Swell maps, and other stories

GoogleBAS.jpg Time for another round up of climate-related news. Hot on the web today (for cartophiles, at least) is that Google Earth has gained a swag of new climate change related information, the result of collaboration between Google, the UK Government, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the British Antarctic Survey. The Climate Change in Our World project, launched at the Google Zeitgeist conference by UK PM Gordon Brown offers two new layers based on Hadley Centre predictions, BAS research in Antarctica, and impacts worldwide. You can animate global temperature changes, visit crumbling ice shelves, and view climate change impacts around the world. Google Earth blog here, download .kmz files here. Hours of geographical fun are guaranteed.

  • A major new study finds strong links between recent climate change and large scale changes in the planet’s natural systems. It’s our fault, in other words [Nature (behind a paywall), BBC, Science Daily News, Guardian]. Lead author Cynthia Rosenzweig from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York told the BBC “…look at all the effects this relatively low amount of warming has had. It reveals the sensitivity to relatively low amounts of warming in many physical and biological systems.” A key point for anyone who thinks that “only a few degrees” won’t make much difference.
  • The growing number of humans on the planet is having a dramatic impact on wildlife populations, according to the Living Planet Index compiled by WWF and the Zoological Society of London. Populations of land-based species have fallen by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29% since 1970. We’re losing about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the “great extinction episodes” in the Earth’s history is under way, the index finds. [BBC, Independent, Guardian, Telegraph].
  • More bad wildlife news: the 2008 Bird Red List “warns that long-term droughts and extreme weather puts additional stress on key habitats,” according to the BBC. “The assessment lists 1,226 species as threatened with extinction – one-in-eight of all bird species.
  • RNZ National’s science programme Our Changing World is always worth a listen, but last week’s (15/5/08) was a cracker. Ice core expert Richard Alley on Antarctica’s future, an update on the University of Waikato’s UltraCommuter EV, and one of the most cogent overviews of biofuel options I’ve ever heard from Doug Cameron, Chief Scientific Officer of Khosla Ventures, the Californian clean tech company. If those streaming links expire, podcast versions are available here, and the programme’s archive is here.
  • Wired reports on Renault’s plans to make EVs for Israel, and then the world, and EcoGeek discovers that Audi intends to have EVs in production in ten years. They might have to hurry… (my son announced yesterday that “one day’ he intends to own a Porsche. I’m willing to bet that by the time he can afford one (if ever) it’ll be a hybrid or EV).
  • #35 with a bullet! Tim Selwyn’s latest NZ blogosphere survey (at Tumeke!) finds that Hot Topic has moved up from #68 in February to #35 in March/April. I’d like to thank The Listener for making it all possible… 😉

2 thoughts on “Swell maps, and other stories”

  1. Cartophile duly reporting in. The temperature animation is a pretty well-done visualisation. UK Met Office page on it. Arctic temps at the end of the century are looking pretty balmy I wonder what property prices in Spitsbergen are like? Hmmm, I wonder if NIWA could produce something like this from their regional climate models?

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