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Historical imagery captured on the same day

lun 10-08-2015

We have recently spent quite a lot of time looking through historical imagery and reported some of the most interesting finds from recent imagery, including:

However, one thing we noticed and found quite frustrating is that if two or more images are captured on the same day of the same area, Google Earth displays them on top of each other and it is impossible to see the ones that are ‘behind’.

In October 2014, Bermuda was hit by hurricane Gonzalo. Google Earth has four images captured on the same day, October 19th, 2014, soon after the hurricane hit. However, the uppermost image is in black and white and there is no way to see the three colour images apart from where they are not overlapped by the ones above them, which for the most part is over the sea. There are two more images on the 20th which also overlap each other, but that is less of a concern as they are of similar quality. We could not identify any evidence of storm damage in any of the images

The four overlapping images of the aftermath of hurricane Gonzalo.

In May, 2014, there was a large wildfire near Lake McClure in California, USA. Google Earth has some imagery of the region captured soon after the fire including, three images all captured on May 31st, 2014. Two of the images are black and white and one is in false colour. False colour imagery is particularly useful for identifying vegetation differences and would probably have been quite helpful in identifying the extent of the fire. Sadly, the false colour image is mostly covered by the two black and white images.

Overlapping images captured soon after the Hunters Fire.

There is also a black and white image from May 30th, and two overlapping images, one black and white and one false colour from June 1st. We think we have identified the extent of the fire by comparing more recent imagery with imagery from before the fire, as well as a bluish patch in the false colour image.

In February 2015, Australia was hit by tropical cyclone Marcia, causing flooding in many places. The Northern Territory towns of Galiwinku and Ramingining have imagery captured soon after the cyclone and again there are overlaps. However, in this case it is not so serious as the quality of the overlapped imagery is similar to the images we can see. The images are not very high resolution, but we can see clear signs of storm damage in both locations.

Ramingining, Australia. You can see trees flattened and on the roofs of houses and some water still on the ground in some places.

The reason why there is a problem with overlapping imagery is because Google dates their imagery to the nearest day. Although the Google Earth timeline is capable of distinguishing dates and times down to a minute, because the images’ date stamps are identical, Google Earth must show both at the same time. The solution would be for Google to add different times to any overlapping images that occur on the same day. It is likely that the actual time the images were captured is known by Google, but if not, a dummy time such as a few minutes after midnight could be used.

To find the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth use this KML file.

The post Historical imagery captured on the same day appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

2015 Brazil floods in Google Earth

ven 07-08-2015

Earlier this week we looked a flood damage in Georgia and Texas. Thank you to GEB reader for pointing us to imagery of flooding in Magdeburg, Germany in 2013. Find it in Google Earth with this KML file .

We have been aware for some time that there was major flooding in Brazil earlier this year, but have not until recently been able to find relevant imagery. We felt the need to include the year in our post title as a quick internet search revealed the fact that Brazil appears to have had severe floods nearly every year in recent history.

A small settlement near the town of Benjamin Constant, Brazil. Although it is certainly flooded, closer inspection reveals that there are raised walkways between the houses and high water levels are probably common. It is hard to tell from the satellite imagery whether the flooding was severe enough to have caused damage.

Coari, Brazil. Yet again, clearly flooded, but walkways exist in the flooded streets that can be seen in older imagery, suggesting flooding is common and prepared for.

Despite the flooding affecting a very large area (over 2000 km of river) we were only able to find a few relevant recent satellite images. However, we did discover the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” and they have a number of recent satellite images of the area and before and after comparisons of the imagery – usually using Google Earth imagery for the “before” image.

To put them in context we have created a set of Placemarks for Google Earth with links to the relevant “before and after” comparisons. Download this KML file to view them in Google Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

From Excel to KML via XML export

jeu 06-08-2015

There are a number of different ways to get data from Microsoft Excel into Google Earth. There are various web-based tools to do the job, such as the one we mentioned in this post. Another way is to do the conversion entirely in Excel as demonstrated by GEB reader “Will from the UK” in this post.

Today we are looking at the technique we used for this post where we wanted to export a set of polygons that we had previously imported into Excel from a KML. Importing from KML is as easy as renaming the file from .kml to .xml and then using Excel’s built in import features.

