One of the challenges facing scientists who seek to educate the public about climate change is that, generally speaking, climate change is a large-scale trend evident over an extended time-period. However, the public tends to notice only the weather, which is more fickle and measured in mere days (i.e. - the five-day forecast). When people check the forecast to know if they need an umbrella, they generally aren’t thinking of the increased participation trends over the last thirty years.
To help people understand climate change, Pedrera and Climate Central designed a website that would bring long-term climate trends into the context of everyday life. Website visitors are presented with current weather for their location, as well as the upcoming forecast.
The current conditions and forecast are then compared to almanac data, and climate change trends are presented through animated graphs that are dynamically generated. For instance, visitors may see long-term trends for their location like the average high-temperature for the current month, annual snowfall totals, or the number of days of drought per year.
Pedrera provided user experience design and development services for WXshift, as well as strategic and technical consulting. Our development team built the website with ExpressionEngine as the core framework, and wrote custom API integrations to pull weather data from Aeris, which then generates animated trend graphs from the weather almanac database with HighCharts. We also developed custom tools for geolocation, which we augmented to improve the accuracy of the third-party service.
WXshift was a very successful project. It was covered in various media outlets, including the Washington Post, Slate and the Huffington Post. This project also kicked off Pedrera’s long-standing partnership Climate Central, which is still ongoing.