The UN claims climate change is ‘almost definitely’ caused by humans, and now Google Earth users can see the impact they are supposed to have made to temperature changes in their local area.
Climate researchers at the University of East Anglia have added the world's temperature records as a layer on the mapping service.
It lets users zoom into 6,000 global weather stations and see monthly, seasonal and annual temperature changes dating back to 1850.
Users can also get access to more than 20,000 graphs, plus the raw data from the Climatic Research Unit Temperature Version 4 (CRUTEM4) land-surface air temperature dataset.
The set is one of the most widely used records of the climate system and is based on readings from weather stations around the world.
The move is part of an ongoing effort to make data about past climate, and climate change as accessible and transparent as possible.
Dr Tim Osborn from UEA’s Climatic Research Unit said: ‘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.'
As part of the Google Earth climate layer, the globe has been split into 5° latitude and longitude grid boxes.
The boxes are approximately 550km wide along the Equator, narrowing towards the North and South poles.
The red and green checkerboard covers most of the Earth and indicates areas of land where station data is available.
Clicking on a grid box reveals that area’s annual temperatures, as well as links to more detailed station data.
While the new initiative does allow greater accessibility, the research team admitted it does expect to find errors.
'This dataset combines monthly records from 6,000 weather stations around the world - some of which date back more than 150 years,' explained Dr. Osborn.
‘That’s a lot of data, so we would expect to see a few errors.
'We very much encourage people to alert us to any records that seem unusual.’
He added there are some gaps in the grid, in remote locations where there are no weather stations, such as the Sahara desert in Africa.
Elsewhere, the location of some weather stations is not exact due to the fact latitude and longitude points for each plot is limited to one decimal place.
This means some station markers could be a few kilometres from the actual location.
‘This isn’t a problem scientifically because the temperature records do not depend on the precise location of each station. But it is something which will improve over time as more detailed location information becomes available,' continued Dr Osborn.
Google Earth now shows CLIMATE CHANGE | Mail Online