Google Earth brings climate into focus



Google Earth screenshot

A look at new climate-related options on Google Earth, which include temperature projections at IPCC high and low end emissions figures.

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Google has added a new focus on climate change to its Google Earth program, to help raise environmental awareness in the lead up to December's climate talks in Copenhagen.

'We are launching a series of Google Earth layers and tours to allow [people] to explore the potential impacts of climate change on our planet and the solutions for managing it," said Google's green business representative, Benjamin Kott, and industry analyst Jonas Vang in a joint statement on the company's official blog.

Google Earth can now show users changes to temperature and rainfall around the globe that are expected to occur under both high and low emissions scenarios, based on figures published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, up until the year 2100.

A range of other climate-related layers are expected to follow, including maps illustrating expected sea-level rise and areas and extents of water shortages, as well as information on adaptations to climate change and emissions-reducing activities.

Video 'climate change tours' will also be available to walk users through the features of the program and the changes, problems and solutions associated with a warming planet, with the first, Al Gore-narrated tour, 'Confronting Climate Change', released last week.

Users who have or wish to download the Google Earth plug-in can view the tours on the new Climate change in Google Earth page, or the videos are also available on YouTube here.

By providing stark visualistions of the problems associated with global warming, it is hoped the Google initiative, launched in collaboration with the Danish government, will provide greater understanding and action on the issue. Indeed, Google has set up a new YouTube channel for the purpose of facilitating discussions.

The Raise Your Voice channel is designed to allow users to share their thoughts and questions on climate change, and to hear the opinions of the decision makers.

During the Copenhagen conference, videos of the talks and 'behind the scenes' footage will be shown through the channel, while screens around the conference centre will broadcast the best videos posted in the lead-up.