Tag Archives: charts and graphs

What was the 2020 Arctic sea ice minimum?

The climate.gov article 2020 Arctic sea ice minimum second lowest on record by Michon Scott (9/21/2020) reports:

On September 15, 2020, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced, Arctic sea ice appeared to have reached its annual minimum extent. At 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers), this minimum was second only to the record-low extent observed on September 17, 2012. The 2020 figure—preliminary because a late-season surge of summer warmth could still drop the extent further—continued an observed trend of long-term Arctic sea ice decline.

The graph here is from the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s Chartic Interactive Sea Ice Graph (a really great visual). I selected 2010-2020. The year 2012, still the current record, was an impressive minimum and this year is the first in the last 8 to come close.

From the article:

Among long-time observers of Arctic sea ice, the 2020 value was significant in that it not only punctuated a long-term decline, but also because it fell below the 4-million-kilometer (1.5-million-mile) threshold for only the second time in the satellite record—after  2012, when the minimum extent dipped to 1.31 million square miles (3.39 million square kilometers). Ted Scambos, senior research scientist at the Earth Science Observation Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder, says, “This threshold means the Arctic is more ocean than ice, a blue highway that’s been open since mid-July and won’t close until well into October, and a huge fetch for wave action along an 8,000-mile open coast of Siberia and Alaska.” The combination of sea ice decline and permafrost thaw can lead to coastal erosion as more abundant waves wear away newly softened coastlines.

What is the fossil fuel percent of our energy consumption?

The eia post Fossil fuels account for the largest share of U.S. energy production and consumption by Bill Sanchez (9/14/2020) summarizes our energy production and consumption since 1950. From the graph copied here we see that even though we have increased renewable energy capacity they still make up a small percent of our total energy consumption. Some good news:

The share of U.S. total energy consumption that originated from fossil fuels has fallen from its peak of 94% in 1966 to 80% in 2019. The total amount of fossil fuels consumed in the United States has also fallen from its peak of 86 quads in 2007.

There are three other graphs and links to data.

How hot was July 2020?

From NOAA’s Global Climate Report – July 2020:

The July 2020 global land and ocean surface temperature of 0.92°C (1.66°F) above the 20th century average tied with 2016 as the second highest July global temperature since records began in 1880. This value was only 0.01°C (0.02°F) shy of tying the record warm July of 2019.

The Northern Hemisphere land and ocean surface temperature was the highest in the 141-year record at 1.18°C (2.12°F) above average.

Regionally, the Caribbean region had its warmest July on record, with a temperature departure of 1.24°C (2.23°F) above average. This was 0.09°C (0.16°F) above the previous record set in 2016.

The summary includes links to the data.

How much utility-scale battery storage do we have?

The eia reports on battery storage capacity in their post Utility-scale battery storage capacity continues its upward tend in 2018 by Alex Mey, Vikram Linga, & Patricia Hutchins  (8/10/2020). Their main chart is copied here.

By the end of 2018, the United States had 125 operational battery storage systems, providing a total of 869 MW of installed power capacity and 1,236 MWh of energy capacity.

These systems have a wide variety of applications, including integrating renewables into the grid, peak shavingfrequency regulation, and providing backup power.

There are two other graphs in the post including which regions have the most storage capacity (can you guess before you look?). There are also links to data.

What are the best news sources?

The PEW article Americans Who Mainly Get Their News on Social Media Are Less Engaged, Less Knowledgeable by Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, J. Baxter Oliphant and Elisa Shearer (7/30/2020) answers the question with the graph copied here.

As of late last year, 18% of U.S. adults say they turn most to social media for political and election news. That’s lower than the share who use news websites and apps (25%), but about on par with the percent who say their primary pathway is cable television (16%) or local television (16%), and higher than the shares who turn to three other pathways mentioned in the survey (network TV, radio and print).

One specific set of nine questions focused on foundational political knowledge, such as the federal budget deficit and which party supports certain policy positions. Researchers created an index of high, middle or low political knowledge based on how many of these nine questions respondents got right (high knowledge answered eight to nine questions correctly, middle got six or seven right and low got five or fewer right; see here for more details of the political knowledge index). While at least four-in-ten individuals who turn mainly to news websites and apps (45%), radio (42%) and print (41%) for news fall into the high political knowledge category, the same is true of just 17% of those who turn most to social media. Only those in the local TV group scored lower, with 10% in the high political knowledge category.

Even as Americans who primarily turn to social media for political news are less aware and knowledgeable about a wide range of events and issues in the news, they are more likely than other Americans to have heard about a number of false or unproven claims.

