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Scientists and Google to keep an eye on environment

Detailed satellite imagery about Australian landscapes will soon be only a button push away for land managers in community and non-profit sectors thanks to a partnership between Australian scientists and Google, announced this week.

According to CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Dr Alex Held, Director of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network's (TERN) AusCover facility, the partnership aims to provide greater access to and international reach of Australian science.

"CSIRO and TERN researchers will be able to use Google's enormous cloud computing power to contribute their expertise and environmental data to deliver easy to use maps and tools for millions of users world-wide," he said.

One of the tools to be made available in Google's Earth Engine will be a vegetation monitoring tool. It will enable land managers to see if vegetation is in a healthy condition or being impacted by things like pests, diseases, fire or feral animals.

"The health of our landscapes is vital to addressing key challenges such as food security, biodiversity conservation and agricultural productivity," said Dr Held.

"For land managers to manage landscapes effectively, they need to be able to monitor, measure and understand changes.

"For decades Australian researchers have been refining the use of satellites for observing the earth and have combined this with expert field data and environmental models to contribute to landscape management.

"Similar vegetation mapping tools and satellite data are already in use, for example by the Australian forestry industry, and now through this partnership with Google we can make them more widely available to non-profit and community groups world-wide.

"This really is about making people's jobs easier as they can access and process data in a matter of minutes to pinpoint potential issues and figure out the best action to take to investigate and respond without having to spend time and money wi

Contact: Claire Harris
CSIRO Australia

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