We used Excel 2013, but the process should be similar in most recent versions of Excel. The first step is to enable the ‘Developer’ tab as described here. Next, make sure your data is arranged in the columns ‘name’, ‘description’, ‘styleUrl’ and ‘coordinates’. Open the ‘XML Source’ task pane by clicking on the ‘Source’ button found on the ‘Developer’ toolbar. Next, click the ‘XML Maps’ button. If you had previously imported data from KML, you may already have an XML Map listed. If so, delete it. Now download this file and add it as an XML Map. Excel will use it to create a schema. Close any dialog boxes and you should now have something like this:

Drag and drop the column names from the ‘XML Source’ pane to the appropriate column headers. It should now look something like this:

Click the ‘Export’ button found on the ‘Developer’ toolbar. Choose a file name and export the data. Edit the resulting file using any text editor. Replace all the text above the first <Placemark> tag with this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<kml xmlns="" xmlns:gx="" xmlns:kml="" xmlns:atom="">

Then scroll to the bottom and replace the </data-set> tag with this:


Save the file and rename it from .xml to .kml. You should now be able to open it in Google Earth. Finally, you may wish to add in some style information to your KML, which you can either do by editing the KML file, or from within Google Earth.

The above procedure was specifically designed for polygons. For other types of KML objects, modify the XML Map file to match the types of objects you wish to export.

Although Excel readily imports KMLs with Placemarks arranged into folders, we were not able to get it to export folders. All attempts to do so resulted in an error stating that the XML map contained ‘denormalized data’.

We worked out how to do the above export with help from here.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs

mer 05-08-2015

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that took place on August 6th and 9th, 1945 respectively.

The Nagasaki Archive that we have referred you to in the past still works but relies on the Google Earth plugin, so you may have difficulty accessing it. You can, however, access the individual KML files here and load them directly in Google Earth without the plugin. For some files there are both Japanese and English versions. Possibly the most interesting file is this one, which has a number of photos correctly positioned.

The Nagasaki Archive files can be opened directly in Google Earth if you do not have a browser that is compatible with the Google Earth plugin.

There is a similar Hiroshima Archive that used to be based on the Google Earth plugin but now uses Cesium.

We tried to find other KML files related to the bombing in order to explore the sites in Google Earth but were not very successful. Google Earth Hacks features a few related files but they are not very detailed and one of them links to photos that are no longer available. The best is this one that has a number of relevant locations in Hiroshima and a working overlay showing the damage to Hiroshima castle.

One of the key sites, which is close to Hiroshima Ground Zero, is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, which has had Street View since 2011.

We looked for old photos and found large collections at and

There are also some panoramas on 360Cites, but no obvious way to view them in Google Earth. The panoramas are here: 1 2 3 4. The photos come from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Flood damage in Google Earth

mar 04-08-2015

We have looked at flooding a number of times in the past, including satellite and aerial imagery of flooding and its aftermath, crisis response maps, simulated sea level rise and most recently a data error resulting in a city appearing to be flooded.

Google has not released any ‘imagery updates’ maps since the release of the ‘Voyager’ layers at the end of June, so it is not easy to find new imagery. However, we have come across two sets of imagery related to flooding that we thought worth sharing.

The first one is an image of a zoo in Tbilisi, Georgia. When we first saw the story in the news of a number of zoo animals escaping during a flood, we found the location in Google Earth and saved a Placemark. Since then, we have been checking back regularly to see if it gets updated – and it has.

Tbilisi Zoo, Georgia, captured on June 18th, 2015, about 4 days after the flooding.

There are also several YouTube videos of wild animals roaming the city, including a tiger, a bear, a hippo and either a crocodile or alligator. Sadly, many animals were killed by the flood and some of the survivors had to be shot.

The second set of imagery is of Austin and Houston, Texas, captured between May 27th and June 1st, 2015. Austin, Houston and surrounding areas experienced heavy flooding a few days before the imagery was captured. However, the earlier imagery is too cloudy to see much and the flooding appears to have mostly dispersed by the later imagery. However, there is evidence of flood damage especially along the Blanco River southwest of Austin.

Fischer Store Road Bridge as pictured in this article

There is another bridge washed away further downstream and a number of houses have been damaged or washed away.

On Lake Travis, north of Austin, there are floating houses that are obviously designed to be able to move to some extent depending on water levels. However, some houses have been washed downstream due to the flooding.

Those purple roofed houses in midstream come from a location further upstream. See the KML file at the end of this post for the exact location.

We were unable to find any obvious signs of flood damage in Houston, Texas. If you find any please let us know in the comments.

