Forget global warming – how much have temperatures risen over time where you live?
With this new Google Earth map, released this week by the U.K.-based University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, you can pinpoint any of more than 6,000 weather stations around the world and view monthly, seasonal and yearly temperature data, some of which go all the way back to 1850.
The new tool is part of an effort by the university – home to one of the world's most widely used records of Earth's climate, known by its abbreviated name CRUTEM4 – to place more information about past climate and climate change directly into the hands of the public.
“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," said Dr. Tim Obsorn of the university's Climatic Research Unit in a news release.
“The data itself comes from the latest CRUTEM4 figures, which have been freely available on our website and via the Met Office," he added. "But we wanted to make this key temperature dataset as interactive and user-friendly as possible.”
To view it, you'll need to download this KML file and open it in Google Earth (which you can download and install here if you don't already have it). Once you've done those two things, you can start scrolling around the globe, clicking locations within the green and red checkerboard squares that indicate where weather station data are available.
When you zoom into a city, you'll see graphs like this one for Atlanta:
It's important to note that the red and blue lines above don't show actual temperatures; what they show is the difference between the temperature baseline (in this case, the 1961-1990 average) and the observed temperature for each year.
As you can see, temperatures in Atlanta fluctuated up and down for much of the century, but around 1980 they started going up in a big way – a trend that hasn't stopped since.
What the data bring home is how much temperatures have warmed worldwide over the past few decades in minute detail, and how consistent the warming has been across wide swaths of the planet – not exactly uniform, to be sure, but remarkably consistent from location to location.Follow @terrellwrites
MORE: January Floods Swamp U.K.
The Muchelney humanitarian support boat operated by a crew from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service arrives from the village still cut off by flood water on Feb. 2, 2014 near Langport in Somerset, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)