Visualizing World’s Average Temperature Since 1740


Ratirat Osiri (Rey)


16/SU-LIS-658-01: Tableau Lab Report


It was surprisingly tricky to find the dataset that suits the requirement and my interests. They are either insufficient data or lack of dimensions needed. I eventually picked the data of the world’s average temperature. I tried to choose the simple topic because I think it would be easier to digest and easier to grab attention from the general audiences, including me.


The dataset I chose is focusing on the statistic of temperature of almost every countries around the world. The data has been accumulated since 1740 which is a very wide range of time. The dataset also includes countries and cities. I think including cities in the map would become a data overload, so I chose to use only country data to display. The work is involving Tableau lab, so the main program that I use would be Tableau, while the data is csv file which is compatible with Tableau. I honestly struggle with it few times, not knowing how to use it well, it also crashed on me twice.



Anyway, I managed to create a simple line graph (picture above) with an average temperature of all countries since 1740. I chose the line graph because I think it would suit best to displays the The line graph illustrated that the temperature is gradually going up. I also added the color into the line graph later, using blue and red diverging color to represent the feeling of temperature, and to match with the map graph. The data is pretty detailed that they even have quarter, month, week and day to select, which I believe year data is already enough for me.


Since the dataset is involving geographical areas, the map chart would suits best for the visualization work. I chose the color green and red diverging to represent cold and hot temperature, which I later changed from green to blue instead, according from the feedback that they think that blue is more associated with cold temperature than green. The program has provided the temperature color template which provide five solid colors with no shades, but I think I rather use just two opposite colors to represent just ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ elements (they can reduce to two color but they don’t provide shades in this color template).  I carefully chose the color steps choice and tried to balance the color blend in overall. Since the data have a very wide range of years, the map timeline animation was beautifully shifting as it was played, even the data in many countries are not available in the early years.   


I was suggested to add the filter to created rank of the hottest and coldest average temperature. While sticking to the same visuals with the first map would be too hard to be recognized since some countries are very small on the map. I decided to change the graph to circle with red color represent the hottest countries and blue represent the cold countries in duplicated sheets. I adjust the settings to make sure that the circles will be bigger along with the darker color as the temperature are hotter or colder. I think this way would be easier the portrays the countries with hottest and coldest temperature on the map.


From the figure below, even though we all are familiar with this common geographical knowledge, one interesting thing I have learned from visualizing this dataset is when the average temperature was visualized, it was revealed that all the hottest countries are aligned around the equator while the coldest countries are grouped together in the northern part of the map.


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I think we would hardly picture this from the raw data alone or from other type of graphs. I think it would be interesting to put them on the dashboard, but my classmates suggested that then the dashboard would be too crowded, so I decided to just put the filter panel on the dashboard. I put only the main temperature map and the line graph on the dashboard. This could be possible to do it on Tableau but I couldn’t figure out the way to provide an option to switch the map back and forth between different filter settings. I wish I could just add an option panel on dashboard and let the user explore the different visualized data based on my filter settings. Like, once they choose the ‘hottest’ filter on the dashboard, the main map would show only top ten hottest countries based on my filter settings. All I could do is put the filter panel on dashboard and the user has to adjust it by themselves if they want to see the countries in the range they want. Later, I was hesitated that which would be better between giving the user freedom to change the filter rather than just giveaway the top ten hottest and coldest country on the map. I thought about putting important cities temperature in the dashboard, but I couldn’t decided about how many cities I should include and how I should pick the cities, so I just dropped this idea. In the end, there are just the map, the line graph, the color and date(year) panel and the filter panel.



The data I use in overall is already packed with details so I don’t really think the data itself need to add anything. I think Tableau is a very useful program and could be very handy for visualization. I just came to understand the concept of data visualization from using this program, that how the data and wall of numbers could transform into the attractive visuals to the user. I wish I could have an opportunity to find the better dataset to work with this program again.


Full Version Graph