Posts Tagged ‘google’


The Earth is a complex, dynamic organism that is constantly transforming with the rhythms of the Universe.  For the past 40 years, the Landsat satellite has been capturing images of the world’s changing landscapes, covering the same area every 16 days.  The program was launched in 1972 as a joint venture between NASA and the US Geological Survey in an effort to collect “remote sensing” information.  A recent story by Treehugger explains how Landsat, in collaboration with Google’s Earth Engine, is compiling trillions of images taken over the decades to be used free of charge.

It is hoped that scientists, governments, and independent researches will be able to take advantage of the data, helping to solve problems such as deforestation, estimating biomass and carbon levels, and mapping unexplored and roadless areas.  Google and Landsat have already released a video detailing the project, as well as fascinating time-lapse pieces.  Among some of the most interesting subjects include Las Vegas’ urban explosion, the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, and drying of the Aral Sea.

Landsat has already been involved with a number of projects that aim to devise solutions to some of the globe’s most perplexing problems through the use of standardized scientific data.  From watching how nations control and utilize water resources to studying the effects of climate change on vegetation and population, our survival may just be getting a little help from someone watching from above.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it is the image that leaves us speechless that affects us in the most profound ways.  Powerful imagery has a history of influencing political change, capturing moments of beauty, and crystalizing the fleeting instants of everyday life.  It is with this understanding of the significance of striking photography and video that ARKive was formed.  In an effort to build awareness of the world’s endangered species at a time where rates of extinction are the highest in Earth’s known history, ARKive serves as an online repository for images and recordings of the world’s most vulnerable life forms.

With support from the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, BirdLife International, IUCN, UNEP-WCMC, Wildescreen USA Inc., the London Museum of Natural History, Kew Botanical Gardens and the Smithsonian, ARKive has brought together over 3,500 of the world’s foremost filmmakers and photographers to create an extraordinary collection of plants and animals.  The organization has also collaborated with Google to design layers for its Google Earth program and is a major contributor to the Institutional Council of the Encyclopedia of Life.  Eventually, the site hopes to reach its goal of completing full profiles for each of the 17,000 species on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

It is remarkably easy to get lost exploring this website.  Between browsing the spectacular photos of flora and fauna, watching video of my favorite animals, sending e-cards to my friends, and listening to Sir David Atenborough’s introduction to the ARKive project, I easily spent a good hour tooling around and feeding my inner nature nerd.  Teachers will enjoy the education portion of the site that features downloadable resources for several different age groups.  Each section includes classroom presentations, scrapbooks, teacher and student packets, and extension materials in a variety of engaging games and interactive formats.

ARKive is an amazing synthesis of technology and nature and is an innovative way to connect with elements of nature that we would otherwise not be able to experience.  From tigers and aardvarks to fungus and flowers, you can explore the world from your desktop and perhaps capture the last glimpses of unique organisms on this planet .

Have a favorite endangered plant or animal?  Let us know!