Free Press Journal

Now, sift through world temperature records via Google Earth


London:  Curious to know whether it was a starry or a cloudy night when your grandparents tied the nuptial knots? Or whether it rained or snowed when your parents celebrated their first New Year in the hills?


Climate researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England, have made the world’s temperature records – dating back to 1850 – available via Google Earth.

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 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 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.

“The data itself comes from the latest CRUTEM4 figures, which have been freely available on our website and via Met Office. But we wanted to make this key temperature dataset as interactive and user-friendly as possible,” informed Tim Osborn from UEA’s climatic research unit.

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,” added Osborn.

There are some gaps because there are no weather stations in remote areas such as the Sahara. Users may also spot that the location of some weather stations is not exact, said a paper published in the journal Earth System Science Data.

This isn’t a problem scientifically because the temperature records do not depend on the precise location of each station. But it is something which will improve over time as more detailed location information becomes available, the researchers explained.