Google Earth Overlay Shows The Widespread Nature Of Climate Change

Google Earth Overlay Shows The Widespread Nature Of Climate Change

Researchers at University of East Anglia added a climate layer to allow viewers to access the world's temperature records.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 7 february 2014

University of East Anglia climate researchers have added a new layer to Google Earth to allow viewers access to the world’s temperature records.

The new layer lets users scroll around the map and zoom in on 6,ooo weather stations around the world to view monthly, seasonal and annual temperature data that goes as far back as 1850. Users will be able to access around 20,000 graphs and data from the Climatic Research Unit Temperature Version 4 (CRUTEM4) land-surface air temperature dataset, one of the most used records of the climate system.

According to Dr. Tim Osborn from the Climatic Research Unit at the university,

The beauty of using Google Earth is that you can instantly see where the weather stations are, zoom in on specific countries, and see station datasets much more clearly. The data itself comes from the latest CRUTEM4 figures, which have been freely available on our website and via the Met Office. But we wanted to make this key temperature dataset as interactive and user-friendly as possible.

To add the climate layer to Google Earth, the globe was split into 5° latitude and longitude grid boxes that are about 550km wide along the Equater and gradually narrowing as it gets closer to the poles. The grid indicates the areas where data from weather stations are available. Users only need to click on a grid box to view temperature data and links to more detailed information.


Understandably, the grid has gaps where there are no weather stations located, like the Sahara. Also, some of the locations of the weather stations are not exact and station markers could be a few kilometers away from the actual site of the station. However, this does not affect the climate layer and the information because temperature records do not depend on precise locations of the weather stations. According to Osborn, these gaps and inaccuracies may be reduced in the future as more detailed information becomes available.

The project is part of ongoing initiatives to make data about climate change as accessible and available as possible.



University of East Anglia

Source: Daily Mail

Images: University of East Anglia

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