Google Earth Blog http://www.gearthblog.com The amazing things about Google Earth Tue, 06 Dec 2016 09:51:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 50387158 Panoramio photos not showing in Google Earth http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/panoramio-photos-not-showing-google-earth.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/panoramio-photos-not-showing-google-earth.html#comments Tue, 06 Dec 2016 09:51:27 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19659 Thank you to GEB readers Frank, Manuel, Jim and Gabriel for letting us know that the Panoramio photos are not displaying in Google Earth. The layer and placeholder icons are there but when you click on them the images do not display. In October Google did announce that it was shutting down Panoramio in favour […]

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Thank you to GEB readers Frank, Manuel, Jim and Gabriel for letting us know that the Panoramio photos are not displaying in Google Earth. The layer and placeholder icons are there but when you click on them the images do not display.

In October Google did announce that it was shutting down Panoramio in favour of Google Street View. The announcement said that as of November 4th, 2016, new signups and uploads would be stopped. However, they indicated that users had until November, 2017 to download their photos and optionally transfer them to Street View. We assumed that this meant that they would keep the API that Google Earth uses running until November 2017. It would seem that that may not be the case.

If Google has shut down the Panoramio API it would be a great pity as many parts of the world have almost no Street View photos whereas Panoramio has near global coverage. We have recently been experimenting with capturing photos for Street View and the process is not well thought out and it seems to be impossible to put the captured photos in the correct place when Street View misplaces them. It makes logical sense for Google to only have one 360 degree photo service but they really need to improve the Street View offering as far as user contributions are concerned before completely shutting down Panoramio.

The loss of Panoramio photos in Google Earth is only one of several similar changes. In October two of the the Google Earth weather layers were dropped. Recently we also noticed that the Earthquake layer is not updating correctly.

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Villagers in India loosing land to a changing river http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/villagers-india-loosing-land-changing-river.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/villagers-india-loosing-land-changing-river.html#comments Mon, 05 Dec 2016 09:35:39 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19617 The villagers of Kambakshpur in India are complaining that the Yamuna River near their village is changing course over time, resulting in them loosing land. Interestingly, ‘The Hindu’ newspaper has made use of the new Google Earth global mosaics in historical imagery to investigate. Read the full story on The Hindu website. Speed in milliseconds […]

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The villagers of Kambakshpur in India are complaining that the Yamuna River near their village is changing course over time, resulting in them loosing land. Interestingly, ‘The Hindu’ newspaper has made use of the new Google Earth global mosaics in historical imagery to investigate. Read the full story on The Hindu website.


The changing course of the Yamuna River in India, 1989 to date

As we noted last week, although Google has provided global mosaics from 1985, in some locations, the early mosaics are actually identical. For the location above, the mosaics from 1985 to 1989 are identical, so we have started the animation from 1989.

Overall, land is being lost and gained about equally on both sides of the river. In addition a significant amount of farming land is being converted to residential property.

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Animating the new Landsat/Sentinel global mosaics with a dynamic tour http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/animating-new-landsatsentinel-global-mosaics-dynamic-tour.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/animating-new-landsatsentinel-global-mosaics-dynamic-tour.html#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2016 10:49:34 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19551 Earlier this week Google added to Google Earth global mosaics based on Landsat and Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to 2016. Google Earth Engine provides animations for the data using a web based interface. We promised to release a way to animate the data in Google Earth. Simply download this KML file and open it […]

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Earlier this week Google added to Google Earth global mosaics based on Landsat and Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to 2016. Google Earth Engine provides animations for the data using a web based interface. We promised to release a way to animate the data in Google Earth.

Simply download this KML file and open it in Google Earth. Then switch to ‘historical imagery’ and find a location of interest then play the ‘Animation’ 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. Depending on your internet speed, either let the tour run through a couple of times to load all the imagery, or you can manually go through each year first to make sure it is loaded, then run the tour to see it animated.


The growth of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, over 30 years (1985-2016) using the new Google Earth global mosaics.

The imagery covers a period of just over 30 years and there is almost no place on the planet that hasn’t changed significantly in that time, so get exploring!

Remember these are long term changes, not month-to-month changes.

We chose a timing of one second per image. We would have liked to go faster, but Google Earth cannot handle faster tours and starts to skip images if you increase the speed.

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The best of Google Earth for November 2016 http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/best-google-earth-november-2016.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/12/best-google-earth-november-2016.html#respond Thu, 01 Dec 2016 10:53:07 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19538 The biggest Google Earth news this month was the release of new global mosaics of Landsat/Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to date, and the release of Google Earth VR edition. Speed in milliseconds per image: The growth of Lusaka, Zambia, over 30 years (1985-2016) using the new Google Earth global mosaics. We had a look […]

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The biggest Google Earth news this month was the release of new global mosaics of Landsat/Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to date, and the release of Google Earth VR edition.


