New Snow and Ice Data for Google Earth

Sea Ice Extent from NSIDC in Google EarthThe National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is part of the University of Colorado and affiliated with NOAA. Last April the NSIDC released a Google Earth collection showing examples of glacier melting by showing the locations in GE along with photographic pairs from years ago compared to today. With the increased focus on ice and the polar regions of Earth (since the start of the International Polar Year), the NSIDC has released some new GE content. They have a page dedicated to GE content on snow and ice, and a “Featured Data” section. One of the featured content collections shows the sea ice growing and shrinking over time for both poles.
Download the Sea Ice file , and you will immediately see an “animation” showing the ice extent around the poles during the month of September from 1979 through 2006. A purple line shows the median extent of ice for this time period. If you look at the NSIDC folder under Temporary Places after you load it, you can turn off the “September Arctic Minimum” and turn on the “March Arctic Maximum“, or the “Monthly Sea Ice Extent“. Also featured is a collection showing the locations of glaciers and photographs of more than 3,000 glaciers, 1880s-present. Download the photograph collection here .
From a technical perspective, I was curious to note the NSIDC chose to implement the time animations for the “Sea Ice” collection without using the built-in GE 4 time animation feature. Instead, they use a refreshing KML technique and load a different image every 3 seconds from their server. I guess they wanted to support GE 3 users as well. I’m not sure when this new content was added by the NSIDC, but I found out about it via OgleEarth.

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. Dr.Moosa PhD says:

    It would be great blessing of google erath if Image of Siachen glacier may be posted at thier web site.
    Google please do it. it would be great service

  2. John E. Bailey says:

    NSIDC’s KML datasets are the work of a group of researchers. The most recent innovations were presented by Ross Swick and Lisa Ballagh in our Virtual Globes sessions at AGU last December.
    Lisa was also recently appointed NSIDC’s “Virtual Globes Coordinator”, and a couple of weeks ago updated their Google Earth webpages in time for the start of IPY. The NSIDC are very keen to receive feedback about their GE files – contact details can be found on their website.

  3. Since GEarth now shows no polar ice over the North Pole, perhaps it is a good time to show those rising sea levels, too, just to keep all the liquid on the planet accounted for. And while you are at it, please show the snow cover in western Ohio which has not melted off since it fell the first week of December. We now have 11″ of new snow. Only a communist would take a tool like Google Earth and try to use it to convince the public of some idiotic impending climate catastrophe. Just the facts.

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