google earth tour

The Census of Marine Life in Google Earth

The Census of Marine Life, is the major international oceanographic research project involving researchers in over 80 countries, who tagged more than 120,000 types of species & millions of organisms over the past decade.

The project is now revealing their findings for the 2010 calendar year. This has served to create the first world oceanographic census, a baseline for scientific comparison. Check this video, for an eloquent and dizzying introduction the project.

A peek at this series of maps, entitled ‘Footprints’, shows in an instant the unprecedented breadth of the study.

Throughout the course of the census, thousands of new species of ocean life have been discovered, with millions of individual organisms catalogued & counted.

Thousands of smaller, specific studies have formed the core of this oceanographic census. The sum of the results from wave height & oceanic topography censors, studies on human impacts on oceanic ecosystems, projections from the International Census of Marine Microbes, and more work to paint the most complete portraiture of the ocean possible thus far.

One of the finest, and most widespread contributions from the CoML project, is built in to the Ocean’s feature, in the layers panel of Google Earth 5.

Activating the census of marine life tab in Google Earth gives access to the findings, photos, and information from over 130 waypoints cataloguing a variety of fieldwork performed throughout the census.

The census is still taking submissions from their own oceanographers & researchers, and adding more stories from the project to Google Earth.

As a bonus, the census also features three guided Google Earth Tours: The Census of Marine Life Global Tour, a Trans-Pacific Sea Turtle Migration Tour, and a deep ocean Dive Through tour.

Quite frankly, this is close to the human genome project of Oceanography, in terms of scope and ambition. The Census of Marine Life has provided GIS geeks, Young Cousteauists, and Marine Researches with enough data to sift through for lifetimes. The project has even inspired a following amongst artists.

And yet, this is only one, small, oft-unchecked box in Google Earth. Rather humbling to think about, and definitely worthy of admiration, awe, and respect.

What’s even more awe-inspiring, is that there remain millions of miles to be tagged, and thousands of species still undiscovered.

Here at GeoCurrents we’d like to give a special thanks to the Census of Marine life, for providing layers of data as deep as the Mariana Trench.

(Art by Daichi Fujita, winner of a Census of Marine Life Art Contest, and a deep sea ROV tour)

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South Africa’s Soccer Stadiums & Slums in Google Earth

The World Cup has come to an exciting start this week, with no shortage of triumph and tumult.

To begin, take a fly around the Republic of South Africa and be sure to check out all of the host cities. Google Earth has released 3D models of all ten stadiums, as well as new panoramic photographs of the venues via street view mode.




To download a tour of the venues, download this file, created by the good folks at Google Earth (also responsible for this wonderful Jacques Cousteau Inspired KML recently).

While the goaltender blunders and vuvuzelas have stolen the headlines over the first week, riot police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets on South African World Cup employees staging a peaceful protest, after they were drastically underpaid from their agreed wages or not paid at all.

For a drastic counterpoint to the fantastic 3d images of the world cup stadiums- Point your browser to the recently evicted sweltering sandy shantytown of Blikkiesdorp.


South Africa has made great strides since the release of Mandela 20 years ago. Still this news, paired with a flyover of the cities surrounding the venues reveals the extent of inequality.

The road to the world cup was paved with evictions and ‘voluntary relocation programs,’to, dare I say, whitewash the rougher edges city for the thousands of oncoming & certainly judgmental western eyes and voices.



It would best serve FIFA and the South African to consider a ban on enforcing shady business dealings with tear gas, rather than a ban on vuvuzelas or even condoms, in exchange for the illusion of safety and security.

There’s a bit more of a health risk involved.

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The Latest on the Gulf Oil Spill in Google Earth

The Gulf Oil Slick as of 5/8/10



After last week’s dystopian projections on GeoCurrents, last Monday’s New York Times countered with unreasonably rosy projections. Good news sells papers. The article conveyed a sense of hope in its readers that the spill, was not as large as feared, and could be easily plugged as soon as this week. Their only quote from a so-called “Marine Biologist,” was, “The sky is not falling.”


Unfortunately, the rosy Monday articles were wrong, and their estimates on the breadth of the spill were embarrassingly low, based on faulty estimates fed to them from government agencies (see also: Iraq). Skytruth, for example, has found that initial official government and BP figures, widely quoted by the press, have been generated via ballpark estimate without proof. A NOAA Admiral is quoted, calling any estimation, “Impossible.”

