Google launches interactive climate change map

Google launches interactive climate change map

Ministers and scientists unveiled a Google Earth map today showing potential impacts of global temperature rises of 4C, as they acknowledged the need to rebuild public trust in climate science.

The interactive map enables interested members of the public to see what could happen in various parts of the world if action is not taken to curb temperature rises by cutting greenhouse gases.

It also lets people find out more about the scientific research behind the possible effects of "dangerous" climate change, from sea level rises to changes in crop yields.

The launch of the map by the Foreign Office (FCO) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) comes in the wake of the "climategate" row over emails stolen from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and the sustained attack it prompted on scientific research into man-made global warming.

Government chief scientist Professor John Beddington said much of the criticism of the content of emails by climate researchers at UEA and the response to the emergence of mistakes in a key international report on global warming was "saloon bar scepticism".

He dismissed as nonsense the notion that the row around climate science was the worst scientific scandal in our generation, but said there was "no doubt there is a problem in public confidence in climate change".

Between November last year and February this year, the number of people who thought climate change was not happening had increased and the number who thought it was man-made had fallen, he said.

And he added that there was a need to be more open about the science.

The interactive map shows the major impacts on a world in which temperatures have risen by 4C, a possibility which Prof Beddington described as a "disaster", and includes the uncertainties scientists have over the extent and timing of temperature rises in different regions.

The map, which will be updated as new data becomes available, features videos of scientists talking about the research behind the potential impacts of climate change and information about work the Foreign Office and British Council are undertaking.

Ed Parsons from Google said: "This is a great example of the benefits of using the latest web technology to visualise scientific information and promote better understanding of the potential impacts of climate change."

The online map is available, for people who have Google Earth installed, at: http://www.fco.gov.uk/google-earth-4degrees.kml

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