Why You Can’t See The Great Pacific Garbage Patch On Google Earth

From Google Ocean product manager Steve Miller, via Search Engine Land:

Regarding the availability of satellite imagery of the oceans: Unfortunately we haven’t found great sources of data for most of the open ocean because most imagery providers focus their efforts on the land. Where we do have satellite imagery for the ocean surface, we’ve preserved it in the most recent version of Google Earth and the satellite view in Maps. For example you can still see trawling vessels in southeast Asia. There are a number of potential applications for such imagery, from amateur interest in finding ships to looking at off-shore oil platforms to locating illegal fishing vessels, so it’s certainly worth exploring how we could track down data for the rest of the ocean.

Regarding the gyre: the trash gyre presents its own set of challenges. Even if we had satellite imagery, the gyre likely wouldn’t appear in it. Most of the plastic is particulate and/or a bit under the surface so you can’t see it in the imagery. A number of groups are starting to focus on collecting more data about the gyre via expeditions and sampling – we’d love to see one or more of them produce maps that could be viewed in Google Earth.

There are also links to Wikipedia and a TED conference video by Captain Charles Moore.


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