Visualizing the global #ExtremeWeather conversation on Twitter

By Kathleen Reen
Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Climate change has contributed to extreme weather around the world, fueling an increased number of phenomena like deadly floods, wildfires, and frequent typhoons. Home to more than half of the world’s population, the Asia Pacific region is one of the most vulnerable to the devastating effects of climate change. 

As extreme weather unfolds across the globe, people come to Twitter before, during, and after these events to talk about what’s happening. Powered by social insights and analytics, these real-time conversations can be harnessed to provide instant alerts, relief efforts, and assessment of the situation on ground.

We provide companies and individuals with programmatic access to Twitter data through our public application programming interfaces (APIs), allowing them to build apps and tools for consumers to draw insights out of Twitter.

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In collaboration with our Twitter Official Partners (Brandwatch and NTT Data), Peta Bencana, and creative studio Design I/O, we created an interactive webpage to explore how conversations evolve on Twitter before, during, and after #ExtremeWeather events across the region, including the:

  • #AustraliaBushfires: From June 2019 to March 2020, the fires in Australia burned 13.6 million acres in New South Wales, devastating the wildlife and ecology of the region (NYT, 2020). Between December 2019 and March 2020, there were nearly 10M public Tweets related to the Australia Bushfires (Source).
  • Jakarta Floods: In January 2020, a record-breaking rainfall inundated Jakarta, Indonesia with more water than its infrastructure could handle. Severe flooding affected large parts of the capital city, injuring dozens and displacing thousands. In the first week of January 2020, there were over 20,000 Tweets in Jakarta about the floods (Source).
  • #TyphoonHagibis: In 2019, Northern Japan was hit by the devastating Typhoon Hagibis, which generated three feet of rain in 24 hours in some regions, flash floods, and 74 lives lost (NHK, 2019). 
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Conversations heat up

In addition to using the service to share resources, raise funds and rally around one another, the Tweets create a wealth of social data that can be used to understand the issue of climate change and the crisis more broadly, while enabling policy makers to respond to future climate emergencies.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations’ climate science research group, recently concluded in a report that human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe – including increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation.

The extent of extreme weather events is reflected in public conversations on Twitter too. A sample of English-language Tweets from 2013 to 2020 indicated that mentions of “climate change” grew an average of 50% over seven years.

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By utilizing the vast amount of data about public conversation, developers have the opportunity to build solutions that can help local communities during unforeseen extreme weather events, or study public sentiments about climate change without human bias.

Our uniquely open service has been used by people all around the world to share and exchange information in times of crisis. We recognize our responsibility in ensuring that people can find the information they need especially during a natural disaster, and have worked to amplify credible information from trusted media, government agencies, as well as relief and volunteer organizations.

We’ve seen how Twitter data can be used in real-time to provide vital support to people on the ground and raise broader awareness and understanding of the impact of a crisis; and can continue to do so with the support and commitment from developers who are passionate about building for the climate crisis.

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Kathleen Reen


Senior Director of Public Policy and Philanthropy, APAC