See the Natural Wonders with Google Earth
Whether you’re a teacher looking for a unique way to interest students in geography or a scientist researching endangered species in the Amazon, satellite technology and specialized software make it easy to get constantly updated images of the planet. Google Earth is one type of satellite software allowing anyone to witness the Earth’s natural wonders. Some intrepid adventurers have compiled Google Earth files of not just the natural world but also the medieval world, ancient world, and even the underwater world.
According to Google Earth and Maps director John Hanke, users now have the “opportunity to learn more about the natural wonders and manmade landmarks of the world with Featured Content.” This content is accessible to any user via the Google Earth sidebar. If you’re still debating the merits of downloading Google Earth software, it’s always worthwhile to have an idea what you’re missing.
More popularly known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is a large chunk of sandstone on the otherwise flat landscape of central Australia. With a 5.8 mile diameter and a height of 1142 feet, Uluru is far from being just a large rock. It is covered in springs, waterholes and caves. Likely due to its offering of shelter and way sunlight causes dramatic changes in appearance, many caves of Uluru feature ancient paintings by the aboriginal inhabitants.
Great Barrier Reef
Off the northeast cost of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef covers 133,000 square miles of ocean, including around 900 islands. The largest coral reef in the world puts some of humanity’s largest undertakings, such as China’s three Gorges Dam, into perspective. The reef is viewable from space, known as one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, and was created entirely by billions of tiny creatures called coral polyps.
A short distance from the Tanzanian coast is the largest mountain in Africa. At 19,340 feet, it is the world’s largest free-standing mountain. Technically an inactive volcano, Kilimanjaro has seven peaks and three volcanic cones, one of which holds a one and a half mile crater. It is considered part of Africa’s Rift Valley and provides clues to the Earth’s tectonic history. Scientists estimate molten magma continues to flow 1,310 feet below the largest crater. The height and nearness to the equator allow Mount Kilimanjaro to support an enormous variety of plants and animals in every type of climate.
Salar de Uyuni
On first glance, this 4,086 square miles will appear to be a desert of white sand. With the featured content of Google Earth you’ll learn looks can be deceiving. Salar de Uyuni in southwest Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat. Beneath the surface flows a sea of brine. Few plants and animals can survive the habitat, and those calling the salt flats home are remarkable. Giant cacti, Pilaya shrub, and the popular grain quinoa can be found alongside the Andean fox, a cousin of the chinchilla that looks like a rabbit, and around 80 species of bird. Three species of flamingo use the salt flats as breeding grounds each November.
Google Earth has made it possible for anyone to learn about the many wonders of the world. No matter how far you have traveled, there is always something new to explore. Whether for education or to plan the next vacation, content overlays created by developers and users make it easy to explore.
Brian Pearce writes for education blogs nationwide. Click here to read more about gis degree online.
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