Here is some drone footage of the Austin flood on YouTube.

For locations mentioned in this post download this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Historical imagery and zoom

lun 03-08-2015

Last week we looked at animating historical imagery by using Google Earth Tours. While looking around in historical imagery we discovered an interesting effect: the historical imagery is not correctly synced to the timeline when Google Earth is zoomed out.

Last year we had a look at a number of situations in which Google Earth shows different imagery depending on the zoom level. The effect we are looking at today is similar in that the zoom level has an effect on what you see, but we think today’s effect is more of a bug or error, whereas the effects we have looked at in the past actually enhance Google Earth, as they provide access to extra imagery.

To see for yourself what we are talking about, load this KML file in Google Earth. It should switch to historical imagery, change the date to November 1st, 2002 and centre the view over Europe. Zoom out as far as you can and then slowly zoom in. As you zoom in you should notice patches of images appearing in several stages.

The same place at slightly different zoom levels without adjusting the time slider.

If you look carefully at the two screen shots above, there are more patches of imagery in the right hand image even though the only change made was to zoom in a little. Interestingly, if you zoom out until those patches disappear, then move the time slider forward a bit to 2003, the missing patches do appear.

As far as we can tell, the zoomed in imagery more accurately reflects the correct timeline, i.e., all images shown when zoomed in are dated on or before the date shown on the timeline.

We also found some cases of imagery that were not correctly synced to the time-slider at any zoom level. For example, there is a patch of aerial imagery in France dated January 1st 2002 that doesn’t show until the time-slider reaches December 2002. Being aerial imagery the date is only approximate and probably only means the imagery was captured some time during 2002, so it is possible the imagery is stored in the database with a date range and Google Earth only shows it when the upper bound is reached. Find the imagery we are talking about with this KML file .

Overall, we don’t think it is a major problem, but do keep in mind when searching for imagery of specific dates that you should zoom in as far as possible for greater accuracy and double check the actual dates of imagery rather than relying solely on the timeline.

The post Historical imagery and zoom appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The best of Google Earth for July 2015

ven 31-07-2015

Google has continued to roll out 3D imagery, with over 50 new or updated areas so far in July. In addition, we saw indications that Google is interested in getting 3D imagery for Indian cities.

Picturesque Lübeck, Germany, one of over 50 new areas of 3D this month.

We have seen quite a lot of satellite and aerial imagery added this month, but Google has not updated any of its ‘imagery update’ maps, nor the new ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer in Google Earth. We had a look at some interesting finds in the new imagery and thank you to GEB readers for pointing out some further locations in the comments of that post.

On the 29th of June, in celebration of Google Earth’s 10th anniversary, Google added some new layers to Google Earth under the heading ‘Voyager’. This month we did a series of posts looking at these new layers. We also suggested adding a layer marking interesting sights to be found in Google Earth imagery.

We showed you how to animate historical imagery by using Google Earth Tours. There is a lot of room for improvement and suggestions are welcome.

This month NASA’s New Horizons mission did a Pluto fly-by and we had a look at the new imagery of Pluto in Google Earth before and after the flyby.

We had a go at getting Landsat 8 imagery into Google Earth. Thank you to Geosage for providing some useful extra tips in the comments.

We made a JavaScript converter to convert from Google Maps Street View URLs to Google Earth Street View KMLs. Thank you to GEB reader LeRoy for letting us know that it wasn’t working in Internet Explorer. We have fixed the problem and it should now work in all modern browsers.

The post The best of Google Earth for July 2015 appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Animating historical imagery using Google Earth Tours

jeu 30-07-2015

Last year we showed you how to animate Google Earth historical imagery using the Google Earth plugin. However, the Google Earth plugin has been deprecated and is set to stop working on December 12th, 2015. In addition, Google Chrome and other browsers are making it harder to use the plugin.

So, we have decided to try and achieve the same thing using Google Earth Tours. In a Google Earth Tour it is possible to specify particular views that include not just the position and angle, but also whether or not to show ‘historical imagery’ and when in ‘historical imagery’ what exact date to show. It is, however, not easy to create a Tour to animate historical imagery using just the built in functionality of Google Earth, so instead we have decided to do it via JavaScript.

To use it, the first step is to decide what view you want in Google Earth. Create a Placemark in Google Earth then save it as a KML file. Do make sure it is KML not KMZ, as our script cannot read KMZ. Next, decide on your settings below and and upload the Placemark file. Then click on the “Create Tour” link to download the generated KML tour for you to view in Google Earth.

