Application of Google Earth in remote sensing for environmental research

In order to get information in the distant past, the physical presence of human beings was required much more than it has been in the present age. Why? Because of the obvious lack of advanced technology back in the times of the distant past.

Nowadays, physical presence, and the rigors associated with providing it is not always required in any quest to acquire information; thanks to remote sensing technologies such as satellites and Google Earth which are very important tools in the present age when information seems to be much more important, and vaster than at any other time in recorded history.

Satellites and Google Earth are now at the forefront, and will likely continue to be there; they will continue to be used in detecting and acquiring information from remote places.

Remote sensing devices

Remote sensing devices are instruments that sense and acquire information about environments from remote positions that don’t necessarily require the physical presence of humans.

The use of satellites and Google Earth as remote sensing tools/devices is now very popular because of their wide range of applications which have been employed by people who know how to use them in monitoring different types of environments.

In the recent past, probably 10 or more years ago, Google Earth software has helped an uncountable number of people fly virtually over anywhere on Earth, and view brilliant high-resolution images and maps of specific areas.

Any interested individual who has Google Earth software and an internet connection, can zoom the screen of their devices (e.g., laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) and see multi-dimensional views of cities, buildings, vegetation, oceans, and other important features on the surface of the Earth.

What is Google Earth?          

Google Earth is a computer program that can help anybody view the Earth’s surface from remote positions and different altitudes.

Present-day satellites have highly advanced cameras with microwave sensors that pass through clouds, and infrared sensors that measure temperatures at different heights above the Earth’s surface—and in different locations around the world.

Application of satellites & Google Earth in monitoring environmental issues

Environmental groups and scientists use satellite and Google Earth technologies to acquire information useful to people in Amazonia (areas in the Amazon Jungle); acquired information helps in making good decisions that could help protect land much better from activities such as illegal mining and felling of trees.

Remote sensing tools (satellites and Google Earth) have other applications in environmental protection: they can be used to monitor oil spills, illegal fishing, air pollution from various sources, melting of sea ice, and variations in the concentration of ozone around specific parts of the world.

Many scientists, people, and even governments use Google Earth for various purposes such as studying the negative impact of urbanization on the environment, and the growth of plant species and diseases that affect people—amongst other purposes.

Google Earth was used to discover a forest that was unknown to the world before

In 2008, British scientists used the technology behind Google Earth to find a remote mountain forest that was unknown to the world, but always located in Mozambique, Africa.

The scientists who later visited this remote area, which is difficult to access, discovered hundreds of new insects (which included 3 new butterfly species), plants, and animals that were unknown to the world before.

Mark Mulligan (London’s King’s College) who is an expert in using remote sensing, used satellite technology to help people get a close look at all the Earth’s seventy-seven thousand protected areas.

David Tryse, an ordinary citizen, developed a computer program/software that enables anyone to surf the world virtually, track where deforestation is occurring, and see/study endangered species and biodiversity.


Google Earth and satellites can help ordinary citizens around the world in their quest to carry out environmental investigations/inquiries, improve environmental quality, and prevent environmental degradation in places where people live.

Thanks to science and the handful of individuals who have made it possible for any interested person to hover around the Earth virtually, zoom for themself and see how certain types of natural capital are being used or misused.


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