By now everyone has heard that Google recently released its latest and greatest version of Google Earth (version 5.0) complete with an abundance of ocean “stuff:” shipwreck information; video clips; you can even rate kite surfting spots. But what all the articles and news reports have neglected to tell us is that you can spend literally hours upon hours of precious life sitting in front of your computer screen just panning over the globe checking out all the different ocean tidbits.
Needless to say, those of us in ocean education are excited, especially those of us who work with ocean observing systems. In most cases, it is still much easier to go to our favorite OOS sites and poke around for the data we are looking for. However, lets think about the “general public” for a minute and take a stab at how often these folks stumble across the OOS sites that we use on a weekly basis. I’m guessing not very often! But now, thanks to Google Earth 5.0, which the general public seems to love, given the amount of coverage the new-version release received, they can more easily stumble across OOS information that is peppered throughout the coasts. In Google Earth 5.0, simply look for the yellow buoy icons (which may also resemble traffic cones!), and you are instantly linked to up-to-the-minute ocean and atmospheric data. Quick, what is the wind speed in Venice, FL?! Pretty amazing!
So if you haven’t yet checked out version 5.0, do yourself a favor and download it. But maybe set up an egg timer or something so you don’t spend too much time exploring the world! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!