It has been tested in Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 11.


Start: (yyyy-mm-dd) End: (yyyy-mm-dd) Step: YearsMonthsDays Pause: (seconds) Placemark KML: Create Tour

Try adjusting the settings to get the best results for a given location. Remember that the functionality works whether you want to see whole continents or zoom right in, but you will want to choose your settings depending on the availability of imagery. Although it is possible to make the pause between steps shorter than 1 second, we found that Google Earth could not keep up and simply did not refresh the screen on every step. It seemed to work alright with the 1 second setting, but if you have a slow computer or slow internet you may want to make it longer. For best results run the tour through a few times depending on the speed of your internet to cache the imagery.

We have created a few tours which you can download here to give you an idea of what is possible.

The historical imagery for Europe in the YouTube video above appears to come in waves from the top downwards. We believe this has more to do with how Google Earth refreshes the screen during the tour than the actual dates that the imagery was added.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Latest Pluto map in Google Earth

mer 29-07-2015

Earlier this month, we had a look at a map of Pluto that NASA produced and made available in KML format for viewing Google Earth.

That was before the New Horizons spacecraft had reached Pluto and the image was very blurry. Now the flyby is complete and we are starting to see higher resolution images, including the first high resolution map. It still only includes about half of the surface area and is a monochrome image, but it is considerably higher resolution than the previous version.

The image provided turned out to be too large for Google Earth to display properly, so we had to halve the resolution. Even so, there is a lot of detail in the map and some interesting features to be seen.

To view it for yourself in Google Earth download this KML file. It is best viewed with all layers turned off, and turn off the Earth atmosphere for a more realistic look by de-selecting “View->Atmosphere”.

To see some other planets we have looked at with Google Earth see these posts.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth Blog FAQ

mar 28-07-2015

Quite a lot of the emails we get at GEB blog repeat the same questions or requests, so we thought it would be a good idea to create a short FAQ for GEB covering the most common questions and requests. Firstly, it is important to point out that we are a fan-based blog writing about Google Earth-related news and content. We are not part of Google.

I am having trouble installing Google Earth. Can you help?
The most common error recently has been 1603 on Windows. This is a known problem with the online installer and indicates that Google Earth is already installed. You could try just restoring the icons with instructions from here. If that fails, and for other types of installation errors, the offline installer found here resolves the majority of problems. Finally, consider installing a different version of Google Earth from the same set of links, either an older version, or Google Earth Pro instead of Google Earth.

Please make a correction to the map.
For single corrections use the ‘report a problem’ link at the bottom right hand corner of Google Maps. Alternatively, if you are willing to put in the effort and for larger updates use Google Map Maker and make the changes yourself. As of this writing, editing in Map Maker is temporarily disabled due to abuse, but it is expected to be re-enabled in early August 2015.

When will Google update my satellite / aerial imagery or Street View?
Google get their imagery from a wide variety of sources, and due to there being so many factors involved, it is impossible to predict when and where they will do updates. Frank did an excellent article about this found here. You should also keep in mind that the imagery displayed in Google Earth might not be the most recent available, so be sure to check the ‘Historical Imagery’ feature in Google Earth. More information about this can be found here. Instructions on how to use it, can be found here. An article about why the dates displayed in Google Earth may not always be completely accurate, can be found here.

Please update my satellite / aerial imagery, Street View or 3D imagery.
We have a detailed article about this question here. In summary, Google does not take requests for imagery updates. However, it is possible to add imagery to Street View using their Photo Sphere smartphone app.

Can I buy a satellite image of a particular location and time not found in Google Earth?
If you cannot find the date you are looking for in Google Earth and you are willing to spend money, one option is to purchase the satellite imagery. However, you may find the few other dates they have will have clouds, haze, or have other issues making them unsuitable for viewing. Suppliers of satellite imagery include:

For very low resolution imagery, consider the free Landsat 8 imagery. A better choice is to contact local commercial or government aerial photographers who may have larger archives of historical imagery for you to choose and acquire.

Please unblur an image in Street View.
As far as we know this is not possible. Google blurs images for privacy reasons and the process of verifying that you are the person in the image or have the necessary authority to ask for it to be unblurred would be just too complicated.

We do not know whether Google will, on request, fix cases like this where the face detection algorithm has blurred a statue’s face unnecessarily.

