Big Data Helps Scientists Dig Deeper

acquisitions sliderboxSupercomputing + 40 Years of Landsat Images = A New Era for Earth Science

By Holli Riebeeik; NASA Earth Observatory

“When Rebecca Moore received the formal notice in 2006 about a proposed forest thinning initiative, she nearly tossed it out. The letter included an unintelligible black-and-white topographic map of her central California community. It marked the location of the forest and the path that helicopters would take as they hauled logs off the steep hillsides.

Topographic map of the San Jose area.

Residents of California’s Santa Clara County received a copy of this black-and-white topographic map of areas affected by a logging proposal. (Courtesy of Rebecca Moore/Google Earth Outreach.)

Just before the proposal hit the trash, it captured her curiosity. “I wanted to understand what this map was saying, because I wanted to know if my community was threatened,” said Moore. “We have the largest remaining stand of old-growth redwood trees in Santa Clara County.”

A Google employee, Moore wondered how the map might look in the newly released Google Earth. When she looked at the forest thinning plan on the satellite-based map, it became clear that helicopters would be towing trees right over several high-traffic areas, including a school. That Google map helped persuade the community to stop the thinning initiative.

The experience got Moore thinking: Could Google Earth do more? Would it be possible to combine the satellite data behind Google Earth with the company’s powerful data-sorting algorithms and cloud computing? … ”

Click here to continue reading at NASA’s Earth Observatory: Big Data Helps Scientists Dig Deeper: Supercomputing + 40 Years of Landsat Images = A New Era for Earth Science

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