Google Earth for scientists

October 5, 2006 at 5:32 pm (Science)

Google Earth wasn’t really intended for scientists. The Google search engine’s extraordinary globe, which is made up of hundreds of thousands of satellite photos and aerial images, first became well-known as a game for virtual hobby pilots. But now the scientific community is discovering how useful the software is for their own work.

With a single keystroke, biologist Born superimposes colored maps over the Arctic. The maps show him where the ice sheet is getting thinner and the direction in which the pieces of floating ice on which walruses like to catch a ride are drifting. All of the ice data, which comes from satellites and measuring buoys, is available on the Internet. By loading the data into the program, Born can detect how global warming is affecting the migratory behavior of his giant walruses.

Details and more expert opinions @ Spiegel

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