South of a Sunburnt Country / by Michael Johns

Using a gridded sea surface temperature dataset from NOAA, and a handy orthographic projection of Earth centered on the South Pole, you can see Tasmania hovering just above a cold ring of water wrapping around the frozen continent of Antarctica. Although a part of the sunburnt country of Australia, Tasmania’s southern position and proximity to this cooler band of ocean temperatures gives the island a more temperate climate. February in the Southern Hemisphere means shorter days and cooler nights, marking the beginning of a transition to fall. Cooler temps and rain couldn’t come soon enough, as the whole of Australia has been hit with the one of the most extreme heat waves on record, with bush fires sparked by lightning strikes raging across much of Tasmania. These heat waves may become the new norm for this and many other parts of the world, as global average temperatures begin to creep up from a long-term baseline. While not as pronounced as places like the Arctic, records indicate sea and air temperatures are slowly on the rise for this unique southern island of Australia.

Graphics created in R with packages ggplot2 and touched up in Photoshop. SST data are interpolated high resolution average daily values for January 30th, 2019. I tested out a cool new package put out by the BBC graphics team on the temperature anomaly plot, which allows you to apply the graphing styles they use for publications. Check out the link HERE.