Google Earth Engine monitoring tropical forests

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Google Earth Engine was launched Dec. 2 at the International Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. Google Earth Engine is a new technology platform that puts an unprecedented amount of satellite imagery and data - current and historical - online for the first time.

It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the Earth's environment, including monitoring the world's tropical forests. The platform will enable scientists to use the company's extensive computing infrastructure - the Google "cloud" - to analyze this imagery. By piecing together satellite data, the rate of deforestation in areas such as the Amazon, the Congo basin and Indonesia can be monitored.

Images of the planet from space contain a wealth of information, ready to be extracted and applied to many societal challenges, according to Google. Scientific analysis can transform these images from a mere set of pixels into useful information such as the locations and extent of global forests, detecting how our forests are changing over time, directing resources for disaster response or water resource mapping.

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