Google has released what it is calling the world’s first detailed maps of global forest change, illustrating deforestation throughout the world over time.
The project is a collaboration with Dr. Matthew Hansen and his team at the University of Maryland.
You can go here to see maps ranging from 2000 to 2012, showing the forest landscape.
“The most significant findings were that the overall rate of tropical deforestation is increasing, and global forests have experienced a net loss of 1.5M sq km during 2000-2012 due to both natural (disturbance) and human causes,” write Google’s Rebecca Moore and Matt Hancher. “That’s a loss of forested land comparable in size to the entire state of Alaska.”
A related study has been published, which you can find here.
“Key to the study’s success was the collaboration between scientists at the University of Maryland, who developed the models to analyze Landsat satellite data, and computer scientists at Google, who then used Google Earth Engine technology to run these models on more than 650,000 Landsat images,” the Googlers say. “While the analysis would have taken a single computer more than 15 years to perform, it was completed in a matter of days using Google Earth Engine.”
Hansen and his colleague Peter Potapov discuss the project more on Google’s Research blog.