http://google.org/earthengine | Learn more about Google Earth Engine, a new platform that puts an unprecedented amount of satellite imagery and data -- current and historical -- online for the first time and enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth's environment. It aims to show "how the earth is changing under a changing climate, and use that information to drive public policy... We're hoping that it will elevate people's understanding of the planet."
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The philanthropic arm of Google is launched a new technology platform on Thursday, December 9, 2010, that will allow worldwide monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth's environment.
The new product, from Google.org - Google Technology-Driven Philanthropy - the philanthropic arm of the company. This web site lists Google's philanthropic activities.
This was developed over the past two years and will post online for free, could prove critical in helping developing nations track deforestation rates in real time as well as other key environmental changes. One of the few substantive achievements the United Nations climate talks may produce is an agreement on how to compensate rainforest nations for preserving their forests in order to absorb carbon dioxide, but these efforts need to be validated by tracking data that proves the regions in question face the pressure of deforestation and have been able to resist it.
Google is providing 20 million CPU hours free of charge to the developing world and scientific community in order to help these groups take advantage of the new analytical tool. This could provide a basis for enforcing agreements forged under the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD), which may be finalized as early as next week in Cancun. Google hopes that the Earth Engine will emerge as a critical tool in the enforcement of land management initiatives such as the UN's REDD programme in which wealthier nations pay developing nations to preserve rainforests.
Usually Google Labs - Explore Google's New Ideas products are cloaked in secrecy. However, you can play around with prototypes of some of Google's wild and crazy ideas and offer feedback directly to the engineers who developed them
In the case of Google's Earth Engine , however, they have drawn on collaboration with scientists such as Greg Asner - Carnegie Institution for Science, Carlos Souza of Imazon and Matt Hansen - Geographic Information Science Center at South Dakota State University to refine the forest monitoring tool.
Along with Hansen and Conafor - Comisión Nacional Forestal. Información sobre el organismo, sus visiones, misiones y programas para integrar, organizar, actualizar y difundir la - [ Translate this page ], Mexico's national forestry commission, Google has already used the platform to create the finest-scale forest and water map ever made of Mexico. It required 15,000 hours of computation, which normally would have taken three years if run on a single computer, but the group completed it in less than a day on the Google Earth Engine by using 1,000 computers running simultaneous (in parallel) to process more than 53,000 LANDSAT scenes taken between 1984 and 2010. CONAFOR provided data it had collected on the ground to calibrate and validate the algorithm.
Hopefully, and we are all optimistic about this, policymakers can make progress on saving temperate and tropical forests worldwide, in part because of technological advances and the political will in both developed and developing nations.
New Google Earth Engine (news.sciencemag.org)
Google lends its massive computing cloud in fight against deforestation (news.mongabay.com)
New Google Technology Monitors Environment (doyourpart.com)
Amazon Tribe Using Android Phones to Combat Deforestation (intomobile.com)
Google Unveils Powerful New Tool (huffingtonpost.com)
Introducing Google Earth Engine (google.org)
Google Earth Engine Revealed At COP 16 (techcrunch.com)
Label: Environment, Global Warming