Google Earth maps climate hotspots

Screenshot of Google Earth

This is pretty cool: The Met Office, Britain's national weather service, has teamed up with Google to create a Google Earth mash-up that shows climate predictions through the year 2100. You can view a time-lapse series to watch the earth warm on a planetary scale (based on a medium-case scenario of emissions), or you can zoom in and watch how climate change can wreak havoc on your favorite neighborhood.

As you watch the planet warm, you can read various pop-ups that describe local impacts of climate change. For example, click on my hometown of Boston, and you'll learn that an increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit will result in the city's average summer temperatures rising 6.3 degrees, an increase that scientists predict will result in six times as many heat-related deaths. Click on points in the Arctic, and you'll learn that the Northwest Passage could be navigable for 125 days out of the year. In Africa, the Congo River could swell by over 50 percent by the 2080s.

What I find most interesting about this program is how widely variable the effects are. Some regions, including the poles, see temperature increases well into the double digits, while other areas remain cooler.

You can download the application here. Here's hoping that the effects of climate change remain restricted to computer simulations.

[Via Grist]

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