Oregon State University

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

Distinguished Visiting Lecture: Rebecca Moore

Earth’s vital signs: Planetary-scale environmental monitoring with Google Earth Engine

Global Fishing Watch - Valmitao timelapse
Global Fishing Watch - Valmitao timelapse

May 22, 2018, 7-8:00 p.m.

The LaSells Stewart Center
Construction & Engineering Hall

Parking information

Reception from 6-7:00 p.m.


Satellites have been systematically collecting imagery and scientific measurements of our changing planet for more than 40 years, yet until recently this treasure trove of “big data” has not been online and readily available for high-performance data mining. The Google Earth Engine platform (earthengine.google.com) was developed to facilitate “turning pixels to knowledge” at global scale for societal benefit. Earth Engine hosts online a multi-petapixel public data catalog, updating daily, together with tools that support massively-parallel geospatial analysis on datasets such as satellite and aerial imagery, weather and climate. For example, Earth Engine makes freely available online the complete Landsat satellite data archive of more than 6 million images (1973-2018), with full scientific precision (all spectral bands) in an analysis-ready format in the Google cloud.

The co-location of big earth observation data with many thousands of CPUs for processing has created new possibilities for understanding our changing planet. A simple example is the 32-year Landsat-derived timelapse visualization of the entire Earth from 1984-2016 (earthengine.google.com/timelapse). More importantly, scientists and practitioners are now developing new Earth Engine-powered applications which map, measure and monitor global environmental changes in unprecedented detail and near-real time, including global forest change (Science, 2013 & globalforestwatch.org); three decades of global surface water change (Nature, 2016); the global footprint of fisheries (Science, 2018 & globalfishingwatch.org); and global biodiversity mapping (mol.org). Researchers have also developed predictive algorithms which can estimate crop yields to enhance food security (RSE, 2015); as well as operational applications in the field of precision epidemiology which provide high-resolution early warning of potential disease outbreaks such as malaria (www.disarm.io). These methodologies can also map out solutions, such as the global study of critical tiger habitat (Sci Adv 2016) which identified still-intact forests whose conservation could lead to doubling of endangered tiger populations worldwide by 2022.

As initiator and leader of Google Earth Engine, Rebecca Moore will describe the experiences of her team in working with researchers and institutions at the cutting edge of this field, including those at OSU, who are applying big data and machine learning at scale to derive new knowledge, and guide better decision-making, about these vital signs of our planet.


Registration for the Google Earth Engine Workshop at The LaSells Stewart Center on May 23-24 is currently closed due full attendance. Please contact Jamon Van Den Hoek vandenhj@oregonstate.edu for more information.


Rebecca Moore
Rebecca Moore

Rebecca Moore is Director of Google Earth, Earth Engine and Earth Outreach. In April 2017, her team launched the “new” Google Earth, reinvented for the web for the first time. She initiated and leads the development of Google Earth Engine, a cloud technology platform that puts an unprecedented amount of satellite data online and enables scientists to conduct global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment. In 2017, Earth Engine won the ASPRS Outstanding Technical Achievement award. Rebecca also conceived and leads the Google Earth Outreach program, which supports nonprofits, educators and indigenous communities in applying Google's mapping tools to the world's most pressing problems in environmental conservation, human rights and cultural preservation.

Rebecca’s personal work using Google Earth was instrumental in stopping the logging of more than a thousand acres of redwoods in her Santa Cruz Mountain community. She received a bachelor’s degree in artificial intelligence with honors from Brown University and a master’s degree from Stanford University. In 2013, Rebecca was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for Open Science. In 2016, she was honored with the Rachel Carson Award from the National Audubon Society.


Sponsored by the Oregon State University College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences


See more feature stories