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Google Earth maps climate change hotspots

Google Earth is tracking the effects of climate change following a collaboration with the UK government, the Met Office and the British Antarctic Survey.

The initiative was launched by UK prime minister Gordon Brown at the Google Zeitgeist conference today.

Climate Change in Our World provides two new ‘layers’ to all users of Google Earth which highlight various aspects of the planet’s changing climate.

One animation uses data from the Met Office’s Hadley Centre to predict world temperatures over the next 100 years under medium projections of greenhouse gas emissions.

Another layer, developed by the British Antarctic Survey, shows the retreat of Antarctic ice caps since the 1950s, and provides facts about climate change science.

“Climate change is redrawing the map of the world,” said Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

“Unless we act, its impact will be felt everywhere as sea levels rise, crops fail, extreme weather increases and more areas are at risk of drought and flooding.”

Users can also access information on action that can be taken by individuals, communities, businesses and governments to tackle climate change, and highlights work already underway.

“This project shows the reality of climate change using estimates of the change in the average temperature where they live, and the impact it will have on people’s lives all over the world, including here in Britain,” added Benn.

“By helping people to understand what climate change means for them and for the world we can mobilise the commitment we need to avoid the worst effects by taking action now.”