Shaded Relief Map for Google Earth

GEB reader Jiro Shirota wrote to say he has completed a dynamic KML which shows Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model in a shaded relief format for the Earth. He had previously released one for just North America back in 2007. The new global shaded relief map shows gray-colored shaded terrain. It’s a more visible way to look at terrain of our planet making it very apparent where the mountains and canyon geography exists. As you zoom in closer, higher resolution versions of the map are loaded automatically.

Shaded Relief Terrain in Google Earth

From Jiro’s website:

This project is now managed by Caracle Creek International Consulting (CCIC) Inc. The new version of the shaded relief layer for Google Earth is now complete. This version covers the entire SRTM dataset (80% of the land on the Earth). It is based on the SRTM V2 product. A new “fill” algorithm was developed at CCIC, which significantly improved the cartographic quality of the layer without compromising the accuracy.


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. Similarly, there are ways to have the standard Google Maps “Terrain” (as well as the Maps and Labelmaps data) dynamically overlayed into Google Earth, which of course is a shaded relief as well. (I’m reluctant to link to it, since such services are privately offered by peole as network link interfaces via their own websites.) I’ve always thought this is a great and very useful feature which should be readily built into GE right away, and I wish this was possible with other online sources as well. I know of the USGS topo and 1m satellite pictures overlays out there, but having -say- MS Live Maps in GE too would be neat. On a related note, since USGS data is essentially in the public domain, I’ve always wondered why Google doesn’t host that material themselves and offered it via a regular GE layer of their own.

  2. @Markus: Good point! I just updated the story to include links to other relevant posts including a way to show Google Maps terrain data as overlays in Google Earth, and the USGS Topographical Maps.

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