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News Article
Site: http://www.treehugger.com/feeds/category/technology/

In honor of this week's COP21 climate conference in Paris, Google has unveiled Street View images of the places and living things that are depending on action from world leaders. A variety of conservation organizations took Google's Street View Trekker camera technology and captured images that tell the story of what's at stake. You can virtually visit polar bears thanks to Polar Bears International who mapped the bears and their fragile sea ice habitat near Churchill, Manitoba for all to view and created lesson plans and activities for educators to bring this information into classrooms. The Nature Conservancy - California took the cameras to capture the plants in California that are vulnerable to climate change. The group has been using the technology to monitor the health of the state's blue oaks, which are predicted to decline by 41% by 2100. They'll check in again in the future to keep monitoring these trees to document them and hopefully come up with strategies for protecting them. The Amazonas Sustainable Foundation used the Trekker to allow people to view the Brazilian Amazon from the forest floor, capturing images of hundreds of kilometers walking through the forest and floating on the river and its tributaries. The group also mapped the local isolated communities whose livelihoods are being impacted by the loss of forest. The group hopes that the images will inspire people to protect the forest that not only supports a wide ecosystem but also is essential to the health of our environment as it acts like a giant carbon sink and protects our atmosphere. If you've ever wanted to see what it would be like to be dropped into the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, you can explore below. This isn't the first time Google has drawn attention to environmental issues with it's mapping technology. During previous COP climate conferences, the company has released images like these that show the consequences of damming rivers around the world and Google Earth layers that model how the world will look with rising seas and a warming climate.


News Article
Site: http://news.yahoo.com/green/

As world leaders gathered in Paris on Monday in the hope to stopping catastrophic climate change, Google Maps provided online views of remote locations where wildlife is struggling for survival. A "Street View" feature at the free online map service has grown from simply showing scenes outside of business or residential addresses to allowing arm chair adventurers to virtually explore mountains, rain forests, ocean depths and more. Some settings find creatures in dire straits, such as polar bear in the Canadian Arctic appearing to desperately wait for bay ice that doesn't form because temperatures are too warm. "From polar bears in the Canadian Arctic, to communities in the Brazilian Amazon, to blue oak trees in Central California, the impacts of climate change are being felt by plants, animals and people across the planet," said Google Earth outreach program manager Karin Tuxen-Bettman. "With Street View, you can get a window into some of our world's changing ecosystems, and learn how nonprofit and other organizations are working to keep our planet healthy." Polar Bears International (PBI) borrowed Street View Trekker 360-degree camera and location-pinpointing gear to enhance maps with scenes of polar bears in Manitoba as the sea ice on which they depend vanishes. PBI incorporated the Street View scenes into its website and a lesson plan for schools to help children learn about the habitat. Brazilian nonprofit Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) used Trekker Gear to capture scenes in the Amazon forest and put isolated local communities on the map. FAS captured imagery from three reserves in the Amazon and uses it for education about rain forest protection and sustainable ecosystem management, according to Google. The initiatives aims to make climate change more real for people and inspire them to act by allowing them to virtually explore remote areas, and see beauty lost or under threat due to climate change. Street View imagery also allows for comparisons over time to show how environments are changing along with the climate. "Street View is great for visualizing the impacts of climate change, but we're also using our Street View platform to measure climate data, which can be used by scientists, policymakers, businesses and citizens to drive better decisions," Tuxen-Bettman said. Google Earth has worked for several years with the Environmental Defense Fund to map methane leaks from natural gas lines under an array of US cities by equipping Street View cars with special gear, according to Tuxen-Bettman. Street View cars will begin measuring more pollutants, such as climate change culprit carbon dioxide, in an alliance with environmental sensor network specialty firm Aclima, according to California-based Google. "Essentially, we're turning Street View cars into environmental sensing platforms," Tuxen-Bettman said, noting that they will first be put to work in California communities.


News Article | November 30, 2015
Site: http://www.techtimes.com/rss/sections/environment.xml

