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Google Earth Engine is taking its closest look yet at how landscapes are changing

Popular Science, June 9, 2022: “Today, Google Earth is launching a project called Dynamic World, a new endeavor that creates maps that come paired with a novel deep learning AI model. It’s able to classify land cover by type (water, urban, forest, crops) at a resolution of 10 meters, or 32 feet. That means each pixel covers about 10 meters of land. For comparison, previous state-of-the-art technology had a 100 meter resolution (320 feet). Dynamic World is a way for people to observe from space the myriad ways land cover changes on Earth, whether it’s from natural seasonal changes, climate change-exacerbated storms and disasters, or long-term changes that are caused by human activity such as clearing of wild habitats for crops, cattle, or logging. Experts and researchers can use this new project to understand how land cover changes naturally, and flag when some unexpected changes appear to be taking place. Users can go to Google’s Dynamic World website to peruse through the various datasets and see what the marked maps look like. For example, one map shows how the volume of water and greenery blooms and recedes in Botswana’s Okavango Delta from the rainy season to the dry season. The map model, which draws satellite imagery from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2, can update its data stream for global land cover monitoring every 2 to 5 days. In fact, around 12 terabytes of data comes from the Sentinel-2 satellite every day. From there, it goes into Google’s data centers and Google Earth Engine, a cloud platform built for organizing and relaying Earth observations and environmental analytics. The Earth Engine is connected to tens of thousands of computers that process the information and derive insights with computer models before it becomes available in the Earth Engine Data Catalog…”

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