WXshift aims to help Americans understand how climate change affects them at the local level.
Weather isn't climate, and short-term weather patterns don't refute climate change predictions, no matter how many snowballs are displayed in the Senate as "proof" that climate change is a hoax. The misunderstanding about the difference between weather and climate has led to some seriously misinformed citizens (here's a quick and clear explainer), and is probably one of the reasons behind our seemingly bipolar national energy policies, because if you can't connect the dots between fossil fuel related emissions and long-term climate trends due to cold weather during the winter, then you probably aren't going to advocate for transitioning to a low-carbon future.
So how can the average person come to understand the effects that climate change is already bringing about, and which will continue to affect their life? One way might be through a new weather website from Climate Central, which seeks to deliver weather forecasts while also highlighting the ways that climate change influences weather on a very local level.
WXshift is described as the "first digital, real-time pairing of local weather and climate data," and combines graphics on local climate trends with each day's weather forecast, along with climate news and informational videos from a team of journalists and meteorologists that call attention to the climate/weather connection.
"Climate is the future of weather. WXshift gives you something you can’t get anywhere else — relevant, truly localized trends in rainfall, snowfall, temperatures, drought — with a beautiful, informative delivery. For the first time, WXshift lets you see the local weather forecast with local climate trends, so people can see at a glance how their climate has changed." - Richard Wiles, Climate Central’s senior VP
The site features a great set of explainers on 10 key indicators of climate change, from ocean acidification to El Niño, and presents news stories related to those indicators in an easy-to-read style that brings home the issue in a very understandable format. With this new venture, Climate Central may have found a way to make climate change personal, down to the zip code level.
"WXshift is a game-changer — not just for weather geeks and meteorologists but for everyone — because it breaks down climate change in easy-to-digest visuals. It’s our best opportunity to make the link between weather and our changing climate in a way that fits in with everyday life." - Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist of Climate Central
According to Climate Central, WXshift brings together more than a century of rainfall, temperature, snowfall, and drought data from more than 2000 weather stations, and because of that, is a "big-data powerhouse" that offers weather forecasts and news "with a side of climate context."
I'm a bit of a weather geek, and will be adding this site (and its forthcoming app, expected to roll out in 2016) to my daily weather forecast surfing, because it has the potential to not only help us better understand the what and how of climate change, but to also provide plenty of ammo for refuting the arguments of climate deniers and skeptics alike.
Get your daily forecast, along with a taste of local climate trends, at WXshift. And if you're a redditor, or just interested in learning more about climate change, extreme weather, or the new WXshift site, Placky, along with meteorologist Eric Holthaus (Slate) and Deke Arndt (climate monitoring at the National Centers for Environmental Information), will be holding an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit Science on Thursday, September 17th at 2 pm ET.