Google is adding extreme heat warnings to Search in a foreboding sign of how humanity will need to adapt to the crippling effects of climate change.
The new alerts will surface when users search terms like ‘heat wave’ and will present users with information on how long the severe temperatures are is expected to last, as well as tips on what to do to stay healthy and cool.
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Google’s action comes following recorded temperatures that obliterated longstanding records in the United Kingdom and many other places last summer. On July 19 last year, the temperature hit 40.3 °C (104.5 °F) in the UK. The previous record was 38.7 °C (101.7 °F).
“To surface authoritative and helpful information in these moments, we’re rolling out new extreme heat alerts in Search in the coming months,” Google announced in a blog post today.
“When people search for information on extreme heat, they’ll see details on when a heat wave is predicted to start and end, tips on staying cool, and related health concerns to be aware of — all prominently displayed in Search results. To make sure the information is relevant and accurate, we’re working with the Global Heat Health Information Network (GHHIN).”
Google is using its AI nous to work with cities to address the Heat Islands phenomenon that means urban areas can often feel the extreme temperatures more… er… extremely because of structures and roads that absorb and re-emit heat.
One solution is a Tree Canopy. Google says its Environmental Insights Explorer combines AI and aerial imagery that can help cities like Austin in Texas make contingency plans. That has led to the city prioritise planting trees in vulnerable areas and to increase shade at bus shelters.
That initiative has expanded to 350 cities around the world, which Google says can help to create cooler environments for hundreds of millions of people.