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The amazing things about Google Earth
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The Google Earth Blog Santa Tracker

mar 20-12-2016

This year we will be running the same Google Earth Blog Santa tracker that we did last year. As we had last year, there are two versions, one using dynamic tours in Google Earth, which update by means of a network link and one that uses the Google Earth API. Instructions on how to use them can be found here.

Google Earth API based Santa Tracker

Google Earth Santa Tracker
We recommend the Google Earth API version if you have a compatible browser available, as it produces a better experience overall.

The Google Earth API is set to be shut down on January 11th, 2017 so this is in part a final farewell to it.

As has been the case for a number of years now, there are at least two other Santa Trackers run by Google and NORAD.

The post The Google Earth Blog Santa Tracker appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Land Lines Chrome experiment

lun 19-12-2016

Land Lines is an interesting Chrome experiment that uses Google Earth imagery. The experiment was made by Zach Lieberman, Matt Felsen, and the Data Arts Team. They have used the imagery from the Earth View Chrome extension and performed line detection on it. Learn more about the technical details here and either just try it out or see the YouTube video below to see it in action:

It has two modes, Draw and Drag. In the Draw mode, you draw a shape and it finds a matching image. The Drag mode makes more sense on mobile. You drag the image around and it creates a continuous line matching up images as required.

Although it is a ‘Chrome experiment’ it seems to work well in Firefox and Edge, but would not load properly in Internet Explorer 11.

If Google were to release a more modern version of the Google Earth API, imagine what would be possible!

The post Land Lines Chrome experiment appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Street View comes to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

ven 16-12-2016

Thank you to GEB reader Adino for letting us know that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands recently received Street View.

You can see our ‘Street View changes map’ below:

Street view changes between November 11th, 2016 and December 12th, 2016.
Blue: existing Street View.
Red: changes to the map.
Larger version

Note that the round dots are user-submitted photos and not Google’s Street View. The user-submitted photo markers come and go over time as the algorithm that decides which to show at this zoom level doesn’t always pick the same ones. Also note that one of the red patches in Madagascar is not Street View but a change to the base map. There are also tiny changes globally to the coastlines, suggesting Google used some new data to improve on them.

Paseo del Morro, Puerto Rico. See in Street View.

Hams Bluff Light, an old lighthouse on the US Virgin Islands. See in Street View.

The post Street View comes to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Landsat / Sentinel global mosaic automatic switcher

jeu 15-12-2016

Recently Google added to Google Earth global mosaics of Landsat and Sentinel 2 imagery for each year between 1984 and 2016. (1984 was originally omitted but has since been added). We then released a KML file that allows you to animate the imagery by means of a dynamic tour. However, sometimes it is more useful to be able to switch directly between 1984 and 2016 to see the dramatic changes between those dates. So, today we are releasing a slightly modified version that does just that.

Simply open this KML file in Google Earth. Then switch to ‘historical imagery’ and find a location of interest, then play the ‘Switcher’ tour found in the KML. If you wish to move to a different location, close the tour, move to the new location, wait a moment, then open it again. For best results set the tour to auto-repeat.

.sliders img{max-width:none; }

‘Before and After’ showing the dramatic development in China over the last 32 years.

jQuery(document).ready(function() {jQuery(function(){jQuery('.sliders').each(function(i){jQuery(this).beforeAfter({imagePath: '/js/utils/',showFullLinks : false});});});});

The post Landsat / Sentinel global mosaic automatic switcher appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth sinks an island

mer 14-12-2016

Thank you to GEB reader Ragnhild for bringing this to our attention. The island of Gorgona off the west coast of Italy appears to be a large lake in Google Earth.

Turn on View->Water Surface in Google Earth, for the best effect.

We don’t think it is a case of the altitudes simply being inverted, as areas with a lot of buildings on are probably quite flat in reality, and there are areas where the cultivation follows the (real) contours which lead us to believe the central areas of the island are approximately the right shape, just several hundred metres below where they should be and the steep slopes around the edges are just Google Earth trying to reconcile the conflicting data.

Also try turning on the roads layer and the roads appear to float at sea level.

We have looked at similar effects in the past, including the time Google drowned the city of Crotone, Italy and parts of southern California that are below sea level and show the water surface animation.

Google Earth elevation data can be very inaccurate, especially in mountainous areas, as we have discussed before when looking at Rio de Janeiro.

The post Google Earth sinks an island appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Google Earth API /plugin finally coming to an end

mar 13-12-2016

Google has announced that they are finally shutting down the Google Earth API /plugin on Wednesday, January 11, 2017. They first announced its deprecation in December 2014, giving it a year. In December 2015, they gave it a temporary reprieve, which is finally running out.

The Google Earth API is based on an old technology called the NPAPI plugin framework and is primarily intended to allow Google Earth to be run in a browser and controlled with JavaScript. However, it has been used in some desktop apps as well. The NPAPI plugin framework is considered outdated and insecure by most browser vendors, and some, including Google Chrome, have dropped it altogether. Others, such as Firefox (32-bit), allow you to use it but only after specifically allowing the plugin to run.

We will miss it, as it was a good way to access information about historical imagery and we used to create imagery update maps using it. However, since June, Google has not updated the ‘historical imagery’ layer (other than the recent addition of the global Landsat/Sentinel mosaics)

Google Earth 4
At the same time, Google is ending support for Google Earth 4. Anyone running Google Earth 4 will no longer be able to access imagery from January 11, 2017. The current latest version is

If you absolutely need an older version, you can download older versions going back to Google Earth 5.0 here.