The growth of Lusaka, Zambia, over 30 years (1985-2016) using the new Google Earth global mosaics.

The land art of Dario Gambarin We had a look at the artwork of Italian artist Dario Gambarin in the fields near the Italian town of Castagnaro.
Tesla powers an islandWe had a look at the island of Ta’u that has recently installed a solar system from Tesla, including solar panels and large batteries. We also had a look at a number of other islands using renewable energy.
The story of Saroo Brierley now featured in Google EarthGoogle released Edition 3 of the Voyager layers featuring the story of Saroo Brierley, who found his way home with the help of Google Earth. We have received number of complaints from GEB readers that it is not obvious how to get rid of the popup that is enabled by default. The solution is to deselect the Voyager layer.
3D Buildings in Flight Simulator in Google Earth ProWe had a look at how to enable 3D buildings in the flight simulator in Google Earth Pro, where, unlike the standard version, the 3D buildings are turned off by default.
The Kaikoura Earthquake LandslidesWe used Sentinel 2 imagery to have a look at the large number of landslides near Kaikoura, New Zealand following a large earthquake in the region.
A Google Earth Photo toolWe had a look at a tool created by GEB reader Michael Lee for putting photos in Google Earth. It differs from a similar tool we created in that ours creates photo overlays, whereas Micheal’s creates icons with the image in the popup.
The Dolores, Uruguay TornadoWe had a look at Dolores, Uruguay and the damage caused by a tornado that struck it in April 2016.
Lightning strikes map in Google EarthWe had a look at several lightning strikes maps available for Google Earth.
Various new sights in Google Earth imageryWe had a look at various sights in Google Earth imagery, including an explosion at the Puma Energy plant in Nicaragua, the North Korean floods of August, 2016, a folk village that has been removed in North Korea, and the June 2016 Gay Pride Parade in New York.
Street View comes to Albania and MontenegroThe countries of Albania and Montenegro got Street View.
Google Map Maker merging with Google MapsGoogle announced that it is merging Google Map Maker into Google Maps. We have noticed recently that they have stopped showing postcode boundaries in Google Maps. We don’t know if this is related to the change.

Animating in Google Earth Part 2 – Importing ModelsWe started a series on animating in Google Earth. So far we have covered:
The pros and cons of different types of animation
How to import models
The time toolbar
Stay tuned for more posts in the series.

Tornado tracks in Google Earth imageryWe had a look at tornado tracks that we have been able to identify in Google Earth imagery.
More Italian earthquakes and the Google Earth earthquake layer not updatingWe had a look at the Google Earth built-in ‘Earthquakes’ layer and noted that it is not updating. We recommend using the USGS provided KML files instead.
Residents of Mars part 2We had a look at some residents of Mars as part of a series we started in October.

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More about the new Landsat / Sentinel 2 data in Google Earth http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/new-landsat-sentinel-2-data-google-earth.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/new-landsat-sentinel-2-data-google-earth.html#comments Wed, 30 Nov 2016 10:37:34 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19513 Yesterday Google surprised us by adding global mosaics created from Landsat and Sentinel 2 data to the Google Earth’s ‘historical imagery’. The data comes to Google Earth via Google Earth Engine, which has long had this time-lapse feature that has just been updated to include imagery up to 2016. The timelapse page also tells us […]

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Yesterday Google surprised us by adding global mosaics created from Landsat and Sentinel 2 data to the Google Earth’s ‘historical imagery’. The data comes to Google Earth via Google Earth Engine, which has long had this time-lapse feature that has just been updated to include imagery up to 2016. The timelapse page also tells us more about the imagery:

Using Earth Engine, we combined over 5 million satellite images acquired over the past three decades by 5 different satellites. The majority of the images come from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that has observed the Earth since the 1970s. For 2015 and 2016, we combined Landsat 8 imagery with imagery from Sentinel-2A, part of the European Commission and European Space Agency’s Copernicus Earth observation program.”

Google Earth Engine has also published this post about the update.

On Friday we will release a KML file that will allow you to view similar time-lapses from directly within Google Earth.

Today we are making a few observations about the imagery.

The first observation comes from GEB reader ‘haflaa’ who points out that although the mosaics are global for every year between 1985 and 2016, there are some locations, such as the Maldives, where the imagery is identical for a number of years. In the case of the Maldives, the imagery is identical from 1985 to 1999.

We also note that the Google Earth Engine animation starts in 1984, whereas the Google Earth data starts with December 1985 (which we presume represents the data for the whole of 1985).

The path of the satellite is often noticeable in the imagery. For more on the orbit of the Landsat satellites see this post and this post.

