16:23 15 July 2010
In the battle against climate change, the government has collaborated with the Met Office to produce a new interactive Google Earth map showing the impacts of a warmer world.
The multi-platform map highlights some of the changes that may occur if the global average temperature rises by 4C above the pre-industrial climate average.
Head of climate change advice at the Met Office Vicky Pope said: "If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, global average temperatures could increase by 4C by the end of the century, and possibly as early as 2060. This new mapping onto Google Earth illustrates some of the potential impacts of such a rise. It uses the latest climate and impacts science to highlight the consequences of not reducing emissions."
The Met Office hopes the Google Earth layer will "lend a human face" to climate science by featuring videos of climate scientists from the UK explaining the latest research behind the climate impacts shown and some of the projects currently taking place around the world.
Launched by Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham and climate change minister Greg Barker alongside chief government scientist, Professor John Beddington, the map was developed using data from the Met Office Hadley Centre and other leading impact scientists.
Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham said: "The threat from climate change has not gone away and this Government is committed to doing what it can to take action.
"We are committed to being the greenest government ever and to engage with new audiences. This Google Earth map supports that commitment to tackling climate change and will hopefully communicate with a bigger audience globally about why the UK Government is being active in championing the transition to a low carbon economy."
The Google Earth climate layer allows users to select details for how the temperature increase will affect sea levels, weather systems, marine life and crop production, to name a few, with details available of each danger zone.
The UK government asserts that it is committed to keeping global temperatures as low as practical to avoid dangerous levels of climate change and is working to secure an ambitious global deal which achieves this. The Copenhagen Accord already commits countries to limiting average global temperature increases to 2C.
Although the projected average temperature rise across the globe is 4C (7F) the map shows that this average rise will not be spread uniformly. The land will heat up more quickly than the sea, and high latitudes, particularly the Arctic, will have larger temperature increases. The average land temperature is predicted to be 5.5C above pre-industrial levels.
Energy and climate change minister Greg Barker said: "This map reinforces our determination to act against dangerous man-made climate change. We know the stakes are high and thats why we want to help secure an ambitious global climate change deal."
Scientists argue that emissions of greenhouse gases have already altered the earth's atmosphere and begun to change our climate, causing consequences we will face for the next few decades, regardless of the actions we take now.
However, the map shows projection of the dangers in our future climate if we continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the rate we currently do, rather than taking effective steps to dramatically reduce our emissions.
Google representative Ed Parsons commented: "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 human impacts of climate change. Allowing scientists to talk about their research to the general public is a way to enable the public to fully understand how the process of scientific investigation works."
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