The post Google Earth Blog FAQ appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Mongolia gets Street View

lun 27-07-2015

Google has recently added Mongolia to the list of countries with Street View. Read more about it on Google’s LatLong blog. There have also been some major additions in Malaysia on the Island of Borneo. Previous major additions this year were Madagascar and Canadian parks in May and Greenland in February.

Extent of Street View in Mongolia.

Extent of Street View in Malaysia

Street View changes between June 22nd, 2015 and July 25th, 2015 (new Street View in red). Larger version here.

Street View captured Lake Khuvsgul Ice Festival. Fly there in Google Earth with this KML file

The post Mongolia gets Street View appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Getting Landsat 8 imagery into Google Earth

ven 24-07-2015

When Landsat 8 imagery was made available on Amazon AWS our first question was: ‘how easy will it be to view it in Google Earth?’. This is our experience trying to answer that question.

The Landsat 8 satellite has a number of different cameras that capture imagery in different wavelengths. For details of the various sensors see this article. What we want to do is try to get a true colour image into Google Earth, which involves combining the three colour bands (2,3 and 4) and the panchromatic band (band 8) to provide extra detail (a technique known as pansharpening).

The first step is to decide which part of the globe you wish to look at. Landsat 8 covers almost the whole globe every 16 days. The imagery is arranged into strips and rows and you need to determine the strip and row of your point of interest. We used the USGS Global Visualization Viewer for this purpose. It requires the Java plugin, which Chrome says will soon be unsupported. An alternative is USGS Earth Explorer. Both websites also help you find what Landsat imagery is available for a given point of interest. Look for one with either minimal cloud cover or as close as possible to the date you are interested in. We chose an image of the Cape Town region captured on July 1st, 2015. Take note of the scene ID, which in our case was LC81750832015182LGN00.

Next you need to find the relevant imagery on Amazon AWS. Amazon has a well written explanation for how the imagery is organized and how to access it. In our case, we chose to download it using a web browser directly from the URL, which for our image was:

Next, download the only file that is a *.txt file, as well as the files ending in B2.TIF, B3.TIF, B4.TIF and B8.TIF. Note that they are quite large files, typically about 400MB for all of them.

Next, we need to combine them and we came across a set of useful tools available for free for non-commercial use from GeoSage, which do most of the work for you. (Note that they are windows only.)

After downloading and installing the GeoSage’s Spectral Transformer for Landsat-8 (GUI), we ran it and opened the text file that was downloaded earlier. However, when we tried to run it, it could not read the TIF files as it doesn’t recognize the compression used. So we had to open and re-save each of the images to remove the compression. We managed to do this with the free Gimp image editing software. Having done that, Spectral Transformer worked without a hitch and produced a full colour pan-sharpened and stretched image.

All that remains is to put it in Google Earth as an image overlay and position it appropriately. The instructions for Spectral Transformer suggest that the output image is a GeoTIF and contains the necessary positioning information, but we were unable to get that to work, so we did it manually.

The result is an image that, apart from a little cloud cover, looks nearly identical to the Google Earth imagery – which of course makes sense because, as we mentioned yesterday, Google Earth at this zoom level shows an image that was created from Landsat imagery.

A Landsat 8 image imported into Google Earth looks almost identical to the default imagery.

Closer inspection reveals slight differences in crop patterns and water levels in a lake, as the image is of a different date than the Google Earth imagery. If you zoom in any further Google Earth switches to Digital Globe imagery.

Left: Imported Landsat 8 image. Right: Google Earth default image (also from Landsat).

The resolution of Landsat 8 imagery is only 15m for the Panchromatic band and even worse for the colour bands. You can make out larger ships and the football stadium, but individual houses or cars cannot be distinguished.

So, in conclusion, it is relatively easy to get Landsat imagery into Google Earth, but nevertheless probably not worth the effort unless you have a specific reason for doing so. If there was a particular event that was visible at 15m resolution (large wildfires or volcanic eruptions, for example) that happened to coincide with a Landsat 8 pass of that location, then it might be worth it. It could also be useful for looking at large scale vegetation cover changes over time, but if you want to compare more than one or two images, then consider using Google Earth Engine, which not only provides a wealth of tools and computing power specially designed for analysing Landsat imagery, but you might find someone has already done the analysis you are interested in. Another possible reason for getting Landsat imagery into Google Earth is that there may be interesting things to find in the non-visible colour bands that are not part of the current Google Earth imagery.

