New Imagery Update – Not all good news

[UPDATE 9-June 2100 ET: Google has released details on this imagery/terrain update. As usual, GEB readers did a great job at finding places with new imagery. The only terrain added this time was for the state of Indiana.]
Google has quietly released a new imagery update for Google Earth. The first report came from GEB reader Martin F. followed quickly by GEB reader Alok P. Martin found some spots in France in the department Gard, and Normandy (Omaha Beach). Alok noticed a very recent GeoEye image (May 18, 2009) for Akola, Maharashta, India. [Correction First report was from GEB reader Alsay who left comments to yesterday’s drought post.] I guess we’re going to see more of this more recent satellite imagery. I’m wondering how much there is in this update?
The new imagery only appears in Google Earth at the moment. Google Maps is still showing what was current before today. So, you can click on the “View in Google Maps” button in the top center of GE to compare the current GE imagery to yesterday’s – this way you know whether it is new. If you find new imagery, please leave a comment to this post and I’ll update the list. I may not have time to verify all inputs, but hopefully those leaving comments will use the method above to verify before leaving comments.
Updates noticed so far [UPDATED 2042 ET]:

  • Saudi Arabia – Makkah thanks Alsay

  • Afghanistan – large areas with medium resolution Spot Image – thanks Alsay

  • France – Department of Gard, Normandy (Omaha Beach). Also: departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. – Thanks ‘mortimer’; Also: Oise,
    Haute-Loire – Thanks ‘jib’

  • India – Akola, Maharashta, Sirur, Chinchosi, Kon Goan, Utran, and other areas in the northwest. Thanks Alok.

  • US – New colorization (see notes below); Tampa, Florida (Thanks ‘unkj’); Puerto Rico

  • Egypt – Gaza Pyramids – Thanks Ernie. (Try to ignore the current ugly 3D models for the pyramids, they’ll be replaced I’m told). Also, western half of Egypt has medium resolution Spot Image. Thanks Alsay.

  • Canada – Surrey, BC – thanks Daniel. Also: Québec / Bas-Saint-Laurent: Saint-Fabien
    and Mont-Joli and in Gaspésie: Métis-sur-Mer, Sainte-Flavie. Note: “BIG mistake fron GE team, the Rimouski region (Québec) is marked
    “Haute-Côte-Nord” (Upper North Coast)the Upper North Coast is located
    where the Saguenay River flows into it…” – Thanks to Henry Willox.

  • Thailand – Prachuap Khiri Khan province, along the
    boundary to Myanmar. – Thanks Andy. Chiang Khong – Thanks Pete

  • China – Hong Kong, Kowloon, Fuzhou – Thanks ‘unkj’

  • Japan – Mount Fuji – Thanks ‘unkj’.

  • Iran – Spot Image – thanks Thilo

  • Pakistan – Spot Image – thanks Thilo

  • Austria – Vienna – Thanks Ernst

  • Italy – Venice, Pisa (reportedly very high resolution) – Thanks Karl

  • Luxemborg – Southwestern part – Thanks Karl

  • Spain – Northern part around Costa Brava – Thanks Karl

  • Cambodia – Kampot & Kep – Thanks Pete

  • Tajikistan – Eastern half

Bad colors in Google EarthWhat I’ve noticed so far doesn’t make me too happy. Google for a while now (see New color imagery for Australia December 2008) has been re-colorizing imagery to make the Earth look more consistent from space (instead of all the different colored strips of satellite imagery). This time, I think they’ve gone too far. The western US has been re-colored and is too dark and too green in some places. I noticed this particularly in and around Tucson where I just recently went backpacking and touring around. I was just about to publish today some GPS tracks and photos of the area, but I’m too mad at the moment. The Tucson mountains are NOT green. And Mt. Hopkins is so dark you can’t even see the trails.

The images to the right (click for larger) are examples of what I’m talking about: The top photo shows how the southwest US now looks from space. The two lower photos show the mountains I was climbing last month – the first one is the new darker green, and the bottom one is what it looked like yesterday (much more like real life). Notice Mt. Hopkins on the left, Google even colored the roads and buildings (observatories) green. Yuck!
Of course, you can still turn back the clock with “Historical Imagery” and see the previous imagery. So, all is not lost. But, degrading the imagery and making it look false on the ground in the base imagery is not a good thing in my opinion.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. some MAJOR recoloring was done around the northeastern united states.

  2. The Gaza Pyramids have updated imagery.

  3. mortimer says

    Departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais, France, have been also updated.

