A view of Google Earth's new ocean layer. This shot shows the the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii.
“Ocean in Google Earth” is a new way for online explorers – anyone, anywhere – to dive in to the ocean. With a basic layer that shows the depth of the sea floor, this extension of the popular online Earth exploration tool also displays information such as weather patterns, currents, temperatures, shipwrecks, coral reefs, and algal blooms.
NOAA contributed and will continue to contribute a variety of data and imagery to the project. Google explorers can pan through expeditions from the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, including a trip to the submerged wreck of the Titanic. Visitors can also learn about marine debris and view ocean current maps from the NOAA Marine Debris Program showing how marine debris moves around the ocean.
Other NOAA contributions include information on marine protected areas, including the 13 U.S. national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that are highlighted in detail via underwater video footage, high-resolution seabed maps, and photography. Data from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center and seabed maps of U.S. coastal waters are also part of the Ocean in Google Earth.
The tool carries a certain “wow factor,” as amateur oceanographers, marine enthusiasts, and anyone fascinated by mysteries of the deep can navigate through the digital environment by zooming and panning. Additionally, the project will allow researchers to collaborate and share information and will help everyone to better understand the many issues affecting our ocean.