Earth Engine API

Initial Publication Date: June 15, 2020

Google Earth Engine Application Programming Interface (API) is a cloud-based geospatial processing platform that brings large-scale cloud computing functionality to the public. This advanced geospatial processing platform allows users to process various remotely-sensed images as well as vector datasets. This capability allows users to research societally-important issues such as drought, deforestation, natural disasters, disease, food security, water resources, climate monitoring, environmental monitoring, and many others.

An open access publication by Noel Gorelick et al. (2017) discusses the Earth Engine Platform in detail, as well as the datasets and resources that are available to users.

An Earth Engine Explorer is available to the public for opening and viewing datasets that are available for free, however, it has no processing capability. The Engine Code Editor on the other hand, gives the user capability to run existing programs for processing geospatial data, customize these programs, or to write their own scripts.

To access Earth Engine code editor, one must have a google account and fill a form to get approval for use. This form is straight forward and includes institutional affiliation, purpose for using Earth Engine, etc. Earth Engine is free to non-commercial educational, research, and nonprofit use.

Various remote sensing datasets are available in Earth Engine, including imagery, elevation data, classifications, atmospheric data, and even demographic data. Vector datasets are also accessible.

Earth Engine Explorer user interface.

Earth Engine code user interface.

Examples of Applications Developed with the Earth Engine API

Various case studies are available on the Earth Engine website, such as mapping habitat for endangered species, mapping risk of malaria, monitoring deforestation, and mapping surface water.

Earth Engine, together with Google Earth and Bing Maps, is also used in a user-friendly data collection tools - Collect Earth to monitor agricultural areas, map land cover change, collect socio-economic data, and quantify deforestation.

Addtional Information from Google

A user guide to Earth Engine contains information about getting started, using the code editor, and many others. API tutorials are also available and include videos and self-paced tutorials. The basics of JavaScript are included in a separate tutorial. Some libraries are written in Python, and installing the necessary client library is described here.

References for coding are available from the Earth Engine developers page. A log of changes to the application as well as known issues are also documented.

Additional questions are addressed on a FAQ page.

Resources for educators are available from Earth Engine, as well as training workshops.

Other Sources of Information