In many locations you will notice narrow stripes in the imagery. This is because of a faulty part on the Landsat 7 satellite. Learn more about it in this post.

The mosaics are created by trying to select imagery from throughout a given year then selecting cloud and snow free pixels where possible. However, there are a few locations on earth that are almost always cloudy, a problem we discussed in this post.


This location in Cameroon features both Landsat 7 stripes and clouds that just could not be eliminated.

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Google Earth now has global Landsat and Sentinel 2 data from 1985 to 2016 http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/google-earth-now-global-landsat-sentinel-2-data-1985-2016.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/google-earth-now-global-landsat-sentinel-2-data-1985-2016.html#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2016 10:01:30 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19490 Thank you for GEB reader Jonah for being the first to let us know. Google has added yearly global mosaics using Landsat and Sentinel 2 data going back to 1985. Google has long had these mosaics on Google Earth Engine which also provides a ‘Timelapse’ tool. As of this writing, the Google Earth Engine timelapse […]

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Thank you for GEB reader Jonah for being the first to let us know. Google has added yearly global mosaics using Landsat and Sentinel 2 data going back to 1985. Google has long had these mosaics on Google Earth Engine which also provides a ‘Timelapse’ tool. As of this writing, the Google Earth Engine timelapse only goes up to 2012, but that will likely be updated too.

To see the mosaics, simply zoom out a bit and switch to ‘historical imagery’.

We plan to create tools to animate the new data, but that may take a few days.

Here are a few ‘before and afters’ showing changes between 1985 and 2016.

before
after

The Amazon, 1985 vs 2016

before
after

Dubai, 1985 vs 2016

before
after

The region around Shenzhen, China, 1985 vs 2016

Note that the new data is created by blending all Landsat/Sentinel 2 data for a whole year to remove clouds and snow cover. The result is that changes that happen on timescales less than a year, such as seasonal changes, will not be visible.

Google has not (as of this writing) updated the historical imagery layer with all the high resolution imagery that has been added since June 2016.

There is one disadvantage to the new data – it is much harder to find historical imagery, as you need to zoom in very close to the earth to see the high resolution historical imagery.

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The land art of Dario Gambarin http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/land-art-dario-gambarin.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/land-art-dario-gambarin.html#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 12:26:42 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19488 We recently came across Italian artist Dario Gambarin who has been creating a large amount of land art in fields near the Italian town of Castagnaro. He creates his art in actively cultivated fields, so it typically does not last long. As a result, only a few of his works can be found in Google […]

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We recently came across Italian artist Dario Gambarin who has been creating a large amount of land art in fields near the Italian town of Castagnaro. He creates his art in actively cultivated fields, so it typically does not last long. As a result, only a few of his works can be found in Google Earth imagery.


“No Inceneritore” – objecting to an incinerator being built in the region.


“Italia in Campo” (Italy in the field). Portrait of Italian football player Mario Balotelli featuring his mohawk hairstyle as seen from the back.


“In ricordo di Crevalcore” (In memory of Crevalcore). In memory of the 2012 Italian earthquake


“Benedictus XVI” A dove for the pope.

We found what appears to be the artist’s website, but it only shows his early works. A Google image search reveals a lot more artworks, including some that are particularly relevant to current news, including a portrait of Fidel Castro, who recently passed away, and a portrait of Donald Trump with the word ‘Ciao’ (bye) apparently created when it looked like Clinton would win the US election.

We were able to find the locations of most of Dario’s works listed on his website and have put together this KML file showing that he mostly uses the same seven fields again and again. There were a few that we failed to locate, so there may actually be more of his art in Google Earth imagery that we did not find.

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Tesla powers an island http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/tesla-powers-island.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/tesla-powers-island.html#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2016 10:34:57 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19461 Tesla has recently agreed to merge with Solar City. To help publicise the merger, Solar City recently published this YouTube Video about a solar installation using Tesla’s ‘power pack’ batteries that now powers the island of Ta’u in American Samoa. In Google Earth we can see the solar array under construction: Ta’u is not the […]

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Tesla has recently agreed to merge with Solar City. To help publicise the merger, Solar City recently published this YouTube Video about a solar installation using Tesla’s ‘power pack’ batteries that now powers the island of Ta’u in American Samoa.

In Google Earth we can see the solar array under construction:

Ta’u is not the first island to be powered by solar. The nearby Island of Tokelau has been powered by solar since 2013. Sadly, the imagery is a bit old (a recurring theme in this post) and we cannot see the solar panels. The Danish island of Samso claims to be the first island in the world to go 100% renewable, but we could not find any imagery of their wind turbines.