The image created by Spectral Transformer was 173MB, but we have compressed it with jpeg compression down to 23MB so that you can try it out if you wish, using this KML file.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth’s ‘background’ imagery

jeu 23-07-2015

As we have discussed before Google Earth shows different imagery depending on the zoom level and whether or not you are in ‘historical imagery’ mode. We have also talked about how the ocean bathymetry data changes in ‘historical imagery’.

When you are looking at the whole globe in ‘default’ mode, the imagery used for the land was cleverly created by taking Landsat imagery captured over a period of time and automatically removing cloud and snow cover by combining multiple images of each spot. As you zoom in, this transitions to higher resolution satellite or aerial imagery. For much of the world, the individual satellite images or patches of aerial imagery can be identified by means of the ‘historical imagery feature’. However, there are some ‘background’ sets of imagery that are not at first obvious.

If you view the whole globe in ‘historical imagery’ and move the time slider all the way to the left, the image you will see, looks very similar to the Landsat imagery seen in the zoomed out ‘default’ mode. However, this image is a different one and the attribution shows NASA as the provider. It is most likely MODIS data, which comes from Nasa’s Terra and Aqua spacecraft. Now, still in ‘historical imagery’, if you move the timeslider all the way to the right, all the satellite and aerial imagery found in ‘historical imagery’ gets superimposed on top of the background image. However, because the background image is such low resolution it is fairly easy to see where it shows through and there is no other satellite or aerial imagery available to date. If you find one such location, zoom right in, and then switch back to ‘default’ mode instead of the NASA imagery, for most parts of the world, Google Earth shows imagery attributed to CNES/Spot image. This is imagery that has been obtained via an agreement with Spot Image that we first reported on in 2007 when the imagery was first added in parts of Europe. Since then, most of the rest of the world has obtained similar imagery.

None of these ‘background image’ sets have any dates associated with them, nor, as far as we are aware, are they noted on Google’s Imagery update maps when they receive updates.

Left: Landsat imagery as seen in ‘default mode’ when zoomed out. Right: NASA imagery (probably MODIS data) as seen when in ‘historical imagery’ mode.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google gets altitude wrong and drowns a city

mer 22-07-2015

Thank you to GEB reader ‘jonahtornado’ for letting us know that Google appears to have got the altitude wrong in the 3D for the Italian city of Crotone. If looked at in Google Earth with the ‘Water Surface’ turned on it appears to be underwater.

It is actually not uncommon for 3D imagery to have a slight difference in altitude between it and the Google Earth default terrain, which results in a visible step at the edge of 3D regions in some places. Being near the coast, however, has resulted in most of the city being below sea level, which makes for quite an interesting effect. For best results turn on “Use photorealistic atmosphere rendering” found in Tools -> Options.

Use this KML file to fly straight there in Google Earth.

The ‘cliff’ where the 3D imagery meets default terrain is about 30m high.

According to our KML file the above 3D imagery was added to Google Earth in December 2014.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

The complex borders of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog

mar 21-07-2015

We recently watched this interesting YouTube video about the complicated borders between Belgium and the Netherlands. Baarle-Hertog is a municipality of Belgium which consists of 24 separate exlaves inside the Netherlands. To add to the complexity, there are 7 enclaves of the Netherlands municipality of Baarle-Nassau contained within the exclaves.

For an excellent explanation of what exclaves and enclaves are and many more examples of them see this excellent YouTube video and its second part. We have created this KML file
of some of the more interesting places from those videos.

The aerial imagery in the Baarle-Nassau / Baarle-Hertog area is not quite good enough to see the border markings, but you can see them in Street View as well as flags marking which country is which.

This house is in both Belgium and the Netherlands. That line of ‘+’s running through the front door is the border. It has two addresses, 2 Loveren, Baarle-Hertog marked on the left side of the door, and 19 Loveren, Baarle-Nassau marked on the right. Google Earth was only able to find the Baarle-Nassau address.

Flags marking the border. The nearest flag is, we think, a flag of Flanders marking the Netherlands side of the border, then there is a Belgian flag on the Belgian side and then an EU flag for good measure. The purple flowers also mark the border, which zig-zags through the garden.

