“Climate Questing in Minecraft”

Videogame world, digital download
Published 12 October 2019

 

In which the UK Climate Projections meet Minecraft and “The Warlock of Firetop Mountain”.

The UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) provide the most up-to-date assessment of how the climate of the UK may change over the 21st century. The datasets include land projections for the whole of the UK, higher-resolution regional projections, and marine projections.

In this Minecraft world you can find maps of how the seasonal and annual temperatures and rainfall will change in future decades under a number of scenarios. You might like to follow the Quest through a number of future possibilities. Or each map is labelled, so you can wander and explore. 

Download the Climate Quest world
(Java Windows/OS version of Minecraft for desktops and laptops)

What the maps show

Mean, maximum and minimum air temperature anomaly at 1.5m (°C)

In other words, the change in average, maximum and minimum daily temperatures, averaged over the period of interest (see Seasons below), compared with the baseline (see below), measures in degrees Celsius.

The projections are derived on a grid with a resolution of 25km over land. Each block, north-south and east-west, represents one grid square.

The changes are presented both in colour, and in three dimensions. So increases in temperature tend towards red and stand out from the maps, and decreases in temperature tend toward blue and go into the maps.

Map colour Temperature change (°C) Map colour Temperature change (°C)
Blue -3 to -2 Brown 4 to 5
Cyan -2 to -1 Purple 5 to 6
Light blue -1 to 0 Magenta 6 to 7
White 0 to 1 Pink 7 to 8
Yellow 1 to 2 Black 8 to 9
Orange 2 to 3 Grey 9 to 10
Red 3 to 4 Light grey 10 to 11

Precipitation rate anomaly (%)

In other words, the percentage change in precipitation such as rainfall and snow over the period of interest (see Seasons below), compared with the baseline (see below).

The changes are presented both in colour, and in three dimensions. So increases in precipitation tend towards blue and stand out from the maps, and decreases in precipitation tend toward red and go into the maps.

Map colour Precipitation change (%) Map colour Precipitation change (%)
Pink -80 to -70 White -10 to 0
Magenta -70 to -60 Light blue 0 to 10
Purple -60 to -50 Cyan 10 to 20
Brown -50 to -40 Blue 20 to 30
Red -40 to -30 Grey 30 to 40
Orange -30 to -20 Black 40 to 50
Yellow -20 to -10    

Seasons

Each of the four variables is presented as averages across the four seasons and the whole year, which gives 20 maps. These form the arms of a cross, and there is one cross for each decade and each scenario – 28 crosses in total!

The seasons for each variable are within the arms of the cross, read from left to right. The map backgrounds are colour-coded by season, so it should be clear which is which.

Background colour Season
Lime Spring – March, April, May
Green Summer – June, July, August
Red Autumn – September, October, November
Grey Winter – December, January, February
Light grey Whole year

Decades

The projections are provided as 30-year averages, so that year-on-year fluctuations in weather and climate are smoothed out. Each 30-year period is associated with the central decade. There are seven decades in all in the data, but only the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s are included in the Quest.

30-year period Decade
2010-2039 2020s
2020-2049 2030s
2030-2059 2040s
2040-2069 2050s
2050-2079 2060s
2060-2089 2070s
2070-2099 2080s

Baseline

The changes in temperatures and precipitation in each 30-year period are all compared with a baseline 30-year period. The standard baseline used is 1981-2010 (or the 1990s). Projections are also available compared with 1961-199, but are not shown.

Scenarios

The four scenarios presented are known as Representative Concentration Pathways, and reflect the difference between the sunlight absorbed by the Earth and the energy radiated back into space. The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the more energy is retained by the Earth and the less radiated into space. They do not correspond exactly to futures for lower or higher emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. However, parallels can be drawn with adoption of more or less stringent climate policies.

The RCP2.6 represents the range of lowest scenarios, which requires stringent climate policies to limit emissions.
The forcing pathway of the RCP4.5 scenario is comparable to a number of climate policy scenarios and several low-emissions reference scenarios.
Most non-climate policy scenarios are close to the emission level of the RCP6.0.
RCP8.5 is representative of the high range of non-climate policy scenarios.

Probability

The projections are a set of probability distributions, and data are available for the 10% (outcome very unlikely to be lower), 50% (median or middle of the range of likely outcomes), and 90% (outcome very unlikely to be higher) probabilities. Only the median is presented in these maps.

More information

The official UKCP18 website – https://ukclimateprojections.metoffice.gov.uk/

Representative Concentration Pathways – https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-011-0148-z

“Hundreds of temperature records broken over summer” 2019 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49753680

…as analysed by Berkeley Earth climate institute – http://berkeleyearth.org/

World Meteorological Organisation “Statement on the State of the Global Climate” – https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/climate/wmo-statement-state-of-global-climate

NASA “A Degree of Concern: Why Global Temperatures Matter” –
https://climate.nasa.gov/news/2878/a-degree-of-concern-why-global-temperatures-matter/

IPCC Special Report on “Global Warming of 1.5 ºC” – https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers – https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/06/SR15_Headline-statements.pdf

The Paris Agreement – https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement

The Guardian series on The polluters – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/series/the-polluters

How I made it

Partly this was a chance to learn some Python, both to get hold of the UKCP18 data and to render it in Minecraft.

The UKCP18 data are free to download at https://ukclimateprojections-ui.metoffice.gov.uk/ (registration required).

There is an API, which allows this to be automated, at https://github.com/ukcp-data/ukcp-api-client. So using Python I downloaded much of the data described at https://ukclimateprojections-ui.metoffice.gov.uk/view/proc?proc_id=LS1_Maps_01.

Then I followed https://milosophical.me/blog/2018/minecraft-python-2.html to set up the Raspberry Jam Mod and Python coding environment in Minecraft.

Then I had to think long and hard about what I wanted to do, and what I actually could do. There are limitations to the Raspberry Jam Mod and the very similar RaspberryJuice. For example, it doesn’t include any of the sign blocks. So in my script I created the code for a series of command blocks that placed the generic map signs. The Quest signs I had to place one by one.

If I’m going to get more ambitious and create stuff for Bedrock as well as Java editions, I’ll need to investigate alternatives. So far I’ve come up with:

Btw, I created each of the sections of the cross (each weather variable) the same way, then rotated them by 0, 90, 180 or 270 degrees.

 

“Pour ce qui est de l’avenir, il ne s’agit pas de le prévoir, mais de le rendre possible.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Citadelle, 1948

 

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