  4. New high res imagery for Surrey, BC finally, and its current (shows city provided)!

  5. Tampa, Florida….. in the west of Miami-Dade county there is also some new imagery ………

  6. Also Hong Kong, Kowloon, Fuzhou (china)has new update….Mount Fuji Japan…and Gaza Pyramids

  7. Other French Departments with updated imagery:

  8. “New imagery” (from 2006) in Québec / Bas-Saint-Laurent: Saint-Fabien and Mont-Joli and in Gaspésie: Métis-sur-Mer, Sainte-Flavie
    and a BIG mistake fron GE team, the Rimouski region (Québec) is marked “Haute-Côte-Nord” (Upper North Coast)the Upper North Coast is located where the Saguenay River flows into it….

  9. “New imagery” (from 2002) for Cacouna (Québec, Bas-Saint-Laurent)

  10. In Thailand it has new hires in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, along the boundary to Myanmar.

  11. Department of Loiret, France, has been updated as well.

  12. Wow, that color looks terrible. What did they match to, Blue Marble?

  13. CNES/Spot coverage for Iran, Pakistan

  14. Ernst M. Kofler says

    Austria: Vienna – new imagery for wide parts of the whole city. Also hires and spot image for previously low res areas south of Vienna. Some new tiles in Styria north of Graz and the famous Erzberg. New image of St. Pölten. Tyrol: Very good imagery around Innsbruck. Salzburg showing extremely high resolution!

  15. Fromage. says

    In France, departments of Puy-de-Dôme, Nièvre, Loir-et-Cher, Finistère, Côtes-d’Armor, Calvados, Seine-maritime, Oise, Corrèze, Dordogne, Charente, Cantal, Haute-Loire, Orne, Loiret, Côte-d’Or, Cher… Perhaps more

  16. Luxembourg: south-western part of the country (around Esch-sur-Alzette)
    Spain: northern part of Costa Brava (nort-east coast near the french border around Roses, very high resolution)
    Italy: Venice, Pisa (very high resolution)

  17. North-western Laos
    Chiang Khong, Thailand (on border with Huay Xai, Loas)
    Parts of Kampot & Kep, southern Cambodia.

  18. The state of Ohio, US has been updated. Some of the imagery is slightly older, but much better resolution.

  19. That green is just plain ugly! I spend a lot of time lately around Mount Saint Helens in Google Earth and although the tiles were visible, things looked natural. Now everything has this weird unnatural green sheen over it. Luckily they did avoid painting the vulcano green. I applaud attempts to reduce the tile effect but this is not the way.

  20. smokeonit says

    Frank: i agree on the colorizing…!
    if it’s done in a good way that the details are highlighted, then it’s ok, but if those details suffer it’s definitely a huge bummer!!!

  21. Please remove Maine-et-Loire from the list of French departments with new imagery

  22. Western part of Ukraine. I checked Rohatyn town to see differences between Google Earth and Google Maps.

  23. Thinking back, the map recoloring (and/or contrast enhancement) has been going on since at least 2007, more likely 2006, although the idea then seemed to have been to bring out detail in low-contrast imagery. This current “recoloring to remove stripes in wide-angle low-res views” is indeed a rather new practice, and even uglier.
    What’s also “new” -and a bit puzzling to me- is how there are some areas where the default imagery is of a standard low-res “2000” vintage, but if you check the Historical Imagery option, you find there is significantly newer and better imagery available. I’m not sure what’s up with that, I can only imagine this is imagery that maybe isn’t fully integrated yet and that’s meant to be officially released at a later date.

  24. USA: Pensacola, FL has new imagery. All of those blue tarps on rooftops from hurricane Ivan are gone now.

  25. New Zealand, North Island: Coromandel Peninsula has gotten some updates. There are high resolution areas, such as around Thames, that were not updated, but all of the land other than those has been changed to a single new image source.

  26. Milwaukee, WI has been updated. The imagery has been available for awhile in the “historical” but was finally put live on the base.

  27. Egypt: Alexandria was also updated.
    Italy: La Spezia and Brindisi were updated. Part of Taranto was also updated, but it was only one tile that partially covers the city.

  28. USA:
    Illinois, Champaign County is now 100% filled.
    Ohio, many areas, primarily in the north, received new imagery and not just colorization changes. The entire State is now at least at a medium resolution.
    There is a massive update in what looks like an attempt to image the entire Amazon river. There are a whole series of image stripes covering a large portion of the river greater than 300 miles to the west of Manaus and extending towards the Atlantic. There are many gaps, but a considerable amount of the river is now covered.

  29. The Amazon area of Brazil wasn’t updated. I failed to zoom Google Maps in far enough to get the imagery to load was the problem.

