Google Earth Base Imagery Enhancements

Back in January, Google updated the base layer (the layer seen at higher altitudes) of imagery of the Earth to make things more realistic, eliminating the patchwork-like appearance that Google Earth was known for.  The “pretty earth” update made an amazing difference in the overall experience when playing with Earth.  Google has now updated the imagery again and it’s quite a nice improvement!


This new update is more than just some fresh imagery, though.  Google has worked hard to make it the best they can, as explained in this post on the Google Lat Long Blog:

This stunning new imagery of the earth from space virtually eliminates clouds, includes refreshed imagery for regions of the world where high-resolution imagery is not yet available, and offers a more comprehensive and accurate view of the texture of our planet’s landscape.

Google goes on to make comparisons with NASA’s Blue Marble imagery and shows how they enhanced the Landsat 7 satellite imagery much of it is based on. To see the new imagery for yourself, simply open up Google Earth or Google Maps and zoom out to high altitude.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.


  1. That’s a very good job, a real improvement this time !

  2. Source:
    They write, that there is new imagery in Central Africa and Russia. Didn’t found it yet.


    • A lot of the new imagery only appears when you are at a moderately high altitude, depending on where you are. Not sure whether this is intentional or they missed some clouds at lower levels.

  3. Zooming in on Lake Nipigon is interesting. You go from the new base imagery to a decidedly patchwork set of older imagery, which includes a winter tile in the middle of summer. That icy rectangle has been there for years, but now it disappears higher up.

  4. I much prefer a ‘natural’ Earth with beautiful cloud systems – an iconic image from the first days of space travel – and essential of course to life on earth.

    With all the technology obviously at its disposal, I would suggest that Google should make the changing pattern of clouds from the weather layer the default image of Earth, cutting out at an appropriate eye height, which would give a constantly fascinating and telling picture to open GE. The cloudless Earth could be a optional layer.

    • Chris, you can always enable the Clouds layer, under Weather, to get them.

      • True … but a cloudless Earth is sanitised and unreal, and in my view an inferior picture of earth for the millions who open GE but will never think of enabling the cloud layer. Also, the base of the clouds, although unrealistically high at around 50km, is still low enough to impede browsing, and could be set higher if used in a default view of Earth.

        • one way or the other says:

          THE majority of GE users do not understand what having *options* mean while thinking things have to be one way or the other.

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