Weather Channel: Storm Warnings for Climate Change

April 11, 2019

The Verge:

Tree-lined streets turn to rivers in the Charleston, South Carolina, of the future. Street lights hang suspended just feet from the water’s surface as a meteorologist perched on a rooftop explains that this is the view we might see in the year 2100 if climate change continues at its current pace.
The scene is from The Weather Channel’s latest mixed reality segment, which connects the flooding of tomorrow to the melting glaciers and sea level rise of today. It marks a slight deviation from its ongoing campaign to put its meteorologists in the middle of virtual but hyperrealistic extreme weather events. 
Some of these have touched on climate change and its role in worsening the wildfires that scorch the West Coast every year or the thinning ice coating the surface of lakes. But this is the first to focus entirely on the effects of climate change, according to Matthew Sitkowski, executive weather producer at The Weather Channel. “This time, we decided to really wrap our hands around climate change and make it the star,” he says.

To make these segments, The Weather Channel uses a popular video game development platform called the Unreal Engine to adjust the graphics in real time. Using camera tracking technology, the production team puts the meteorologist in the scene. The result is a vivid, near-realistic cinematic scene that captures the viewer’s attention for the same reasons that video games do, says Edward Maibach, the director of the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, who wasn’t involved in producing this clip. “By engaging our senses of sight and sounds — and our tendency to focus on things that move — they earn our full attention, and are experienced more like real lived experience than like book learning,” he says in an email to The Verge.

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7 Responses to “Weather Channel: Storm Warnings for Climate Change”


  1. cannot reblog without commenting.

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    I loved TWC’s depiction of different levels of storm surge to warn people that evacuation is nigh impossible once the surge comes in where you live:

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    TWC and other outlets should employ more of this virtual reality “exposure” to extreme weather events. All over the country, people sit in front of the TV and watch actual footage of the disasters and the impacts on residents.

    They then go “ho hum” because they really can’t relate to something so far removed from them and switch over to Survivor , American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, or TMZ. It’s actually psychological warfare, and putting people right in the middle of the disaster with CGI is far more likely to have an impact than clips of granny and her cats being loaded into a rowboat by volunteer firemen.

    Of course, there’s the worry about traumatizing people and causing them to say “what’s the use—-why fight climate change” and give up. Once the SHTF, most are going to give up anyway—-why not try to convert and “save” some now? This is one way to do that.


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