This is an extensive article with numerous charts and  graphs. There is also a detailed methodology section.

How much has sea level changed?

NASA’s Vital Signs of the Planet Sea Level Sea Level page provides data on sea level. For example, since 1993 sea level has increased  by about 94mm, but this is an average. In their Sea Level 101, Part Two: All Sea Level is `Local’ by Alan Buis (7/14/2020) they provide the map copied here. There is noticeable variation in sea level change around the globe. They note:

“Relative sea level” refers to the height of the ocean relative to land along a coastline. Common causes of relative sea level change include:

    • Changes due to heating of the ocean, and changes in ocean circulation

    • Changes in the volume of water in the ocean due to the melting of land ice in glaciers, ice caps, and ice sheets, as well as changes in the global water cycle

    • Vertical land motion (up or down movements of the land itself at a coastline, such as sinking caused by the compaction of sediments, or the rise and fall of land masses driven by the movement of continental or oceanic tectonic plates)

    • Normal, short-term, frequent variations in sea level that have always existed, such as those associated with tides, storm surges, and ocean waves (swell and wind waves). These variations can be on the order of meters or more (discussed in more detail in our previous blog post).

There are other graphics in the post including an animation of Greenland ice loss with a scatter plot.

How efficient is electricity?

In the eia post, More than 60% of energy used for electricity is lost in conversion, by Bill Sanchez (7/21/2020), includes the flow diagram here. Note the flow across the top represents conversion losses.

Electricity is a secondary energy source that is produced when primary energy sources (for example, natural gas, coal, wind) are converted into electric power.

The technology and the type of fuel used to generate electricity affect the efficiency of power plants. For example, in 2019, of the 11.9 quads of natural gas consumed for electricity generation, natural gas plants converted 45% (5.4 quads) into net generation of electricity. By contrast, of the 10.2 quads of coal consumption, coal plants converted 32% (3.3 quads) into net generation.

The post has three other graphs and links to electricity data.

Is the racial wealth gap evenly distributed by class?

The article The Racial Wealth Gap is About the Upper Classes by Matt Bruenig (6/29/2020) on the People’s Policy Project explains. First the racial wealth gap is large:

If you take the net worth of all white households and divide it by the number of white households, you get $900,600. If you do the same thing for black households, you get $140,000. The difference between these figures — $770,600 — is the best representation of the overall racial wealth gap.

The graphs here from the article show that the wealth in both groups is largely concentrated in the top 10%.

What this means is that the overall racial wealth disparity is being driven almost entirely by the disparity between the wealthiest 10 percent of white people and the wealthiest 10 percent of black people.


This means that even after you have completely closed the racial wealth gap between the bottom 90 percent of each race, 77.5 percent of the overall racial wealth gap still remains, which is to say that the disparity between the top deciles in each race drives over three-fourths of the racial wealth gap.


What this shows is that 97 percent of the overall racial wealth gap is driven by households above the median of each racial group.


What is the relationship between class, race, and police killings?

The People’s Policy Project reports on their recent research paper in the post Class and Racial Inequalities in Police Killings (6/23/2020). The full paper, Police Killings in the U.S. is by Justin Feldman, ScD. In general,

The highest-poverty areas have a police killing rate of 6.4 per million while the lowest-poverty areas have a police killing rate of 1.8 per million, a 3.5-fold difference.

The differences in killing rate have the same pattern when viewed by Black, Hispanic, and White populations. Differences by class among Hispanics is the least. Further,

He finds that class differences account for more than 100 percent of the difference between white and Latino police killing rates, meaning that, after adjusting for socioeconomic differences, Latinos have a lower police killing rate than whites. Class differences account for 28 percent of the difference between black and white police killing rates.

There are three other graphs in the post.

How has Black educational attainment changed?

The Census Bureau post Black High School Attainment Nearly on Par with National Average  by Jennifer Cheeseman Day (6/10/2020) notes:

In 1940, when the U.S. Census Bureau started asking about educational attainment, only 7% of Blacks had a high school education, compared with 24% for the nation as a whole.

In recent years, Black educational attainment has been much closer to the national average and today, 88% of Blacks or African Americans have a high school diploma, just shy of the national average, according to census data released last month from the Current Population Survey.

Related to the graph copied here:

The national average dropout rate declined from 19% in 1968 to about 6% in 2018. The Black dropout rate fell more steeply from 33% to 5%, bringing it in line with the national average.

Average enrollment for young adults increased from 26% to 41%. At the same time, the proportion of Black young adults in college more than doubled, rising from 15% to 38%.

The article contains five other graphs and links to the Census Bureau data sources.