Jeff Smith 4 p.m., Dec. 20
Scripps Helps Google Earth Update Ocean Mapping
Tech giant Google announced a major upgrade in ocean data on its Google Earth mapping program yesterday.
For the last three years, UC San Diego undergraduates working at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been working to correct errors in sea floor mapping data and adding information from the National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.
“The original version of Google Ocean was a newly developed prototype map that had high resolution but also contained thousands of blunders related to the original archived ship data,” explained David Sandwell, a geophysicist at Scripps. “The Google map now matches the map used in the research community, which makes the Google Earth program much more useful as a tool for planning cruises to uncharted areas.”
15% of Google Earth’s oceanic images are now derived from shipboard soundings, a 50% increase over the previous version. This method of charting the sea floor is considered more accurate than the alternative, measuring via satellite. Information from 287 Scripps research expeditions over the last three decades is included.
One group is at least a bit disappointed with the new findings, however. In 2009, scientists believed the software had uncovered evidence of the lost city of Atlantis, a theory later debunked by Google. The updated mapping has all but removed traces of what was briefly considered as a possible location for the mythical community off the coast of Greece.
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