NOAA & Google team up on data visualizations


NOAA’s Carbon Tracker (From NOAA: “Warm colors show high atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and cool colors show low concentrations. As the summer growing season takes hold, photosynthesis by forests and crops draws concentrations CO2 down, opposing the general increase from fossil fuel burning. The resulting high- and low-CO2 air masses are then moved around by weather systems to form the patterns shown here.”)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. NOAA thinks Google’s pictures can help NOAA make billions of data bits easier to visualize.

Here’s the first part of the release from NOAA:

“NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and Google have signed a cooperative research and development agreement outlining how they will work together to create state-of-the-art visualizations of scientific data to illustrate how our planet works.

“It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Here, we think NOAA’s billions of bits of data are worth thousands of pictures,” said Richard W. Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA assistant administrator for oceanic and atmospheric research. “Through this agreement, Google’s technical expertise will help to improve access to NOAA data in ways that allow the scientific community and the public to better use our information to understand earth science and make informed decisions.”

Under the agreement, NOAA and Google plan to work together on research and development to join NOAA’s oceanographic, meteorological, biological, and climatological data with Google’s software capabilities. The wide availability of Google’s Internet tools has the potential to bring visualizations of NOAA data to new audiences around the world.”

The project lists six general areas NOAA plans to use Google to help create better data visualizations. They are:

•Engaging the public in ongoing and historic scientific expeditions including those of the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer;

•Compiling and improving bathymetric datasets to display in Google Earth and make available for downloading;

•Expanding NOAA efforts to publish oceanographic data, especially data from the NOAA-led Integrated Ocean Observing System;

•Expanding NOAA efforts to publish climate data, especially data from the greenhouse gas monitoring system;

•Increasing the amount of data available for NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, an educational Earth science display system, [] by adapting it to display files in the Keyhole Markup Language, the file format Google Earth and Google Maps use for geographic data; and

•Providing interactive access to marine zoning and regulatory information concerning regions such as continental shelf boundaries and marine protected areas.

The release does not specify the duration or financial details of the agreement. It will be interesting to see what comes from the project, and how it shows up on our laptops, smart phones and now…iPads.


Comments are closed.