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Google Earth, together with Science in the Classroom and the University of Maryland, have come together to provide a platform called Global Forest Change Explorer to help young ones see changing forests. The program aims to provide easy access to forest change data all over the world. Analyzing trends within countries as well as ecoregions can be done through the tool. Through this, users can look deeper into the underlying causes of forest change at specific locations.

Scientific data available for download and sharing

While providing forest change maps for analysis and viewing, users can also download and share scientific data through the tool. Through this tool, users can share direct links to specific regions, use different visualizations and download GeoTiff files.

Students are connected to the bigger picture

The Global Forest Change Explorer is designed to be used in classrooms. Teachers can use the program’s pre-built curriculum to lead students through the forest data as well as test their knowledge. The worksheet provided is a way for students to get familiar with using the tool. For instance, in Section 1 the instructions asks students to flip through the “Countries” tab in order to compare forest loss and then answer a couple of questions relating to the map. Sample questions include Which countries had the most forest loss from 2001-2013? and Which countries had the least forest loss from the 2001-2013?

Institutions coming together for a good cause

The Global Forest Change Explorer was created by three institutions: the University of Maryland, Google Earth and Science in the Classroom.

Professor Matthew Hansen of the University of Maryland is a remote sensing scientist who has a research specialization in large area land cover and land use change mapping. His research is centered on developing enhanced algorithms, data inputs and thematic outputs which allow land cover change to be mapped at regional, continental and global scales. These kinds of maps drive better informed approaches to natural resource management such as monitoring biodiversity and deforestation.

Google Earth, as we know, is an engine that offers users a planetary-scale platform for scientific data and analysis.

Science in the Classroom is the educational program of Science magazine aimed at making research accessible to students at both high school and university levels.

Google Earth is provided in both free and paid versions. While either version provides access to satellite imagery, maps, terrain and buildings, there are some features offered in the Pro version that you wouldn’t get in the free version.