Tracking deforestation in real time

At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, announced a cloud-based method for analyzing deforestation around the world, in a much more up-to-date manner than previously possible.

Google Deforestation Analysis

At the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference,, Google's philanthropic arm, announced a cloud-based method for analyzing deforestation around the world in a much more up-to-date manner than previously possible.

Using Google's terabytes of satellite imagery, it lets scientists look back over time at any location in the world and see how the forest has changed. Going beyond visual comparisons, it uses the power of cloud computing to do actual measurement of deforestation. Much more rapid analysis of the images than is possible on a single desktop computer pinpoints locations of most recent activity. This lets authorities locate illegal logging precisely and within days of the activity.

"With this technology, it's now possible for scientists to analyze raw satellite imagery data and extract meaningful information about the world's forests, such as locations and measurements of deforestation or even regeneration of a forest. In developing this prototype, we've collaborated with Greg Asner of Carnegie Institution for Science, and Carlos Souza of Imazon. Greg and Carlos are both at the cutting edge of forest science and have developed software that creates forest cover and deforestation maps from satellite imagery. Organizations across Latin America use Greg's program, Carnegie Landsat Analysis System (CLASlite), and Carlos' program, Sistema de Alerta de Deforestation (SAD), to analyze forest cover change. However, widespread use of this analysis has been hampered by lack of access to satellite imagery data and computational resources for processing."

For more information, check out's blog.

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About the author

    Adam Richardson is the director of product strategy at frog design, where he guides strategy engagements for frog's international roster of clients, envisioning and creating new products, consumer electronics, and digital experiences. Adam combines a background in industrial design, interaction design, and sociology, and spends most of his time on convergent designs that combine hardware, software, service, brand, and retail. He writes and speaks extensively on design, business, culture, and technology, and runs his own Richardsona blog.


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