Hate to break it to ya, Chicken Little, but the sky is falling. The proof can be found in the clouds of sludgy soot, bridging the ocean to the land. The proof can be found in the fact that the working environmental response plan, can be simplified as, “call us when you find dead stuff.” The proof can be found when even Al-Jazeera is sympathetic to this travesty. Just look at all the dead sea turtleswashing ashore.

The Reuters Factboxsince the spill, reads as a list of sequential failures, grand in scope and cost. The capping dome/containment system put in place days ago, has failed due to the buildup of ice-like Methane crystals / the inability to skirt the laws of physics. The rupture is more than five thousand feet below the surface of the sea, and must be accessed by these machines, as humans cannot survive at such depths.


As predicted, on GeoCurrents, last week, the slick hit the fragile Chandeleur Barrier Islands, home to the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. The Northeastern part of the slick has made its way towards the Mississippi delta. The next major milestone for the oil would be the gulf stream.

The title, worst-case-scenario, does not involve hyperbole on our part. The oil is as thick as crude comes, buried deep, and threatening the whole of the Gulf of Mexico. Until a relief well is dug (if even, possible, three months from now), the three main options to slowing the spill are: plugging the spill with a new smaller dome, cutting the pipe (which could actually increase flow), and plugging the hole with material with a “Junk Gun,” which sounds more like an item from Captain Nemo’s Nautiulus, than an effecive deterrent to what is quickly becoming the worst environmental disaster of all time.


While we can’t plug the spill from home, knowledge of the spill, is power, as always. To stay up on the true extent of the spill, here are some more of the latest tools for tracking the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Google Earth.

This GeoCurrentcast utilizes the most recent layovers available in the google earth community, combined with an original lecture, backed with the most recent Satellite Data and Imagery. The visible surface size of the slick, current flows, satellite images, and rupture sites are all marked in this file.

To view this file, open Google Earth and download this file. Then double click the video icon in Google Earth to play the tour. You can toggle the satellite imagery, overlays, and information in the Google Earth Browser on your own, outside of tour mode.

Finally, take the time to play with this web-module, which will compare the size of your own city, to the size of the oil well.

Below is a map of the spill’s forecasted trajectory through Wednesday, generated of by NOAA today (Sunday, 5/9):



A look at the above image, alongside our Google Earth Current flows, shows that within the next two weeks, the oil slick could get dangerously coast to catching a ride on the Gulf stream loop current.

So, while we await the sum totals of disaster, and are forced to burn crude a so thick and heavy and deep, not even hydrocarbon-starved microbes can decompose the oil. Instead, part of the procedure is to torch these now desolate grey-watered ocean wastelands.


Once the worst of the slick has burned off, diluted, and moved beyond the gulf, the United States will still be left swathes of unanswered questions on ecological recovery, liability(the BP FAQis a great source), social justice, and the future of Offshore Drilling in world energy policy. Hopefully this inexcusable tragedy can be used is utilized as a rallying point for change, otherwise it’s all for naught.

We’re sticking to the grim prediction at GeoCurrents.info that the Deepwater Horizon spill will be a record breaker in terms of total volume and dollars.

We are all guilty.

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Unmitigated Environmental Disasters Illustrated

This week’s Geocurrentcast is entirely dedicated to about baker’s dozen sites that epitomize the nasty human footprint that comes with heavy metals, heavy industry, and heavy consumerism.

 

The histories of Stalinist industrial wastelands, leaking oil Nigerian pipelines, massive American landfills, Brazilian Deforestation, smog filled Chinese cities, and towering Sarin gas smelters are all illustrated in this weeks in Google Earth tour on Geocurrents.info.

In order to view the tour, first download Google Earth.

Then download this KMZ file, with complete with descriptions, waypoints, and overlays to increase your understanding of these man made tragedies.

Rather than lecture over the tour, the areas speak for themselves. I’ve provided basic historic information, but I encourage all to see this as a call for social justice.

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A Parade of Man Made Oddities: Shipwrecks, Crop Circles and the CCCP

This week was rife with tragic news: the Polish Presidential plane crash in Russia, revolutions and upheaval in Kyrgyzstan, and refugee crises emerging from Tamil emigrees from Sri Lankan, I thought it would be best to leave the gravity to the newspapers for the time being, and insert a bit of humor into this week’s Geocurrentcast.

This weeks tour, which can be accessed by downloading this KMZ File for Google Earth, is a compilation of a dozen of the most stunning, humorous, and mysterious sites that have rose to prominence the Google Earth Forums and on Google Earth Hacks.

