daily theme weather map: New design instead of manipulation


fact finder

As of: 07/25/2022 6:39 p.m

Once again, the public broadcasters are accused of using weather maps to show the heat in Germany much more dramatically than a few years ago. The real reason is much less spectacular.

Pascal Siggelkow, SWR

This summer, it’s not just the weather that’s causing heated tempers, but also the way it’s presented on public radio. The accusation: While a few years ago, temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius were still shown on the maps with neutral or comparatively mild tones, today they are red tones that appear alarmist. The alleged intention behind it: With such cards, the viewers should be suggested how dramatic global warming is – while similar temperatures used to be sold as pleasant.

Specifically, one case concerns two excerpts from the weather forecast daily topics. While in a program from June 2017 even temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius are shown on a green-colored map of Germany, it looks much redder in a program from 2022 – despite peak temperatures of “only” 32 degrees. The AfD politician Georg Pazderski writes on Twitter: “You can hardly illustrate the deliberate manipulation of the viewers in a more exemplary way. What was green five years ago is bright red today.”

Change to uniform map design

The broadcasts from which the screenshots for the post were made can be found on the YouTube channel of the daily topics yet to see. It is true that the temperature maps differ significantly in the two programs.

And for one simple reason, says the head of the weather department responsible for the Hessian Broadcasting (HR)Silke Hansen, with: “The weather for the daily topics has not been delivered by different editorial offices and companies since 2020, but by ARD Competence Center in Frankfurt. We changed the complete design during the takeover and the design of the daily News adjusted. Since then there are also in the daily topics no more cloud symbols, but a cloud film and the temperatures are shown on a temperature map, as in the daily News been made for 30 years.”

The design of daily topics and daily News was standardized, but the moderators remained the same.

Not the first accusation of card manipulation

The allegation behind it is not new. However, the supposed proof photos for the alleged manipulation are often a fallacy: for example, when weather maps are compared with temperature maps. Because while a weather map shows how the weather should be (sunny, cloudy, rainy), the temperature map is used to show the number of degrees in color. The scale can range from dark red for hot temperatures to cold blue.

However, not every temperature has its own color, and the color range changes according to the seasons. A color scale that would be used in summer and winter – i.e. from minus 20 to plus 40 degrees – would no longer have any clearly recognizable color differences. Therefore, the weather department of the MR four different color scales that always cover a part: five degrees is blue in summer and yellow or orange in winter.

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