A new user-friendly computer tool for visualizing climate change


The Nature Conservancy has announced a new interactive program, ClimateWizard, that allows anyone to click on any state in the US or any region of the world to see how temperature and precipitation have changed in 50 years and how they are likely to change by the end of this century.  According to the analysis behind ClimateWizard, the Heartland will heat up the most by 2100— Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, followed by South Dakota, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois.  This clever tool makes it more possible for techies and non-techies alike to see how climate change is likely to affect us in our own backyards.

post by Anne Polansky

The “Climate Wizard” website can be found at http://www.climatewizard.org—a map of the United States pops up, with the same gadgets Google uses to zoom in and out, or move around from place to place.  A visual depiction of temperature or precipitation regimes is instantly available.

Developed collaboratively by Chris Zganjar at The Nature Conservancy, Evan Girvetz at the University of Washington and George Raber at the University of Southern Mississippi, “ClimateWizard represents the first time that the full range of climate history and impacts for a landscape have been brought together in a user-friendly format,” claims the website.  ClimateWizard maps historic and projected climate data from some of the leading regional and global climate data and modeling centers, relying on the IPCC Fourth Assessment and three leading general circulation models.  The website has a useful and informative FAQs section that offers easy-to-understand explanations and definitions. 

The tool is limited to temperature and precipitation, so being able to see how sea level rise will affect coastal communities isn’t part of the package.  In addition to the maps available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Geological Survey, and the US Environmental Protection Agency, a useful set of elevation maps can be found here.     

This is the sort of user-friendly tool that the USGCRP or any of our federal agencies could have developed and made available, and another example in which the private/NGO sector is filling the void. 

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