In what promises to be one of the most impressive innovations to come out of the Cancun climate talks, the philanthropic arm of Google launched a new technology platform Thursday that will allow worldwide monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth's environment.
Google Earth Engine draws on 25 years of satellite images collected by LANDSAT, the longest continuing orbiting satellite on earth, to provide what the project's engineering manager Rebecca Moore calls "a living, breathing model of the earth with all of the data and analysis that's available."
The new product, which Google.org 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.
From The Washington Post
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