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See future on Google Earth

delhi Updated: May 21, 2008 03:34 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times
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The future may not be too far. For instance, the India of 2100 and the impact of climate change in the years between now and then, can be seen through a new navigation tool on Google Earth. The tool was added to the global satellite map-based website on Monday.

A joint initiative of the UK Met office Hadley Centre and Google Corporation, it shows projected increase in temperatures in different regions, based on medium carbon emission projection and how it could impact millions of people.

For India, the rise in temperature is projected to be between 4 and 6ºC with the projection of a rise in sea level devastating its eastern coast and agricultural production going down by a quarter by 2080. Based on information collected during a joint research project of the UK government, the Environment Ministry and Rural Development Ministry in 2006, Google Earth takes you to places that would undergo major changes because of climate change.

The map shows Kolkata could be ravaged by climate change in 2070. About 12 million people and assets worth $2,000 billion could be exposed to coastal flooding, due to climate and social changes, says the information map on Google Earth.

The bleak picture should leave farmers a worried lot. The entire northwestern area has been painted a light brown, warning of projected increase in drought risk. The other prediction: a fall in production by almost a quarter in the area due to the increase in low-level ozone, which creates breathing problems for plants.

While drought looms large over the north, farmers in Bihar, Orissa and south India — except Kerala — could witness more floods because of unpredictable rainfall. These regions have been painted red, an indication of the possible devastation. There’s more bad news for farmers in these areas: the Hadley Centre projects an increase in summer rainfall of one-third, which would have a major impact on water resources and crop pattern.

The research also shows regions in India where moist and dry savanna forests would decline by one-third, as well as areas where tropical seasonal forest cover would increase by the same level. But, loss of evergreen forests would mean loss of bio-diversity and extinction of many species.

The melting glacial zone in the Himalayas has also been highlighted, indicating concern over projected ecological devastation. The map shows an increase in the malaria season in most of central and south India, due to the rise in temperature and humidity.