Google Earth brings improved imaging to ocean viewing

Instead of blurred photos of the ocean floor, users can now see upgraded images with crisp details and topography.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
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Google Earth's detailed ocean landscape in Boundary Bay, Wash. Google

Google has started to bring a bit more clarity to underwater viewing in its Earth and Maps platforms. The Web giant rolled out a sneak preview over the weekend of improvements that armchair explorers of the briny deep can expect to find when investigating the world's oceans.

Not only is the resolution of the photos in Google Earth and Google Maps going to be far superior to imaging in the past but also more details about the seascape will be provided, such as ocean charts and depth. To get this data and information, Google has been working with NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center and the University of Colorado CIRES program.

"Within the Strait of Georgia, deep draft vessels transit to several large refinery facilities. It's our job to provide the mariner with the most accurate chart, with the most relevant features and depths available for their safe navigation," NOAA's Crescent Moegling said in a statement.

Google has been working steadily on bringing its Maps underwater. In 2009, it launched a detailed 3D view of the ocean as part of Google Earth 5, and the company has continued to tinker with various features, such as displaying 50,000 panoramic images of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and proposing underwater Street View for the ocean floor.

In this image near Bellingham, Wash., the new high resolution 16 meter image (right) is opposed to the lower 1 km image (left). Google