A comparison of two weather forecasts from five years apart has been highlighted by social media users who suggest that differences in the on-screen graphics prove the media is stoking baseless fears of climate change. But this comparison is misleading, according to information from the graphics provider.
Example posts include a meme with side-by-side images of two separate weather forecasts in Germany: the first one is dated June 21, 2017, and the second one June 21, 2022 (here).
Both were broadcast on Tagesthemen, a daily newscast on the ARD network in Germany, and both were presented by weather presenter Claudia Kleinert.
In the image of the 2017 forecast, the map of Germany is shaded green and is labelled with temperatures between 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) and 37C (98.6F).
The image of the 2022 forecast, meanwhile, incorporates a heatmap and uses shades of red and orange. It also forecasts temperatures between 19C (66.2F) and 32C (89.6).
Underneath the post, other users appeared to interpret the post as “propaganda”.
“Climate change propaganda at its finest,” wrote one person.
Another said: “Sick to the back teeth of all this fictional fear mongering drama pushers. If it’s not painted as doomsday looming these snow flakes (sic) are not happy. I recall tar melting on roads in hot weather, no one wailed on about climate change or the wrap (sic) of god … it’s seasonal, Summer comes every year. Learn to live with it.”
Indeed, the date stamped on the first of the two side-by-side images is accurate. The 2017 broadcast can be seen here, timestamp 13:57 to 14:04. The 2022 broadcast can be found here, timestamp 34:34 to 34:44. However, it was broadcast a day earlier on June 20.
But the comparison between the two forecasts and the suggestion of media fearmongering is misleading. This is because the use of the heatmap is not a new feature.
The heatmap can also be seen in a separate weather forecast from June 21, 2017 – a broadcast from the same day as the forecast used in the meme, which incorporates a map of Germany shaded green (timestamp 14:48 to 14:51 here). It featured on Tagesschau, a different newscast to Tagesthemen, but which is also provided by Germany’s ARD network.
The heatmap graphic is a product of Hessischer Rundfunk (HR), the broadcasting corporation of the German state of Hesse. ARD directed Reuters to HR for comment.
“Since January 2020, HR has been in charge of all ARD weather forecasts including Tagesthemen and Tagesschau – to provide consistency in design and graphics,” a spokesperson for HR told Reuters via email.
Prior to 2020, Tagesthemen used weather graphics from another company called Cumulus.
Misleading. ARD has used weather maps from HR since 2020 to provide consistency in design.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
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