  30. I agree, big mistake with the recoloring.

  31. USA: Virginia, Newport News and Portsmouth have gone back to the imagery prior to the last update for most of the area. Part of the reserve fleet is older imagery, as is the Northrop Grumman shipyard and the US Navy base. Going north to Langley AFB, the imagery returns to the imagery that was added in the previous update.

  32. I think parts of Africa:
    * Gambia – Banjul (09.05.2009)
    * Sengal – Dakar (23.04.2009 + 09.05.2009)
    have new imagery

  33. Stripes in NW Afrika,
    around: Diourbel, Bambey, Nouakchott

  34. Venice (and near cities Mestre, Marghera and Tessera, with the airport) have really high res images taken, as I can see, in second half of year 2007. Also half of little Zelarino city got new imagery. Highlights: Calatrava tower at Venice (not yet open at that time) and the new Mestre’s hospital “Ospedale dell’Angelo”, not completed at that time but more advanced than in MSN Live Maps images.

  35. It’s Luxembourg, not Luxemborg. At least till they get assimilated! 😉

  36. Sebastian says

    I’m not absolutely sure, but I think the imagery in the north-western past of Vancouver, BC (i.e. West Vancouver, Horshoe Bay…) has also been updated (aside from Surrey).
    You can now see the roadworks on the Sea To Sky Highway near the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal and I think that wasn’t the case before. Any local people around here?

  37. Hafeez Ullah Khan says

    Iraq Entire Country Spot Image.

  38. Concerning the new imagery in the Québec / Bas-Saint-Laurent region, these high-res imagery where already there at least since October 14, 2008.
    See this post where I keep score of the region with HR imagery in the province of Québec :
    There are (unfortunately) no high-res imagery added in the province with this update.

  39. Jay Poucher says

    There is updated imagery in the northwestern part of Richland County – Columbia, SC; particularly in Irmo area. Still quite dated but updated nonetheless.

  40. UK – no apparent changes, although last month’s updates in Englans have not been fully identified anywhere, unlike the department updates in France.
    FRANCE – a second large tranche of high res is very welcome, just a shame that more of the beautiful very high res images in selected parts of France have not appeared.

  41. I seem to remember you suggested a long time ago that they make the zoomed out view ‘consistent’ using NASA public data and leave the zoomed in view stripy. Still seems very sensible to me and would be easy to implement.
    I’ve just been writing a tutorial and put it a section ‘ignore the stripyness’. Now I have to go it and edit it out again 🙁

  42. Alang, India – shipbreakers beach updated… at least the southwest portion. C’mon GE – can’t we get the upper half also ?? Pretty sharp – looks like last month !

  43. City of Gothenburg , Sweden has been updated. New images seems to be same resolution, only more reacent. Might be answer to #5 clue on lat/long blog.

  44. What I want to know is why large swaths of Montana have just been DOWNGRADED in Google MAPS?!
    Individual houses used to be visible here.,-95.712891&sspn=33.693808,56.601563&ie=UTF8&ll=48.409292,-106.531935&spn=0.006937,0.013819&t=h&z=16&iwloc=A
    (… if that link is too long… or “breaks”)
    or St. Marie, Montana for search.
    Thanks for any good answers.
    (and yes I know that town was a former US AFB but it imagery for hundreds of square miles around has been put back to lower resolution as well.
    Was it a mistake?

  45. Martin Chabot says

    Wonder why there is no high-resolution imagery yet for the region of Mont-Tremblant in the Laurentides region of the province of Québec, Canada. (North-West of Montréal)
    So much development has been going on in this region over the last 15 years that I think you should have a serious look at it…
    Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

  46. Brazil new update:
    São Paulo metropolitan area
    Rio de Janeiro

  47. The image over Oderzo (Italy) was updated, but the new image is much poor and older than the previous…

  48. Tomi Rantala says

    I am still looking Finland to be updated. Only Helsinki has high resolution areas. Microsoft´s version (can´t remember the name now) has updated Finland long time ago

  49. YourUncle says

    maybe one of these milleniums they will update the imagery in and around the new Mets and Yankees stadiums (in Queens and Bronx, NY), they’ve only been under construction for 3 years. Shea Stadium is already torn down for crying out loud. But I don’t wanna sound bitter, I love GoogleEarth 🙂

  50. Please update the image in Sarawak, Malaysia because some of the major towns images are too old. Many things changed in a 5 year time. Please act Google Earth. Thank you.

  51. Dave Carrara says

    I for one am really disappointed in the latest Google earth imagery. In the southeast and southwest areas of Florida in particular the Flamingo everglades national park area and Florida bay the resolution is poor at best. Looks like the images where taken sometime around 10:00 am east coat time. I wonder if they will change it. How often does Google earth up date the images?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.