This compendium of man made geographic oddities includes: crop circles, monolithic Antarctic remnants of the CCCP, ship graveyards and sunbathers.



The goal of this exercise, aside from dazzling you with Geographic Eye Candy, is to pique your curiosity towards the less conventional uses of Google Earth.

As a bonus to this tour, I’ve also composed and included what might be the first comedy sketch ever composed in Google Earth tour mode, ‘Jumping off Niagara Falls in a Barrel.”

Double click the video icon for this one minute long sketch, loosely based off of the existential desperation of Western New York depicted in Vincent Gallo’s landmark independent film, Buffalo 66.

As always, happy flying.

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Geocurrents on Mars- A 3D Tour of the Red Planet in Google Earth

This weekend’s Google Earth adventure on Geocurrents will take us to a place colder than Svalbard or the Ross Ice Shelf, and dustier than the Namib, Nefud, or Taklaman Deserts.

With sweeping dune fields, seismic chasms, deep double impact craters, and a monolithic human face; Mars is a geographer, topographer, seismographer, hydrologist, and conspiracy theorist’s delight.

Provided for you, below, is a smooth, short narrated flyover tour of the red planet. The tour highlights the planet’s topographical features, including: the first man made object on mars, dune fields, polar ice caps, rover sites, canyons, dried riverbeds, and the captivating ‘Cydonia’ formation.


If you’re already comfortable with Google Earth,
download the video tour and waypoints here. Otherwise, instructions on accessing our Martian tour are provided below.

First, download and install a copy of Google Earth.

Once you’ve loaded the program, switch your Google Earth browser into Mars mode. You can do this by using the explore tab in the view bar, as shown below:

Next, download this file, which contains both the narrated guided tour, and our waypoints. To play the tour, double click the video reel in the sidebar. The tour is at its most awe inspiring when viewed in full screen mode with the sidebar disabled.


You may also explore the planet step by step by double clicking the waypoints to fly from feature to feature.

Make sure to stop and read the information linked to the featured landmarks. This information provided by NASA, Google, and the University of Arizona, will enhance your tour experience.

This tour marks giant leap for Geocurrents.info.

Happy flying!

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Free Tours of Guantanamo Bay… in Google Earth

Guantanamo and the United States, and One Cashed Rent Check
Today’s post focuses on Guantanamo Bay, and is illustrated with Google Earth.
Please download a free copy of Google Earth, and then download this KML file, as an interactive accompaniment to this Geocurrents post.

Guantanamo Bay was obtained by the United States following the Spanish American war. The natural harbor made it an important staging point for the 1898 invasion of Cuba.
In 1903, with US Warships still docked in the bay, the newly independent Cuban government signed a deal with the United States granting it a perpetual lease on the land.
At the time, what made Guantanamo such a key strategic site for the United States’ ambition for hegemony in Latin America, was the fact that it was the best harbor laying on the Windward Passage, a key shipping lane through the Caribbean to the Panama Canal.

The US maintained control of the area, through a series of treaties: the Cuban American Treaty of 1930 and the Avery Porko treaty of 1934, with the US paying approximately a 2000 dollar a year lease on the land and shared access to the waters. This treaty provided that only US abandonment of the base or mutual agreement would end the stay. For a more heavily detailed version of the terms and geography of this controversy this report from SEMP, will get you up to speed.
The heart of the territorial controversy about the area between the US and Cuba (aside from acquisition through imperial force & that it’s a staging point for torture) can be pinpointed at in the diction used in the top right hand corner of the map below.


The Phrase ‘Reaffirmed in 1963,’ was really only reaffirmed by one side, the United States.
The US State Department has kept the position that Castro’s revolution government reaffirmed the lease by cashing a US check for the land, shortly after taking power. Castro has played this as an early bureaucratic mistake, and has not cashed any checks since. Castro considers the occupation of Guantanamo Bay illegal.
According to Castro, the US Checks are made out to the ‘Treasurer General of the Republic,” a position that does not exist in his government. He keeps the US Checks in a desk, as a souvenir.
The detainment and torture of US prisoners on Cuban soil, is obviously a touchy issue for the Cuban government, and Obama may have realized this during efforts to re-engage with the Cuban Government, taking steps on closing Guantanamo.
Obama has announced plans to move the current detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois, a prison with an unused Maximum Security wing. The Prison, once beefed up for the detainees will exceed Supermax status, boasting 15-foot walls, electrified with 7000 volts.
If I may throw a diplomatic idea out here: I suggest that United States return Guantanamo to the Cubans as a bargaining chip to restore benevolent diplomatic relations. This isn’t 1900, we don’t need to scramble to bully the Windward Passage and protect the Panama Canal anymore. The Guantanamo territory was taken in an imperialist war over a century ago, and is an exclave that almost exclusively encompasses US imperialism and torture.


