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!
Google Ocean (aka GE 5.0) is pretty amazing. It has so many features for both oceanographers and educators (to say nothing for those of us who are both ;)) that it will become a essential tool for all of us.
At Rutgers, we’re already using Google Earth to monitor and pilot our fleet of underwater gliders, and with the addition of negative altitude (that is, below sea level) we’re anxiously looking forward to developing new tools to allow scientists and the public a way to navigate through ocean observing data. And with the addition of the “tour” feature, we’ll be able to create canned tours for public and classroom audiences. We can create an underwater “fly over” tours across the Atlantic basin, highlighting the mid-Atlantic ridge. Or, much like how the new version features animal tracking from the TOPP program, we can create tours of the Gliders that let you see the ocean from the glider’s perspective.
Anyway, it’s all very cool and it will be fun to see what all of us can come up with with this new tool.
While there is no excuse for no diving right in and playing with all the new features of Google Earth 5.0, if you’re interested in a more formal “tour” I’d also recommend checking out the following video from the GE5 launch event. (The GE web site features a 2 minute intro to Google Ocean, but I think the formal presentation is much better.)
Starting about 20 minutes in, you can hear Dr. Sylvia Earle, perhaps the world’s most well-known oceanographer and ocean advocate, discuss how she encouraged Google to add the Ocean to what she initially called their “Google Dirt” program. She has a remarkable story. 50 years ago she had to travel the world to explore the ocean. And now, with a free program and an internet connection, people all over the world can explore the ocean. We’ve learned so much about the ocean in just a few decades, and yet there is still so much more to learn. Hopefully, Google Ocean will inspire a new generation of professional and even ametour oceanographers to join in the exploration.
By the way, if you’re interested in hearing about the “historical imagery” feature, Al Gore is right before Sylvia and talks about how GE5 can be used to show the public first hand how the planet is changing due to the effects of global warming. Enjoy!
Thank you for the video link. As a busy teacher, I’m always on the run and this made understanding the new version much easier.
I’m excited to hear how teachers are using Google Ocean in the classroom. I hope to soon ~ I’ll let you know how it goes!