A common complaint about renewables such as solar and wind, is what to do when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Tesla solves this problem with batteries. But another island, El Hierro, one of the Canary Islands, uses pumped water storage combined with wind turbines.

Moving away from islands, we had a look at this Wikipedia list of the largest photovoltaic power stations in the world (over 100 MW). Solar has really taken off around the world in the last few years, and Google Earth imagery can’t keep up. The second on the list, Kamuthi Solar Power Project, was built in just a few months between June and September 2016 and no sign of it can be seen in current Google Earth imagery. Top of the list is Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China, which can be seen in Landsat imagery when zoomed out, but as you zoom in to higher resolution satellite imagery, it disappears, as the high resolution imagery was captured before it was built.


Longyangxia Dam Solar Park, China.

We have put together this KML file which includes the above mentioned islands as well as the list from Wikipedia where coordinates are given.

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Creating Thanksgiving cards with Google Earth http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/creating-thanksgiving-cards-google-earth-2.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/creating-thanksgiving-cards-google-earth-2.html#comments Thu, 24 Nov 2016 11:03:52 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19448 Happy Thanksgiving! Today we are having a look at how to make your very own Thanksgiving card in Google Earth. This is based on a card Frank created back in 2006 and the instructions come from last year’s Thanksgiving post. Firstly, you need an image with your Thanksgiving greeting. The easiest is to simply find […]

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we are having a look at how to make your very own Thanksgiving card in Google Earth. This is based on a card Frank created back in 2006 and the instructions come from last year’s Thanksgiving post.

Firstly, you need an image with your Thanksgiving greeting. The easiest is to simply find a suitable image by doing a Google image search for ‘Thanksgiving’. Keep in mind that there may be copyright restrictions on such images, so they should really only be for personal use. Alternatively, you can get a bit more personal by creating your own image. That way you can write your own unique message. Ideally, you want to end up with an image that is roughly the correct proportions for the location you want to display it and also has a transparent background. Keep in mind that to use transparent backgrounds you need to save the image as a .png or .gif. We used Microsoft Word to create the image then took a screen shot and used Gimp to give it a transparent background. We used some clipart from OpenClipart.org.

Next, you simply create an image overlay in Google Earth (click this icon on the toolbar). Adjust its size and location to suit and select your image to be shown.

If you wish to send your greeting to someone else, be sure to save the image overlay as a KMZ file, so that it includes the image in the file. KML files do not include images.

If you want to go all out, you could also decorate the sky, as we did for Halloween. Just download this file and replace the image in the overlay with your own Thanksgiving themed image.


An updated version showing how easy it is to do. See it for yourself in Google Earth with this KMZ file

We also came across this interesting post, which features a KML file exploring the history of Thanksgiving.

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The story of Saroo Brierley now featured in Google Earth http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/story-saroo-brierley-now-featured-google-earth.html http://www.gearthblog.com/blog/archives/2016/11/story-saroo-brierley-now-featured-google-earth.html#comments Wed, 23 Nov 2016 10:48:59 +0000 http://www.gearthblog.com/?p=19427 Google has just updated the ‘Voyager’ layer to Edition 3. As soon as you open Google Earth on your desktop you will see a window featuring the story of Saroo Brierly. We have featured Saroo’s story a number of times in the past. In summary, he got on a train as a child in India […]

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Google has just updated the ‘Voyager’ layer to Edition 3. As soon as you open Google Earth on your desktop you will see a window featuring the story of Saroo Brierly. We have featured Saroo’s story a number of times in the past. In summary, he got on a train as a child in India and got lost. He was subsequently adopted by a Tasmanian couple. When he grew up, he managed to find his original home and family with the use of Google Earth. See the new Google Earth Tour for the full story. (NOTE: you can keep the window from appearing by turning off the “Voyager” layer before you exit Google Earth).

Saroo wrote the book ‘A Long Way Home’ about his experiences. It has since been made into the movie ‘Lion’ opening in cinemas from November 25th, 2016. The film stars Dev Patel (of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ fame), Rooney Mara, David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.

The updated Voyager layer also contains two sub layers: 3D cities and Satellite imagery updates. The 3D cities layer is not worth bothering with, as it only shows a subset of recent additions to the 3D imagery. If you want a comprehensive map then rather use our KML file.

The ‘Satellite imagery updates’ layer is certainly interesting, but again, is far from comprehensive, representing most likely only a single update, probably in late October or early November. The imagery featured is from a wide variety of dates, but mostly August to October, 2016, but it is not complete even for those months. Cape Town, for instance, has imagery from October that is not shown in the layer.

The voyager layers were first added to Google Earth in celebration of its 10th anniversary in June last year. Edition 2 was released in September of the same year and this is the first update since then. Sadly, Google has removed both previous editions.

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