For the Google Earth Portion of this tour, which I linked at the beginning of the article, I suggest you explore not just the topography of the region, but also the inconsistencies in the region.
Much of the Guantanamo Terrain is obscured intentionally in the images, and many of the map overlays I’ve tried with the software are inconsistent. Huge hills jut out of nowhere, showing that there is a geographical cover up, going on with Google Earth in Guantanamo.
The tour will then swing to aerials views of the detainee’s future home, in Thomson, Illinois. No cover-ups there, just corn.
All this has brought me to think that, I could only imagine what would have happened if Khrushchev and Kennedy had Google Earth during the Cold War.

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54-40 or Fight, Canadian Bacon, and Vancouver: Land of the Olympics and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh

We’re going to run with the Olympic torch here at Geocurrents, and fill you in on the history and geography of Vancouver, beefed up with 3D Google Earth imagery.

Vancouver is North America’s fourth largest seaport, by tonnage. This owes largely to the geography of the region. The port is nestled away the pacific, by Vancouver Island, and the straits of Georgia, making it the most suitable harbor in the region.

Vancouver was originally home to the Squamish (alternately spelled Sḵwx̱wú7mesh), Tsleil-Waututh, and Xwméthkwyiem peoples of the Coast Salish Language Family. In the late 18th century, Englishman George Vancouver, and Spaniard José Maria Naravez, begun the first wave of European exploration, smallpox, slaughter and indigenous displacement.

The Fraser Canyon Gold Rush and Klondike Gold Rush brought large waves of immigrants and prospectors into the city in the 19th century. Opportunities in mining, timber and furs, and manufacturing and attracted a constant flow of immigrants. By virtue of these factor endowments, Vancouver to displaced British Columbia’s provincial capital, Victoria, as the economic powerhouse of the region.

Vancouver’s proximity to the United States also bolstered its Olympic candidacy. Historically, Vancouver began the 19th century as a geographical grey area, administered as the Oregon Country by both the United States and Great Britain up to the border with Russia at the 54th Parallel. US president James Polk, appealed to expansionists with the campaign 1844 slogan 54’ 40 or Fight, but instead settled on the 49th parallel, and brought the fight to Mexico.

Vancouver was part of the extreme US claim for the Northwest, but the US lost its chance at Vancouver with the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which set today’s border at the 49th parallel. Still, expansionists were not pleased, and territorial grey area remained between the US and Canada until the resolution of history’s funniest bloodless, ‘The Pig War.

The Pig War begun in 1859 on the island of San Juan, which with the Canadian city of Victoria to the West, and the American city of Bellingham, to the East, the Strait of Georgia to the North, and the Strait of Juan de Faca to the South. The boar of a Canadian farmer wandered on to the potato patch of an American farmer, so the American farmer shot the pig. The situation escalated to the point where over 2000 British troops, and 500 American troops squared off, but hurled nothing more than insults.

Peace was resolved under President Buchanan, but the territorial disputes between the US and Canada were not finalized until 1871 and, with the Treaty of Washington, and 1872, when an international arbiter under the guidance of Kaiser Wilhelm set the US-Canadian Marine Boundaries near Vancouver Island.

With the most active harbor in the Pacific Northwest, a few gold rushes worth of immigration, and British and American technological innovation, Vancouver had the pieces in place to blossom in to a Olympic host city, nearly a century ago.

Here’s where the fun comes in. For those of you who cannot afford a private blimp ride over the games, I’ve put together a floating satellite image tour of Vancouver in Google Earth.

Start on the tour by downloading Google Earth.

Now download this file.

Happy flying!

The mountain that you’ll see in the tour is Whistler Mountain, 70 miles north of Vancouver. It is a part of the Coastal Mountain Range, which runs up from California to Alaska. The kind folks at Google Earth went so far as to do a 3D panoramic street view for the mountain’s trails, inan update earlier this week.

(Note: Geocurrents is not responsible for any injury incurred during virtual Bobsledding tours)

This Geocurrents tour was largely built around the groundwork done here andherein the Google earth blog and forums, respectively.

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