Two weather forecasts from two different Swedish broadcasters, accompanied by inaccurate descriptions claiming they are from 36 years apart, are being shared online to spread the false narrative that climate change does not exist.
“In 1986 this was called summer now they are saying it’s climate change,” a Twitter user wrote (here ). “#ClimateEmergencyHoax,” another one tweeted (here )
Other examples are viewable on Reddit ( here ), Twitter ( here ), ( here ) and Facebook ( here ), ( here ), ( here ).
The claim in Spanish has been shared by at least 5,000 users on Twitter ( here ), ( here )
The meme includes two cropped images of weather forecasts. The one on the left, colored in green and featuring cloud and sun symbols, includes an overlayed text that reads “1986,” while the one on the right, in shades of red and orange, has a “2022” label. Most areas marked on the map on the left appear to register a higher temperature in comparison to the map on the right (for example, see left bottom corners in both maps, 24° on the left one, 21° on the right).
Through a reverse image search, Reuters identified uncropped versions of the images featured in the meme, posted as early as August 2021 ( here ).
Reuters found the image on the left in a 2019 article by Swedish Sveriges Radio, in which the graphic is credited to Swedish public Broadcaster SVT ( here ). See a comparison ( here )
Nitzan Cohen, meteorologist at SVT Weather, confirmed to Reuters the map on the left is a forecast from SVT and that it is not from 1986, as claimed in the meme. Rather, it traces back to July 21, 2016. Reuters was not able to find this exact image in an SVT broadcast, but the forecast in another clip from that date matches closely in visual style ( here )
Weather maps on SVT in 1986 “were still drawn by hand” said Cohen, pointing out a YouTube clip of a 1988 SVT transmission of the weather forecast ( here ) (viewable at 1:33s).
Reuters was not able to independently verify the origin of the forecast on the right (colored in shades of orange and red), but it is not from 2022 either. It traces back to at least August 2021. At the time, a blog described it as being from Swedish broadcaster TV4 ( here ). See comparison ( here )
The uncropped version shows a woman in a blue dress who resembles TV4 meteorologist Madeleine Westin (see similar angle t 2:09s ( here ). It also features overlayed text that indicates she is presenting the “maximum temperature” (Maxtemperatur in Swedish). The blue box on the top left that reads “14.00 Fredag,” also resembles the style of the TV4 weather forecasts. A similar coloring of the map is viewable in a 2020 and a 2021 forecast viewable ( here ) and ( here ).
TV4 did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Aside from the dates in the image being inaccurate, comparing weather forecasts for a specific date to make claims about climate change is misleading.
The U.S. Geological Survey explains that weather refers to short term atmospheric conditions – what is shown in a weather forecast for a given time and day. Climate refers to the long-term average of the weather in a specific region; it also traces extreme values like “record high temperatures or record amounts of rainfall,” the U.S. National Service states ( here ). Climate change is the long-term observed changes in climate ( on.doi.gov/3HkzdJ9 )
Pointing out the difference between the terms, Gustav Strandberg, climate researcher at the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), told Reuters that the meme was “clearly misleading”.
“There was nothing strange about summer days with maximum temperature of 24 degrees in Sweden 30 years ago. But since then, Sweden has become warmer, and we expect it to get even warmer. This will not show if you carefully select one day in 1986 and one in 2022,” he said.
“The summer temperature in Sweden as a whole is observed to increase with roughly 1 degree since the eighties,” Stransberg added.
Sweden’s annual average temperature is projected to continue rising up to “2 to 7°C higher by the end of the century than it was during 1961-1990,” according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) ( here ). An SMHI graph tracing the annual average temperature since 1860 is viewable ( here )
In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report on climate change ( www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/ ).
The report states that it is “unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land” and that “widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred” ( here ).
Reuters reporting on the reality of climate change can be seen ( here ), ( here ), and ( here ).
Reuters has previously addressed other social media posts that downplay or deny the existence of climate change ( here ), ( here ), ( here ), ( here ), ( here ), and ( here ).
Misleading. The maps shared online do not provide a comparison of weather forecasts from 1986 and 2022. They also do not prove that temperatures have not risen in Sweden.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.