Google Earth Engine will provide satellite images to help scientists see how forests are changing over time. The idea is to stunt deforestation in developing countries.
Google Dec. 2 rolled out a new cloud-based computing platform that puts past
and present satellite imagery online to gauge changes in Earth's environment.
Introduced at the International Climate Change Conference in Cancun,
is intended to help scientists detect how forests are changing
over time using trillions of images collected by U.S.
and French satellites over the last 25 years.
With the data, scientists may build applications for detecting deforestation
and mapping land use trends in developing nations such as Brazil,
central Africa and the Amazon.
In turn, the data could help these nations better allocate resources for
disaster response or water resource mapping, Google Earth Engine Engineering
Manager Rebecca Moore said in a blog post
Google Earth Engine leverages Google's parallel cloud of servers "to
cope with the massive scale of satellite imagery archives, and the
computational resources required for their analysis."
The company's Google.org philanthropic division will donate 10 million CPU
hours a year over the next two years on the Google Earth Engine platform to
help world nations track the state of their forests.
This, Google believes, will help nations prepare for the Reducing Emissions
from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries framework
proposed by the United Nations to provide financial incentives for protecting
forests all over the world.
Protecting forests, whose trees provide the oxygen support system humans
rely on, is crucial. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 18 percent of annual
greenhouse gas emissions, and the world loses 32 million acres of tropical
forests every year.
Google is encouraging scientists to use Google's Earth Engine API
to bring their applications online for deforestation, disease mitigation,
disaster response and water resource mapping, among other climate-related
The Earth Engine API is currently
available to a small group of partners but will be available more broadly later.