Google maps to measure climate change

Business will soon have access to a simpler way of assessing how global warming could affect their operations, thanks to a new series of online tools launched this week by Google.

The internet giant announced on its company blog that it has teamed up with the Danish government in the run-up to the crucial Copenhagen climate change conference to produce a series of layers and tours for its Google Earth tool that allow users to analyse the potential impact of rising temperatures.

The new tools will also let users assess some of the measures proposed for adapting to inevitable levels of climate change.

Writing on the blog, Benjamin Kott of Google's green business operations division and industry analyst Jonas Vang said that the company had worked with data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to show "the range of expected temperature and precipitation changes under different global emissions scenarios that could occur throughout the century".

The first "tour" using this new data was launched on Tuesday with narration from Al Gore, and Google said further tools will follow in the coming months. The company also announced the launch of a YouTube COP15 Channel to help promote the forthcoming Copenhagen conference.

The new Google Earth tools are the latest in a series of initiatives designed to make it easier for businesses and individuals to assess how climate change will affect them over the coming decades.

The Met Office is currently considering integrating much of its existing climate change work into a new climate service for businesses designed to provide them with detailed information on how global warming could affect their operations.

"We already provide a lot of information for businesses on the 10- to 30-year time frame that impacts their infrastructure decisions, and we are looking at bringing that together into a dedicated climate service," said a spokesman for the organisation, adding that there was growing demand for information from businesses that are increasingly aware that they need to be seen to have an understanding of climate risks.

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