Shaded Relief Map of US Terrain in Google Earth

SRTM shaded relief map of terrain in Google EarthA GEB reader wrote me to tell me of his project over the holidays to create a dynamic KML which shows Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model in a shaded relief format for North America (NOTE: GE 4 is required). Jiro implemented this using KML 2.1 region tags so you get more detail as you zoom in, and it works very quickly. He also has used Google Picasa web servers and managed to parse the resulting location of all the images which really helps since the images end up being on many servers. The entire database is just under 1 GBtyes. But, you don’t need the technical stuff. Just go download this shaded relief map and check it out. Jiro points out it is possible to do the whole world since the SRTM mission data is available for the whole Earth. Great job Jiro, this is amazing!

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Dunkleosteus says:

    Actually, the SRTM data covers only the region between 56°S and 60°N. Most of the Earth is covered, but places like Alaska, northern Canada, northern Europe, northern Siberia and whole Antarctica don’t have data.

  2. You can see the srtm data as custom tiles in a google map mashup at

  3. says:

    Hi! I’d like to make a question about a problem that I’ve with GE and the SRTM 4.1 plugin.
    I open the KMZ and then click “elevation” to see the grid data to download the SRTM zip file. But I can´t see any grid! I’ve tryed in different pc’s, with different conections and the same happens. I click “elevation” and nothing comes out, no grid, nothing. How is it possible? What am I doing wrong?
    Tthree days ago I used this feature without any problem but from then the “elevation” icon didn’t respond any mor. Help please! I need to download SRTM files from GE to work in Global Mapper.
    Thanks a lot

  4. Hi. I have the same problem but now any of the solutions seem to work properly. I can`t se the “elevation” feature to see the grid data to download the SRTM zip file. I’ve tried deleting the “cache” memory, I deactivated “terrain” and I disconnected and reconnect from the server and nothing happens. What should I do to see the SRTM grid. Yestarday I could see it but today it doesn’t work. Can you help me?
    I’ve tried in differents PC’s but neither of them work out. these pc’s use the same internet server. And I also reset my pc.
    Thanks a lot

Leave a Reply