Google Earth is one of the most useful aerial image collection and management tools on the web for multiple platforms. It contains historical images, multiple overlays and tools to create your own layers. However, the images vary in resolution and occurrence based on location so caution must be used when both viewing and using the images but there tools included to check both. The basic version is free. The Pro level costs $399 when used for commercial uses but is free to public service organizations.
Skytruth has used Google Earth to create many of the Blog/Alert images on its web site. It has a free copy of Google Earth Pro that has also been used to import GIS data and create overlay layers. The Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Boom in Wetzel County, West Virginia is a simple example of Skytruth using Google Earth with the layer creation tool to illustrate an issue in it's blog. A second more complex application that includes comparisons on different images is Growing Coal Mines in the Powder River Basin. A more complicated example is A Fragmented Divide? Simulating Gas Development in the Thompson Divide that uses data from other sources to build a layer to overlay on Google Earth images. There is a user run Blog that illustrates how users have created applications built on Google Earth images. They include data display, time lapse, video, and animation. The month to month summary of some of the great things that appeared in the Blog is good intro into the kinds of things you can do with the images. The extensive Tutorials are also very useful.
With this kind of help, you can also research things going on in your area. You may even want to create your own blogs or create your own images to post online or send to SkyTruth to post on our blog. Use your imagination and how knows what we can accomplish in spreading the truth about the environmental damage that is being done to our country and our planet.
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