Cloud computing tracks climate change

Cloud computing is being used by search giant Google in order to track the impact of deforestation and map the devastation that is occurring in forests around the world.

Google used the Copenhagen climate change conference to unveil its new technology to an international audience last week. Leaders from hundreds of nations and many thousands of journalists and climate campaigners have descended on the Danish capital in an attempt to resolve the threat posed by climate change and global warming.

Google’s new software utilises the pictures captured for the Google Earth project to provide composite satellite imaging, resulting in a broad overview of the shape and state of various significant forests at different points over several decades. This allows scientists to accurately map and measure the rate of deforestation and provides a visual prop that allows everyone to appreciate the rapid decline of forests because of human activity.

The software also uses cloud computing to analyse the trends relating to deforestation. The purpose of this is to allow its users to quickly pinpoint sites where illegal logging is taking place and more generally measure the impact of deforestation on global warming in real terms.

Rebecca Moore and Amy Luers explained the purpose of the new Google venture in a blog post. They made no attempt to hide the fact that they hoped their new cloud computing-powered tools would allow a greater appreciation of just how serious the decimation of forests is to permeate the public perception.

Google hopes that its software will allow accurate and verifiable measurements of deforestation to be recorded. At the moment, scientists can only observe the continued destruction and measure the results in other areas, but with the power of cloud computing and Google’s data vaults working in tandem a link between the two will ideally be established.

The outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference is as yet unclear, although the complexity of the issues facing the world leaders and the disparity of wealth amongst nations is proving to be damaging to the whole affair. With tools such as this one from Google, scientists should be able to continue fighting for a cleaner, greener world.

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