Here’s hoping Google can come up with a new Google Earth API that allows us to control Google Earth and query its data.

One of the uses we had for the Google Earth API was studying [historical imagery density](One of

The post Google Earth API /plugin finally coming to an end appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Global surface water and historical changes map

lun 12-12-2016

The science journal Nature recently published an article about mapping long term global surface water using the archive of Landsat and Sentinel imagery using Google Earth Engine. You can read more about it here. This is the same data that was used to create the global historical mosaics that Google recently added to Google Earth but processed to show areas with surface water.

The data has been made freely available via the Global Surface Water Explorer. Sadly, we could not find a way to view the data in Google Earth. There is, however, mention in the ‘download’ options that the data will be made available via ‘web mapping services’, at which point we could make it available for Google Earth in a similar way to what we did with the Mapzen Altitude Tileset

There are a number of options well worth exploring, such as seasonal changes, changes over the last 32 years, various combinations of those and more.

The Brahmaputra River, Bangladesh, which we recently noted changes quite dramatically over time.

The slow death of Great Salt Lake, Utah, looks like a murder scene or an abstract painting.

Toshka Lakes near the Aswan Dam in Egypt is a totally new water body.

Also note that one of the ‘background map’ options is to turn on ‘Earth time-lapse’ animation.

The post Global surface water and historical changes map appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

A burnt out plane and some imagery errors

ven 09-12-2016

On August 3rd, 2016, Emirates Flight 521 carrying 282 passengers and 18 crew crashed while landing at Dubai International Airport. One fire fighter died in the rescue effort, but all the passengers and crew survived. The plane was almost entirely destroyed by fire. See pictures and video here. DigitalGlobe captured an image of the airport just five days later. Being a busy airport, the wreckage had been moved out of the way, but can still be seen:

We also noticed that in that location if you switch to ‘historical imagery’ Google Earth incorrectly continues to show the default layer. Only when you switch to older images or zoom out does it disappear. It appears Google has got some settings wrong on the imagery there.

While investigating other imagery updates, including some flooding in Australia in September, we came across some patches of blurred imagery:

At first it looks like censorship, but given the location and the large number of blurred patches (at least eleven), we believe it is where there were clouds in the original image. Normally, for the default layer, Google replaces cloudy patches with older imagery. However, something appears to have gone wrong in this case. We later found the same effect in Bangladesh, so it is not an isolated incident.

Also in Bangladesh we came across a strip of imagery that at first looks like it is out of alignment or has been misplaced. However, on closer inspection we believe it is simply that the river has changed significantly between May 2016 (the strip) and November 2016 (the background) when the two images were taken.

To see the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth, download this KML file

The post A burnt out plane and some imagery errors appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 sees first light

jeu 08-12-2016

We wrote about DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 back in August and again when it was expected to be launched in September. However, the launch was subsequently delayed and actually took place on November 11, 2016.

DigitalGlobe has recently released WorldView-4’s first public image, taken on November 26, featuring the Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan.

And here is part of the image zoomed in, showing the full resolution:

You can see people in the tennis courts (identifiable by their shadows). Overall, the resolution and colours are clearly better than the average satellite imagery found in Google Earth, but of course not as good as most aerial imagery.

You can download the full high resolution image from the DigitalGlobe website as well as learn more about the satellite and watch its launch.

As we discussed previously, WorldView-4 has similar capabilities to WorldView-3, so don’t expect to see higher resolution imagery than anything previously seen, but do expect a greater quantity of good quality, high resolution imagery. The location of such imagery will depend, as always, on suitable weather conditions and interest from DigitalGlobe or its customers and whether or not it is passed on to Google for inclusion in Google Earth.

The post DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 sees first light appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Moving sand in Landsat animations

mer 07-12-2016

Last week Google added global mosaics in historical imagery for each year going back to 1985. The mosaics are created from mostly Landsat imagery with a bit of Sentinel 2 imagery for the last couple of years (the Sentinel 2 satellite is new). The mosaics are created by gathering all the Landsat/Sentinel 2 imagery for a given year and looking for cloud-free and snow-free pixels then combining the images to create a single global mosaic for the year. Although it is fantastic for viewing long term change, the overall result is that we actually miss out on short term changes.

Back in July we wrote a post about watching sand dunes move with Google Earth imagery. Today we are looking at a similar concept, but with Landsat imagery instead. In August we created a KML file that automatically creates animations using Landsat imagery with thumbnails from Amazon Web Services. We used that tool to create the two GIF animations below:

Sand blowing in the Sahara (southern Libya). Explore original animation.

Sand blowing and irrigation circles in Oman. Note especially south west of the centre of the animation there are wisps of sand moving north west. Explore original animation.

What we found interesting is that established dunes hardly move at all over the three years covered by the animations, but loose sand can clearly be seen moving. It looks no different than sand being blown on the beach. Yet the scales involved in the animations are tens of kilometres and a three year period.

You will also notice in the second animation the dunes to the north east appear to pulse sharper, then softer again. This is because the angle of the sun affects the shadows during the course of the year.

The post Moving sand in Landsat animations appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

Catégories: Sites Anglophones