Google Earth lets users dive in to explore ocean depths

Latest version of Google Earth also offers 3-D maps of Mars and historical images.

Dory and Marlin would likely have had an easier time finding Nemo if the new version of Google Earth was around at the time.

Google Monday launched the latest version of Google Earth, which promises to provide users with a much closer look at the Earth's oceans. The new version includes a detailed map of the ocean floor, Google noted.

John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Maps, wrote in a blog post Monday that the popular Google Earth has long showed users the ocean -- but mostly just as a big blue area with some basic shading to show depth. "But starting today we have a much more detailed bathymetric map (the ocean floor), so you can actually drop below the surface and explore the nooks and crannies of the seafloor in 3D," wrote Hanke. "While you're there, you can explore thousands of data points, including videos and images of ocean life, details on the best surf spots, logs of real ocean expeditions, and much more."

In a separate statement, Hanke added, "What this project helped me begin to understand is the role the ocean plays in global climate change and the impact that humans are having on the oceans and the creatures that live in it. It was a serious omission on our part not to include a better treatment of the oceans when we launched Google Earth, and I'm very happy that we've been able to address that. We now have a good substrate for publishing and exploring data about the 'other' two-thirds of the planet."

Caroline Dangson, an analyst with IDC, said the addition of ocean views in the new version of Google Earth is significant for users.

"Google is a market leader because it does not see limits to what its services can do," she said. "Oceans add much more content to Google Earth for consumers to explore. Ocean in Google Earth is sticky and will keep consumers on the service longer, exploring places only a few scientists have been."

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
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