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Google Earth used to track environmental changes  

Google has announced the launch of its latest earth-mapping tool, which could help scientists track how the environment has changed over recent decades as well as helping them to track changes and future trends in deforestation and desertification across the world.

The Google Earth Engine uses historical data gathered over the past 25 years, alongside ‘trillions of scientific measurements’ collected by NASA’s LANDSAT satellite. The company, which announced the new technology at the recent Cancun climate change talks, says it is already working on applications to allow the accurate mapping of deforestation and land use trends to produce the most accurate ever scale map of Mexico’s forest and water resources.

According to Environmental News Network, that project alone would previously have taken three years to process using a single computer. With the Google Earth Engine, the analysis took just one day.

Google says it will offer 20 million CPU hours free to developing nations and scientific organisations in order to use the new platform. It is hoped that Google Earth Engine could become a critical tool for the enforcement of land management initiatives as well as helping to track changes in land use and the effects of water usage in different areas.

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