CSIRO, Google partner for Earth watch

Australian scientists and non-profits will use Google Earth to save the Earth under several environment-focused partnerships with Google announced this week. Google yesterday announced it is bring its Google Earth Outreach program to Australia and New Zealand.

Researchers at CSIRO plan to contribute expertise and environmental data to Google Earth for better environmental monitoring.

CSIRO is testing the first new data tools in Google Earth Engine and expect to release them early next year, it said. A vegetation tool will combine CSIRO data and Google Earth’s satellite mapping capability to show where pests, disease, fire or feral animals may be attacking plant life.

The Google Earth tools will let researcher “access and process data in a matter of minutes to pinpoint potential issues and figure out the best action to take to investigate and respond without having to spend time and money with random surveys of huge tracts of land," said Alex Held, director of the CSIRO Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) AusCover facility.

"The health of our landscapes is vital to addressing key challenges such as food security, biodiversity conservation and agricultural productivity," Held said.

"For land managers to manage landscapes effectively, they need to be able to monitor, measure and understand changes."

"For decades Australian researchers have been refining the use of satellites for observing the earth and have combined this with expert field data and environmental models to contribute to landscape management,” he said.

"Similar vegetation mapping tools and satellite data are already in use, for example by the Australian forestry industry, and now through this partnership with Google we can make them more widely available to non-profit and community groups worldwide.”

In addition, Google announced other Google Earth Outreach projects with Macquarie University, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

Macquarie University has combined ecological theory with Google Earth satellite imagery to monitor the health of coral reef areas.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority launched a video made with Google Earth that follows a green turtle swimming across the Great Barrier Reef.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy launched two Google Earth tours. The first tour flies through AWC’s 23 sanctuaries covering more than 3 million hectares. The second tour overlays AWC geospatial data to show the impact of the group’s EcoFire project in the Kimberleys over six years.

Google also recently added underwater panoramas to its Maps website.

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