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Global temperature data available on Google Earth for the first time

Date
26 February 2014
Global temperature data available on Google Earth for the first time

LONDON: Researchers have made the world's temperature records available via Google Earth for the first time, in a move that could help accelerate the climate change dialogue by making key data more accessible.

The University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit's land-surface air temperature dataset, CRUTEM4, is highly regarded and widely used in climate science today. Now through a collaboration with Google Earth, the data will be even more interactive and easy-to-use for everyone.

With the data available on the Google Earth platform, users will be able to track global climate change by zooming in on over 6,000 weather stations, which will enable access to weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual temperatures.

There are over 20,000 different graphs available on this new platform, with some records dating back to 1850.

Google Earth is divided into a number of 5° latitude and longitude grid boxes which are around 550km wide at the equator, but which narrow closer to the North or South Pole. By clicking on a grid box the user is now able to see an area’s annual temperature, along with a link to more precise data.

Dr. Tim Osbourne of the University’s Climatic Research Unit, stressed that the team “wanted to make this key temperature dataset as interactive and user-friendly as possible.”

According to the climate scientist the advantage of using Google Earth is that members of the public “can instantly see where the weather stations are, zoom in on specific countries, and see station datasets much more clearly”. 

Given the scope of the data available, the research team suggests there may be errors so they are encouraging people to alert them to any records that "seem unusual”.

Similarly, the location of certain stations may not be exact due to data on the latitude and longitude of each station being limited to 1 decimal place, a fact which means the station markers could be a few kilometers from the actual location. But the researchers say users should be aware this will not impact on the climate data, as temperature records are not conditional on the precise location of each station. 

Find out more about the project, where there is info on how to view the new Google Earth interface.

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By Alana Ryan

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