forest cover map

The highest-resolution forest cover map of Mexico ever was created by Google Earth Engine using 53,000 Landsat scenes.

Today at the UN climate convention in Cancun, Mexico, Google Labs announced the release of the Google Earth Engine, a project designed to use Earth observation data to enable global change monitoring. The engine relies heavily on 25 years worth of Landsat data (TM and ETM+).

With Earth Engine, developing nations can better track their deforestation rates. This could feed directly into the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project which seeks to monitor and incentivize forest preservation.

Importantly, along with easy access to the data, Google Labs will provide the computer processing time needed to analyze the data to turn it into useable and reliable information.

In an impressive illustration of the Earth Engine’s processing power, Google used 53,000 Landsat scenes collected between 1984 and 2010 to create the highest-resolution forest and water map of Mexico ever created. The map took 15,000 hours of computer processing time to create, but the Earth Engine was able to compile the map in less than one day using 1,000 computers in parallel.

Thanks to the USGS Landsat Project for their continued coordination with the Google.org team.

Further Information:
+ Introducing Google Earth Engine [external link]
+ Washington Post: Google Earth Engine Debuts [external link]
+ Landsat at COP15