Google is shedding some light on the effects climate change is having on the environment by allowing the public to see the impact for themselves using Street View. The company is highlighting three changing ecosystems to explore as world leaders gather as the COP21 conference in Paris to discuss climate change kicks off this week. Polar Bears International, the world's leading polar bear conservation organization, used the Street View Trekker camera (which is used to map areas that are inaccessible by car) to map the animals in their natural habitat around Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The organization has also developed a lesson plan for schools so that students can learn more about the changing area that is home to the polar bear, while we all can see how much global warming is affecting the area as a polar bear can be seen waiting for ice to freeze. We can also see how plants are affected by climate change by using Street View to explore the threatened blue oak trees in Central California. The trees have been in decline because of changing temperatures, so scientists at the Nature Conservancy-California used Google Street View to capture the blue oaks to keep a digital record to continue to log their changes and come up with conservation strategies. Google's Trekker camera was also used by the Brazilian nonprofit Amazonas Sustainable Foundation to educate the public about rain forest protection. The nonprofit mapped isolated parts of the Amazon forest and river tributaries to show the public what this area looks like now so they can visually see how important it is to protect the ecosystem. Google said in a blog post that it is using its Street View platform to measure climate date so that policymakers will be able to make better decisions. As part of Google Earth Outreach project, Street View cars equipped with methane analyzers have mapped methane leaks from natural gas lines in U.S. cities. PSE&G announced it will use Street View mapping data to upgrade leaky gas lines as part of its new multimillion-dollar pipeline replacement program. Google plans to use Street View cars to create an environmental sensing platform in 2016 by measuring pollutants like carbon dioxide in California communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, Central Valley and Los Angeles. The 2015 Paris Climate Conference in Paris, the biggest U.N. climate conference of the decade, kicked off on Monday and will conclude on Dec. 11.


News Article
Site: http://phys.org/technology-news/

A "Street View" feature at the free online map service has grown from simply showing scenes outside of business or residential addresses to allowing arm chair adventurers to virtually explore mountains, rain forests, ocean depths and more. Some settings find creatures in dire straits, such as polar bear in the Canadian Arctic appearing to desperately wait for bay ice that doesn't form because temperatures are too warm. "From polar bears in the Canadian Arctic, to communities in the Brazilian Amazon, to blue oak trees in Central California, the impacts of climate change are being felt by plants, animals and people across the planet," said Google Earth outreach program manager Karin Tuxen-Bettman. "With Street View, you can get a window into some of our world's changing ecosystems, and learn how nonprofit and other organizations are working to keep our planet healthy." Polar Bears International (PBI) borrowed Street View Trekker 360-degree camera and location-pinpointing gear to enhance maps with scenes of polar bears in Manitoba as the sea ice on which they depend vanishes. PBI incorporated the Street View scenes into its website and a lesson plan for schools to help children learn about the habitat. Brazilian nonprofit Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) used Trekker Gear to capture scenes in the Amazon forest and put isolated local communities on the map. FAS captured imagery from three reserves in the Amazon and uses it for education about rain forest protection and sustainable ecosystem management, according to Google. The initiatives aims to make climate change more real for people and inspire them to act by allowing them to virtually explore remote areas, and see beauty lost or under threat due to climate change. Street View imagery also allows for comparisons over time to show how environments are changing along with the climate. "Street View is great for visualizing the impacts of climate change, but we're also using our Street View platform to measure climate data, which can be used by scientists, policymakers, businesses and citizens to drive better decisions," Tuxen-Bettman said. Google Earth has worked for several years with the Environmental Defense Fund to map methane leaks from natural gas lines under an array of US cities by equipping Street View cars with special gear, according to Tuxen-Bettman. Street View cars will begin measuring more pollutants, such as climate change culprit carbon dioxide, in an alliance with environmental sensor network specialty firm Aclima, according to California-based Google. "Essentially, we're turning Street View cars into environmental sensing platforms," Tuxen-Bettman said, noting that they will first be put to work in California communities.


Rode K.D.,U.S. Geological Survey | Robbins C.T.,Washington State University | Nelson L.,Washington State University | Amstrup S.C.,Polar Bears International
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment | Year: 2015

Increased land use by polar bears (Ursus maritimus) due to climate-change-induced reduction of their sea-ice habitat illustrates the impact of climate change on species distributions and the difficulty of conserving a large, highly specialized carnivore in the face of this global threat. Some authors have suggested that terrestrial food consumption by polar bears will help them withstand sea-ice loss as they are forced to spend increasing amounts of time on land. Here, we evaluate the nutritional needs of polar bears as well as the physiological and environmental constraints that shape their use of terrestrial ecosystems. Only small numbers of polar bears have been documented consuming terrestrial foods even in modest quantities. Over much of the polar bear's range, limited terrestrial food availability supports only low densities of much smaller, resident brown bears (Ursus arctos), which use low-quality resources more efficiently and may compete with polar bears in these areas. Where consumption of terrestrial foods has been documented, polar bear body condition and survival rates have declined even as land use has increased. Thus far, observed consumption of terrestrial food by polar bears has been insufficient to offset lost ice-based hunting opportunities but can have ecological consequences for other species. Warming-induced loss of sea ice remains the primary threat faced by polar bears. © The Ecological Society of America. Source

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