What kind of news would you expect from an event at which Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Vice President Al Gore deliver speeches surrounded by ocean creatures? If you’re thinking something on climate change (Gore), the Internet (Google and Schmidt) and the ocean (it’s taking place at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco), then you’re probably right. At 10AM today Google is scheduled to unveil somethin’, and according to the Guardian Google will announce how it is using Google Earth to map the world’s oceans, complete with maps of seabeds and underwater imagery that can show the effects of climate change on seas.
Update: As expected, Google launched version 5.0 of Google Earth, which includes detailed ocean data (the ability for the user to dive beneath the surface) and “historical imagery” that features a time slider of satellite data for a location over time. Gore used the time slider feature to show the disappearance of the glaciers over time and said his hope is that people will use Google Earth to see the reality of what is happening with climate change. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, showed the audience the imagery of diving under water and seeing the ocean floor, which drew cheers from the crowd. The event finished up with a song from Jimmy-Margaritaville-Buffett, who showed off Google Earth clips of his own global musical tour. (More photos below)
Google has long used its mapping and satellite imagery services for environmental aims, and it has a Google Earth Outreach section that allows organizations to create a variety of do-gooder information layers on top of Google Earth, making that data publicly available and easily visualized. Last May, the Met Office Hadley Center and the British Antarctic Survey worked with Google Earth to launch climate change-related mapping info, featuring an animated globe of the Center’s model of CO2 concentrations spanning from November 1999 forward to October 2099. (And here’s our own eco-tour of Google Earth! You first have to download the software and open the KML layers.)
Google Earth is really great tool to view the global impact of climate change. A visual representation of the effects on oceans can help the public grasp how large the problem is. “Google Oceans” is also part of the search engine giant’s overall plan to use the Internet and communication technology to make information more accessible (for more on that come to our Green:Net conference, which will feature three Google speakers). We’ll bring you the updates from the event right here!