Google Earth is a stand alone application that combines the power of Google Search with satellite imagery, maps, terrain and 3D buildings. The result is a sophisticated visual mapping tool which can be used to view geography and plot data. A powerful version of this tool is available for free download.
Reference Librarian, Deb Verhoff, and Jane Zhang, a Geo/Physical Sciences faculty member, recently attended a workshop at MIT titled Geographic Information made accessible: Google Earth and Web Mapping tools. MIT Librarians and GIS specialists demonstrated class projects created by mapping Google Earth layers.
Optional data layers available in the free version include:
- United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) – includes successive time-stamped images illustrating 100 areas of extreme environmental degradation around the world.
- Discovery Networks World Tour – enables you to take a virtual tour of major world landmarks, cities, and natural wonders through Google Earth.
- Jane Goodall Institute – you can visit Flirt and the other Gombe preserve chimpanzees and follow their daily exploits with the Institute’s “geo-blog” in Google Earth.
- National Geographic – this features articles, pictures, live webcams and more around the world from National Geographic.
- Tracks 4 Africa – Community generated map data across part of Africa along with photographs and interesting snippets about various places.
- Spotlight on Africa – Flags and snippets of information about the 53 sovereign nations of Africa
- Rumsey Historical Maps – Historical maps around the world spanning from year 1680 to 1892, including a Map of Africa from 1787.
- European Space Agency – More satellite imagery of beautiful places and phenomena around the world
Interested in learning more?
Professor Zhang currently teaches Geographic Information Systems class at Fitchburg State. Her students are using GIS to visualize and analyze spatial information.