The post The complex borders of Baarle-Nassau and Baarle-Hertog appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Converting Google Maps Street View URLs to KML

lun 20-07-2015

Google Maps Classic has been discontinued, and with it old URLs that pointed to Street View are no-longer working, including some in old posts on GEB. So we decided to write a bit of JavaScript to convert between Google Maps URL formats to aid in updating the broken links to the newer version of Google Maps. This required figuring out the various Google Maps URL formats.

We thought this would be a good opportunity to create a converter from Google Maps URLs to KML. In Google Earth there is a ‘View in Google Maps’ button, but no corresponding button exists in Google Maps for the reverse process. We have mentioned in the past that it is often difficult to find underwater Street View or aerial Street View in Google Earth. Google’s new ‘Street View highlights’ layer has made it a lot easier to find some locations. But for a random Street View location, the only way to find it in Google Earth is to search for the latitude and longitude, enter Street View and then try and find the same view.

It is difficult to get from the above location in Google Maps Street View to the same location in Google Earth as seen below.

So here is our first attempt at a converter from Google Maps Street View, to Google Earth. The script takes into account which direction you are looking in the Street View, but currently ignores the zoom. There are a few short comings with the process. Firstly, Google Earth does not have historical Street View, so if you start with an historical Street View URL you will instead see the most current Street View at that location. Secondly, it only seems to work with true Street View. If you try a user contributed PhotoSphere Google Earth will not display it.

Find a location you are interested in using Google Maps Street View then copy and paste the URL into the field below then click ‘Download KML’.

Google Maps Street View URL:

Download KML

The post Converting Google Maps Street View URLs to KML appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

3D cities layer: another look

ven 17-07-2015

Last month in celebration of the ten year anniversary of Google Earth, Google added some new layers under the heading ‘Voyager’. We already had a look at the new ‘3D cities’ layer last week. However, as we showed you with the ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer, it is possible to download the layer data and import it into excel for further analysis. So today, we are doing that for the ‘3D cities’ layer. Specifically, we are interested in the population figures that are displayed in the popups.

First, we need to point out that we do not know how accurate the population figures provided are. We do not know what sources Google uses for population data. Also, we do not know to what extent the population figures correspond to the actual areas covered with 3D. There are four locations with a population of zero: two football stadiums in Brazil, Black Rock City in the US and Arches National Park in the US. There were also twenty small towns in the US with a stated population of 333. This suggests they were merely estimated. Similar patterns occur elsewhere such as three towns in Bulgaria each having a population of 6,699.

Buenos Aires, Argentina, has the largest single population figure, but this isn’t necessarily the largest population covered by a single 3D mesh, as many places have multiple triangles per mesh.

Given the above caveats here are the population figures by continent:

#areasTable td, #areasTable th{ text-align: right; font-size:smaller } #areasTable th{padding-left:14px; font-weight:bold} #areasTable td:first-child ,#areasTable th:first-child{ text-align: left;padding-left:0px; }

Continent Population % of total Africa 1,730,976 0.5 Australia 5,980,800 1.6 Asia 33,584,272 9.3 South America 39,630,909 10.9 Europe 133,978,334 36.9 North America 147,810,132 40.8 Total 362,715,423


Note that South Africa is the only country represented in Africa and Japan is the only country represented in Asia. Australia and New Zealand are counted in the continent of Australia.

Here are the figures by country:

Country Population Ireland 33,262 Serbia 37,804 Luxembourg 77,853 Montenegro 140,997 Greece 161,068 New Zealand 776,234 Netherlands 873,576 Portugal 914,069 Sweden 925,027 Croatia 1,070,016 Finland 1,154,431 Denmark 1,722,610 South Africa 1,730,976 Norway 1,862,483 Czech Republic 2,445,534 Switzerland 2,640,162 Poland 2,683,702 Belgium 2,707,986 Bulgaria 2,759,257 Austria 2,849,803 Hungary 3,268,712 Romania 4,740,262 Australia 5,204,566 Chile 5,787,730 Argentina 12,704,129 Spain 15,687,278 Canada 16,196,329 France 17,242,280 Mexico 18,493,719 United Kingdom 20,589,299 Brazil 21,139,050 Germany 21,412,939 Italy 25,977,924 Japan 33,584,272 United States 113,120,084 Total 362,715,423

Japan is the second largest, which is not surprising when you realise that Tokyo alone is listed as having a population of over 8 million.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Problems with water in Google Earth 3D

jeu 16-07-2015

As Google continues rolling out 3D imagery one outstanding problem that they don’t seem to have been able to resolve is what to do about water. The cause of the problem is quite simple – water usually doesn’t stand still. Google’s 3D imagery is generated via a process called stereophotogrammetry, which involves taking multiple images from different angles and then working out the 3D shape of the landscape. However, if something moves or changes between images then the technique fails. Google has improved the way it deals with moving vehicles, as we noted when looking at New York, but they don’t yet seem to have found a way to deal with water.

