How to produce an animated gif of rise in global temperature in R

September 15, 2016

(This article was first published on R – Opiniomics, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I came across a really cool tweet a few days ago containing an animated GIF demonstrating rise in global temperatures since 1880:

Link to the blog is here.

I wanted to see if I could recreate this GIF in R, and below are some instructions on how to get close.

The first step is to try and see if I can replicate the original, final image.  The code below comes close enough for this demo, but strangely I am approx. 1 degree C out.  I’ve left a comment on the original blog to ask why – it’s not clear how the exact figures are calculated.

Anyway, here is how to get close:

# download data
d <- read.table("", 
                skip=7, header=TRUE, nrows=143, colClasses = "character")

# clean data
d <- d[-grep("Year", d$Year),]
rownames(d) <- d[,1]
d <- d[,-1]
d <- d[,-13:-19]
d[d=="****"] <- NA

# convert to numeric and celsius
for (i in 1:12) {
	d[,i] <- as.numeric(d[,i]) / 100

# download seasonal adjustments
s <- read.table("", 
                skip=3, header=TRUE, colClasses = "character")
sa <- as.numeric(s$seas_anom)

# create colours from blue through to red
colours <- colorRampPalette(c("grey","blue","red"))(nrow(d))

# create initial plot
mmin <- -3
mmax <- 3
plot(1:12, d[1,]+sa, type="l", ylim=c(mmin,mmax), 
     yaxt="n", xaxt="n", bty="n")

# add axes
axis(side=1, at=1:12, 
     lwd=0, lwd.ticks=1, cex.axis=0.8)

axis(side=2, at=-3:3, labels=-3:3, 
     lwd=0, lwd.ticks=1, las=2, cex.axis=0.8)

# add title
title(main=expression(paste("Temperature ","Anomaly ","(",degree,"C)")), 
      adj=0, cex.main=0.8)
title(main="(Difference from 1980-2015 annual mean)", adj=0, cex.main=0.6, 
      line=0, font.main=1)

# add horizontal lines
for (j in -3:3) {
	lines(1:12, rep(j, 12), lty=3)

# add yearly temperature lines
for (j in 1:nrow(d)) {
	lines(1:12, as.numeric(d[j,])+sa, col=colours[j])

This produces the following image:


This is close enough!

So how do we create the animation?  The old skool way of doing this is to create every image in R and create an animated GIF with ImageMagick.  So we'll do that 🙂

The slightly adjusted code to create every image is here (creates 137 PNGs in working directory!):

# Assumes you have run the code above to create d and sa

doplot <- function(i) {

	x   <- d[i,] + sa
	col <- colours[i]

	mmin <- -3
	mmax <- 3
	plot(1:12, x, type="l", ylim=c(mmin,mmax), 
             yaxt="n", xaxt="n", bty="n", col=col)
	axis(side=1, at=1:12, labels=c("Jan","Feb","Mar",
             lwd=0, lwd.ticks=1, cex.axis=1.5)

	axis(side=2, at=-3:3, labels=-3:3, lwd=0, 
             lwd.ticks=1, las=2, cex.axis=1.5)

	title(main=expression(paste("Temperature ","Anomaly ","(",degree,"C)")), 
              adj=0, cex.main=1.5)
	title(main="(Difference from 1980-2015 annual mean)", 
              adj=0, cex.main=1, line=-0.5, font.main=1)

	# add horizontal lines
	for (j in -3:3) {
		lines(1:12, rep(j, 12), lty=3)

	# add other years
	for (k in 1:i) {
		lines(1:12, d[k,]+sa, col=colours[k])

	# add year label
	text(7, 0.8, rownames(d)[i], col=colours[i], font=2, cex=2)


# create plots/PNGs
for (j in 1:nrow(d)) {
	name <- paste("plot",sprintf("%03.f", j),".png", sep="")
	png(name, width=800, height=600)

Then in ImageMagick, we use convert to create the animated GIF:

convert *.png -delay 3 -loop 1 globaltemp.gif
convert globaltemp.gif \( +clone -set delay 500 \) +swap +delete globaltempwpause.gif

Final result here:


Done 🙂

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: R – Opiniomics. offers daily e-mail updates about R news and tutorials on topics such as: Data science, Big Data, R jobs, visualization (ggplot2, Boxplots, maps, animation), programming (RStudio, Sweave, LaTeX, SQL, Eclipse, git, hadoop, Web Scraping) statistics (regression, PCA, time series, trading) and more...

If you got this far, why not subscribe for updates from the site? Choose your flavor: e-mail, twitter, RSS, or facebook...

Comments are closed.


Never miss an update!
Subscribe to R-bloggers to receive
e-mails with the latest R posts.
(You will not see this message again.)

Click here to close (This popup will not appear again)