Earth Science Informatics

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 169–179 | Cite as

Google Earth and Google Fusion Tables in support of time-critical collaboration: Mapping the deepwater horizon oil spill with the AVIRIS airborne spectrometer

  • Eliza S. BradleyEmail author
  • Dar A. Roberts
  • Philip E. Dennison
  • Robert O. Green
  • Michael Eastwood
  • Sarah R. Lundeen
  • Ian B. McCubbin
  • Ira Leifer
Research Article


Web interfaces have made remote sensing image resources more accessible and interactive. However, many web-based and Digital Earth opportunities for remote sensing have not yet been fully explored and could greatly facilitate scientific collaboration. In many cases, these resources can augment traditional proprietary software packages, which can have limited flexibility, spatiotemporal controls, and data synthesis abilities. In this paper, we discuss how web services and Google Earth were used for time-critical geovisualizations of the NASA Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) Deepwater Horizon oil spill imaging campaign. In particular, we describe how (1) AVIRIS Google Earth products were used to visualize the spatial and temporal characteristics of the campaign’s image acquisitions, critically needed for flight planning, (2) the Google Fusion Table cloud-based service was applied to create a highly-interactive image archive and mapping display, and (3) the Google Fusion Table API was utilized to create a flexible PHP-based interface for metadata creation and as the basis for an interactive data catalog. Although there are other possible software and programming approaches to these activities, we highlight freely-accessible and flexible solutions and bring attention to the newly introduced Google Fusion Tables as a collaborative scientific platform.


Remote sensing image database Airborne imaging spectrometry Google Earth Google Fusion Tables AVIRIS Deepwater horizon oil spill 



Special thanks to the JPL AVIRIS team, the ER-2 and Twin Otter pilots and support personnel, the USGS Denver Spectroscopy Lab for flight planning input and analysis (Roger Clark, Raymond Kokaly, Gregg Swayze, K. Eric Livo, and Todd Hoefen), Diane Wickland and Michael Goodman for their leadership roles in campaign support and coordination, and Seth Peterson for GFT imagery classifications. We also greatly appreciate Google’s development and support for the Google Earth and Google Fusion Tables applications.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eliza S. Bradley
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dar A. Roberts
    • 1
  • Philip E. Dennison
    • 2
  • Robert O. Green
    • 3
  • Michael Eastwood
    • 3
  • Sarah R. Lundeen
    • 3
  • Ian B. McCubbin
    • 4
  • Ira Leifer
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Center for Natural and Technological HazardsUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA
  4. 4.Desert Research InstituteStorm Peak LaboratorySteamboat SpringsUSA
  5. 5.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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