What should be a relatively calm river, turns into a dangerous canyon.

The problem mostly occurs along rivers and shorelines. Away from the shore, Google turns off the 3D altogether and instead we can observe interesting ghosting effects where multiple images of boats and ships are merged together.

Here we can see four images were captured in close succession.They must be captured from slightly different angles, although it is hard to tell. Remember that both the camera and the boat are moving.

In some cases it is difficult to count how many images there are.

For some reason sports fields often also have a problem. It has something to do with the large area of uniform colour.

Google puts extra effort into particular buildings and bridges, often with fairly detailed modelling and excellent results. We suggest they consider also spending a bit of time flattening out the water, as it would greatly improve the imagery.

To see the locations featured in this post in Google Earth, download this KML file. You can, however, find examples of the problem almost anywhere where there is 3D and water.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Time-lapse videos from Himawari-8

mer 15-07-2015

Google Maps Mania recently had an interesting post about time-lapse videos of Earth from space captured by a Japanese weather satellite named Himawari-8. Check them out on the Himawari-8 website here. In addition to the time-lapse videos, the website’s homepage features a near real-time view of the earth. In addition, you can scroll through images for the past week. There are two possible views selectable from the menu at the top left. There is a view of just the Japan region with images every two and a half minutes and a view of the whole globe with images taken at 10 minute intervals.

View from Himawari-8 at noon. The time shown is Japan time (UTC +9).

It is important to note, however, that Himiwari-8 is a geostationary satellite and so it always has the same view of the earth, which in this case is centred above the equator to the south of Japan. Geostationary satellites have the advantage of being able to monitor a single view continuously. In addition, geostationary orbits are so high (35,786 km approx.) that it is possible to take an image of the whole world at once (from a particular angle). Most high resolution imaging satellites, such as those that provide most of the imagery for Google Earth, are in much lower orbits (typically 400 – 600 km) and travel at such fast speed that they can only view a particular location for a few minutes, as we saw with the UrtheCast videos. They still fly over the same location on earth once a day or more, so longer term time-lapses are still possible.

Google Earth’s weather layer includes a near real-time cloud layer that comes from weather satellites similar to the Japanese one. If you check the ‘information’ sub-layer of the weather layer you can download a 24 hour animation of the clouds viewable in Google Earth.

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Amtrak train derailment and other new imagery

mar 14-07-2015

Yesterday we looked to Google Earth’s new layer that shows satellite and aerial imagery updates. However, it is important to note that Google has continued to add new imagery to Google Earth since that layer was added and they have not yet updated the layer nor updated their map.

So, we thought we would have a look at some of the more interesting imagery we have found so far.

On the 12th of May, 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, USA killing 8 people and injuring over 200. The train was going in excess of the speed limit for the track, but it appears that it is not yet known why that was the case. For more, see the Wikipedia page.

The image is a bit cloudy, but it was captured the day following the accident, and you can see the rail cars. Check older imagery to see the layout of the tracks in the area.

On May 18th, 2015 a landslide tore through a valley near Salgar, Colombia. The older imagery for the area is black & white and not very good quality, but if you compare various spots along the river, you can see that the river has carved out a much larger channel than was there before, taking houses and trees along with it.

The above locations were found using DigitalGlobe’s FirstLook map. Another image from the FirstLook map that is in Google Earth is Waisak Day, an event in Indonesia in which twenty thousand Buddhists were expected to celebrate at Borobudur Temple. The image was captured on the day, but we were unable to identify anything of particular interest.

We also spotted some imagery of Lynchburg, Virginia captured on May 4th and 6th, 2015. The second is a black & white image, strongly suggesting that there was something of interest around those dates. Can any of our readers identify what it was?

Thank you to GEB reader Sladys for identifying the reason for the black & white image of Paris that we mentioned in our new layer suggestion post last week. It shows the Quarterfinals in the French Open at Roland Garros albeit half covered in cloud.

To view all the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth download this KML file

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Catégories: Sites Anglophones