A New Way to View Climate Change Downtown
March 20, 2020
A century of climate change in Anchorage is revealed through 300 feet of colorful stripes in a new graphic installation on the facade of vacant retail space in downtown Anchorage at the corner of 6th Ave and D St. Debuting today, Warming Stripes, vertical stripes that illustrate the average annual Anchorage temperatures from 1919 to 2019, is the Anchorage Museum’s latest public art project on climate change through a collaboration with the Anchorage Downtown Partnership.
Warming Stripes was first introduced by Ed Hawkins, a climate science professor for the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. Hawkins uses simple data visualizations to communicate climate science to the public. His first version debuted in May 2018. In June 2019, he published a large set of climate stripes representing trends from countries around the globe on ShowYourStripes.info; nearly a million stripe-graphic downloads were recorded in the first week.
The Anchorage version of this graphic uses historical data provided by Alaska climate science expert Brian Brettschneider, research associate for the International Arctic Research Center, local designer Karen Larsen created the piece. Each stripe represented the temperature for a single year, ordered from 1919 through 2019. Blue shades represent cooler years and red, warmer years.
“Thursday, March 19 is the Vernal Equinox, marking the official start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and it will be the earliest that the equinox has occurred nationwide in 124 years due to leap year and daylight-saving time,” said Anchorage Museum Director/CEO Julie Decker. “Thinking about the temperatures, climate and seasons relative to our place is part of what this project is about — visualizing local data to better understand where we live and what is changing.”
Last year, at Summer Solstice, more than 100 meteorologists across the planet took part in sending a united message on climate change. Sporting the now-iconic “warming stripes” pattern on items like neckties and necklaces, they communicated a clear concept: Earth’s warming is accelerating at a rapid pace.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Anchorage Museum to bring vibrancy to this space in the heart of our downtown,” said Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Ltd Executive Director Amanda Moser. “Through this public art installation, we are both sharing an important narrative and activating a public space.”
Anchorage Warming Stripes is a SEED Lab public art installation. A physical space and a series of public art projects, conversations and gatherings for envisioning possible creative responses to climate change, SEED Lab is one of five winters of the Bloomberg Philanthropies 2018 Public Art Challenge, partnering the Anchorage Museum with the Municipality of Anchorage.