IPCC Climate Change Map Criticized

Map from IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007)

Two researchers are criticizing a map found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report because it “failed to follow several cartographic principles and effectively display information, despite its important content.” In their view, the map misleads because it doesn’t use an equal-area projection, uses different colours instead of hues to represent temperature ranges, and is too complex, with overlapping data. The map is reproduced above.

Personally, I think they’re overstating things (assuming, of course, that the report represents the researchers’ views fairly). An equal-area projection would minimize the polar regions, which are significant in the context of global warming. And the colour scheme mirrors the spectrum: red is warmer than blue. Using hues would obscure the fact that surface temperatures have, in fact, gone down in some regions. It’s okay to disagree with how a map was done, or to argue that you would have done it differently, but that’s not the same as saying that the IPCC got it wrong.

What do you think?