BBC changes controversial weather map after 13 years, sparks more controversy

Scotland is finally the right size, but the popular reaction to the new map has been overwhelmingly negative

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In 2005, the British public service broadcaster BBC ditched its old-style Mercator maps for a tilted/curved version. The aim was to give weather-watchers a more realistic 3D feel, but the zoomed-in viewpoint ended up making Scotland look a lot smaller. Not surprisingly, viewers in the United Kingdom’s north were left fuming, with many calling the new map a ‘political projection’.

The tilted maps

That changed on Feb 6, 2018, when the broadcaster brought back the flat maps with more realistic details and high-resolution data. The BBC is calling it “the biggest change to BBC Weather, both for UK and international audiences, for more than ten years.”

The new look

This is because the map projection is not the only thing that has changed. The BBC has also dumped the UK Met Office as its official weather data provider and given the contract to a private organization called MeteoGroup (though it will continue to consult the Met Office for severe weather warnings).

Coming back to the map projection, now that Scotland is finally the right size on the map, the Scots are obviously rejoicing.

But their enthusiasm has not been shared by all viewers. Ever since the new maps went live, Twitter and BBC’s blog detailing the changes have been filled with complaints and overwhelmingly negative remarks. While some users say that they have lost their favorite locations, others are not able to access key features. Many find the map symbols cluttered and difficult to interpret, while others feel place names are blocking the entire map.

The thing is, the British are obsessed with the weather. According to one survey, an average Briton spends around 104 hours a year complaining about all things meteorological. They check the weather forecast more than once a day, and yet are caught out by unexpected weather at least 11 times a year. Therefore, a reliable forecast – which would just tell them what to wear the next day – is all-important for the Brits. So, when their go-to weather service provider decides to shake things up, emotions are bound to run high. What’s your verdict?

Ishveena is a geospatial enthusiast and a veteran of creating and managing compelling digital content for organizations and individuals. When she is not making magic at her desk, you are likely to find her exploring nature, eating her way through life, or binge-watching funny animal videos.