"Two and a half years ago, the software engineers behind Google Earth, the searchable online replica of the planet, were poised to fill an enormous data gap, adding the two-thirds of the globe that is covered by water in reality and was blue, and blank, online."
While you're there you can
explore thousands of data points including videos and images of ocean
life, details on the best surf spots, logs of real ocean expeditions,
and much more.
We were joined at the Academy by many of the dozens of ocean scientists and advocates who helped make this project a reality: friends from National Geographic, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the US Navy, Scripps Oceanography, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to name just a few.
Above all, I would
like to acknowledge the work of Dr. Sylvia Earle,
who cornered me at a conference three years ago and told me that Google
Earth was great but that it wasn't finished (you can read more about
that encounter on the Lat Long blog).
As much as I hated to admit it, she was right. We on the Google Earth
team had been working hard to build a rich 3D map of the world, but we
had largely ignored the oceans — two thirds of the planet. Inspired by
Sylvia, the team got to work. I hope you are as excited as I am to
explore our new Ocean and all of the fascinating stories and images our
partners have contributed.
But that's not all we launched today. In addition to Ocean, we introduced new features that we hope will enhance the way people interact with Google Earth and use it to communicate with the world.
- Historical Imagery: Until today, Google Earth displayed only one image of a given place at a given time. With this new feature, you can now move back and forth in time to reveal imagery from years and even decades past, revealing changes over time. Try flying south of San Francisco in Google Earth and turning on the new time slider (click the "clock" icon in the toolbar) to witness the transformation of Silicon Valley from a farming community to the tech capital of the world over the past 50 years or so.
- Touring: One of the key challenges we have faced in developing Google Earth has been making it easier for people to tell stories. People have created wonderful layers to share with the world, but they have often asked for a way to guide others through them. The Touring feature makes it simple to create an easily sharable, narrated, fly-through tour just by clicking the record button and navigating through your tour destinations..."
The whole thing is very cool and definitely worth checking out. And who knows, it may actually end of doing a whole lot of good in a whole lot of unanticipated ways.