NASA has finally answered my emails and given us a time machine. While this time machine doesn't allow you to go back and buy stock in Amazon.com or stop yourself from getting that NKOTB tattoo, it does let you travel back in time to see the ongoing effects of climate change on the Earth. A joint project between NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and the California Institute of Technology, the Climate Time Machine is a web app that allows you to visualize recent changes on Earth in dramatic detail.
The site has four visualization modes:
Sea ice: "This visualization shows the annual Arctic sea ice minimum from 1979 to 2007. At the end of each summer, the sea ice cover reaches its minimum extent, leaving what is called the perennial ice cover. The area of the perennial ice has been steadily decreasing since the satellite record began in 1979."
Sea level: "Recent satellite observations have detected a thinning of parts of the Greenland ice sheet at lower elevations. A partial melting of this ice sheet would cause a 1-meter (3-foot) rise. If melted completely, the Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise sea level by 5-7 meters (16-23 feet). This visualization shows the effect on coastal regions for each meter of sea level rise, up to 6 meters (19.7 feet)."
CO2 emissions: "This visualization shows the amount of annual carbon dioxide emissions produced by the top 12 nations or regions from 1980-2004. Units are given in thousand metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel consumption."
Average global temperature: "This color-coded map shows a progression of changing global surface temperatures from 1885 to 2007. Dark blue indicates areas cooler than average. Dark red indicates areas warmer than average."
While this time machine won't allow us to change the past, it's a powerful tool that can educate people — and help us change the future.
Today's post comes courtesy of Matt Embrey. By day Embrey is a humble public servant, but by night he is a green blogger, DIY fiend, political junkie and eligible bachelor. He can also be found lurking on Twitter as @mattgup.