Google Earth computer program
Google offers a nifty earth-scene program GoogleEarth. Go to Google.com, on the menu at the top-left or wherever, select the drop-down list under “more”, then “even more”. In alphabetic order is “Earth”. This is a fairly large application, you download it and install it, that will then connect to Google for information about what part of the Earth you are looking at. It is fascinating to see moderately detailed images of your house, your city, the nation, or the world.
Earth comes in three flavors or prices. Google Earth is free – I have used it for several years, it is great. Google Earth Pro is $400, and I don’t know what that looks like. Then there is Google Earth Enterprise Solution – $Call $$Us. I think part of the difference is how fine a detail you get, and whether the images are a few years old (Google Earth free edition) or real time ($Call $$Us version).
I like the weather presentation at Wunderground.com (Weather Underground. Huh.) A few months ago they added a display option called “WunderMap”. It sure looks like Google Earth. It sticks current temps and radar activity (rain, snow, etc.) on top of satellite imagery of the ground. Really good satellite imagery.
This morning I wanted to check on the weather where a friend is working. While looking at the WunderMap, I zoomed out to see the whole nation, and noticed nothing much doing around North Dakota at the moment.
There has been so much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the storm on the East Coast I grabbed the image with the cursor, and dragged Washington, DC to the center of the image, and zoomed in slightly.
I noticed the Continental Shelf – the gradually deepening, rather flat extent of ocean floor near coast lines.
It looked gorgeous.
I zoomed out a bit. I had read a few months ago about the Gulf stream and how it flowed to the North Atlantic – and sank, to flow along the bottom of the ocean back to the Gulf of Mexico.
There is a seam along the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, guiding those warmed waters from Mexico up to warm and modify the weather for Ireland and the United Kingdom. And it is gorgeous, zoomed out to see most of the Atlantic Ocean from in one view.
Across the Pond
At the time of Columbus’ sailing, the general wisdom was for ships to stay nearly within sight of land, maybe several miles, depending on how tall the ship was for a lookout to keep track. Zoom in on the British Isles, and notice the broad and nearly flat (I am still admiring WunderMap at Wunderground.com) continental shelf – which moderates the power of the waves likely to be encountered by a ship. It is amazing to view, in colors representing height and depth (topological view of the ocean floor), the character and historical impact of the shape of the ocean floor.
Back on the US side of the Atlantic, I noticed a string of “pimples” off the shores of New England – volcanic cones. A fiction book some years ago posited a major earthquake in New England. There are fairly major fault lines there – and I can see the progression leading up from the depths of the ocean and across the continental shelf there.
I looked for Haiti (not that Haiti has been in the news, or earthquakes there). That is one folded and torn piece of ocean bottom. The ridge from Haiti to the south, and crevasse to the north across the ocean floor sure look to me to indicate lots of stress in the earth’s crust, cutting right across Haiti.
And it is interesting to see the wide range of depths around the Caribbean Sea. Amazing – no wonder wrecks got so very lost. Or that the waters were so troubled as to sink so many ships over the centuries.
The oceans, as seen through WunderMap and Google Earth. Amazing.
I glanced at the Indian ocean (South of India, between Africa and Australia is how I think of it). There was temperature and wind marker – at the top of a single volcano cone, on a fold of the ocean, in the middle of, well, ocean. Ile Amsterdam.
I zoomed in on the mountain – closer than they had imagery for all the surrounding water. Move the image to the center, zoom a little bit, repeat. There is a ring of trees just off the ocean on the east side of the island. With a road leading north. And a Land Rover-looking vehicle on the winding track, heading north. On the North side of the island is a group of buildings – La Roche Godon. Amazing. (67 degrees, wind to the southwest, from a station on the shore, to the west of La Roche Godon.)