Google Earth Engine launched in Cancun

Fri 3rd of December 2010, filed under Internet News

Building on the foundations of Google Earth

People have long used Google Earth to see how the world is changing, but now Google is making a concerted bid to win over scientists who track these changes for a living.

It is five years since the arrival of Google Earth, which gave users the chance to explore online satellite maps of the world for the first time. This week, at the International Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, the technology giant launched a new service that it hopes will provide a "common platform for global data analysis"? Google Earth Engine.

Google Earth Engine unveiled

Aimed at both independent scientists and entire nations, Google Earth Engine is a new technology platform that draws together more satellite imagery and data than ever before. It also allows users to compare the latest scientific measurements with those made over the last 25 years. As such, the Google Labs project could prove invaluable when it comes to mapping the causes and effects of climate change.

To demonstrate the potential of Google Earth Engine, the company has published an interactive map showing the level of tree cover in Mexico (pictured). Maps showing the distribution of water in central Africa and the extent of deforestation in the Amazon have also been released.

Rebecca Moore, engineering manager at Google Earth Engine, explained: "We hope that Google Earth Engine will be an important tool to help institutions around the world manage forests more wisely. As we fully develop the platform, we hope more scientists will use new Earth Engine API to integrate their applications online? for deforestation, disease mitigation, disaster response, water resource mapping and other beneficial uses."

Last year, the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen saw countries come together in an ill-fated bid to agree what steps were needed to tackle global warming. To coincide with the event, a special Google Earth climate change page was set up to show users exactly how our planet has changed over time and even predict what might happen in future.

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