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Archive for the ‘Google Earth’ Category

Google recently announced that Google Earth has been downloaded one billion times. While some news reports mistakenly equate this to it being downloaded by one billion people (I’m probably responsible for at least 100 downloads), it is certainly the closest thing to a ubiquitous resource in the geospatial community.

Virtual globes like Google Earth provide an intuitive way to learn about earth system processes. Michael Goodchild, a leading geographic information scientist at the University of California-Santa Barbara, once advanced a “ten-ten rule” when speaking of virtual globes – it takes a ten-year old about ten minutes to master the workings of virtual globe software.

In order to celebrate passing the one billion mark in just six years, Google created a website titled One World. Many Stories. It includes an interactive timeline that shows how Google Earth is used for the following topics

  • Cartography for All (exploring the world in a new way)
  • Community Stories (protecting resources, traditions, citizens, and the environment through mapping)
  • Armchair Archeology (combining traditional archeological methods with the power of technology)
  • Teach the World (expanding knowledge through geography)
  • Protect the Earth (driving awareness of environmental issues)
  • Mapping for Good (aiding humanitarian relief and disaster response)
  • Virtual Travel (seeing the world from the comfort of home), and
  • Off the Map (developing unique perspectives of the world)

The stories include a date, geo-coordinates, a link to a KML file.

My favorite story is about GoogleLitTrips – a web site that features Google Earth applications that provide a different perspective on great works of literature. The site was established by Jerome Burg when he was teaching English at a high school in California. I met Jerome at the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association’s 2009 Spring Conference in Madison. Check out the Google Lit Trips for Paddle-to-the-Sea and The Big Two-Hearted River that I developed with the help of my children.

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Bathymetry displayed in Google Earth

Bathymetry in Google Earth

The other day I was working on a project to determine feasible locations in Florida’s coastal waters to site mooring fields for recreational boaters. I had the need to “see” water depths…and fairly quickly. I was pleasantly surprised to come across bathymetric data sets for selected U.S. estuaries produced by NOAA’s National Ocean Service. Even better, the data sets are available as Google Earth Visualization Files. Thus, if you have Google Earth (GE) installed, all you have to do is click the link for your estuary of interest and the data will open in GE, color-coded to represent different depths.

These data are available in 30 meter (and 3 arc second) resolution and, as stated by NOAA, are not to be used for navigation. But they do add great value to other information that you can display in GE, such as the locations of marinas, communities, and more. If you have specific uses in mind for this data, make sure to read the information posted by NOAA to ensure that it is appropriate for your needs.

For more instructions on how to get bathymetry data for your estuary… (more…)

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