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Photos: Google Earth goes green

Google watches over the environment

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Topic: Developer
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Google watches over the environment

Google has launched Google Earth Engine, a global mapping tool designed to track changes to the environment.

The engine consists of a database of satellite images of the Earth's surface dating back more than 25 years, and a set of software tools that spot and map environmental changes in those images.

The Earth Engine platform is being made available to researchers and scientists worldwide to help with projects such as mapping forests and water resources.

Google is donating 10 million CPU hours on its servers each year over the next two years to the Earth Engine platform for the analysis of the satellite images.

This is an example of one of the maps produced using Google Earth Engine, showing forest cover in Mexico.

It was created in less than a week, principally by analysing four years of images taken by the enhanced thermatic mapper onboard the Landsat 7 satellite and data from the Mexico National Forest Inventory.

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This map shows areas of persistent surface water in central Africa from 2000 to 2010 and was produced by identifying bodies of water from satellite images during that period.

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A map showing different types of vegetation and soil throughout the Amazon region in South America.

This kind of map can be used to spot deforestation and forest degradation.

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This map highlights areas of the world that are of environmental interest by marking them as bright spots.

The bright spots on the map correspond with those areas that Landsat 7 has scanned most often. It was put together using almost 400,000 Landsat 7 satellite images dating back to 1999.

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This map shows forest loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa between 2000 and 2010.

Areas of forest loss are classified as those areas where canopy cover by trees five metres or taller has declined to below 30 per cent.

More than 8,000 Landsat images were processed to make this map.

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