Want to know if it was a rainy day or a sunny one when you were born? Google Earth may help!
Climate researchers at the University of East Anglia, U.K., have made the world’s temperature records, dating back to 1850, available via Google Earth.
The Climatic Research Unit Temperature Version 4 (CRUTEM4) land-surface air temperature dataset is one of the most widely used records of the climate system.
The new Google Earth format allows users to scroll around the world, zoom in on 6,000 weather stations, and view monthly, seasonal and annual temperature data more easily than ever before.
Users can drill down to see some 20,000 graphs — some of which show temperature records dating back to 1850.
The move is part of an ongoing effort to make data about past climate and climate change as accessible and transparent as possible.
“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,” Tim Osborn from UEA’s Climatic Research Unit said.
The Google Earth interface shows how the globe has been split into 5 degrees Celsius latitude and longitude grid boxes. The boxes are about 550km wide along the Equator, narrowing towards the North and South poles.
This red and green checker-board covers most of the Earth and indicates areas of land where station data are available.
Clicking on a grid box reveals the area’s annual temperatures, as well as links to more detailed downloadable station data.
But while the new initiative does allow greater accessibility, the research team do 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. 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,” Osborn said.
The initiative is published in the journal Earth System Science Data.