A year of imagery updates in Google Earth

As we mentioned last week, Google did at least four imagery updates in the month of April. It takes long time to do imagery update maps and since imagery updates include imagery over a number of different months it could take up to a week to do maps for the last few months. So we thought of changing our algorithm to do them all at once. This is faster overall but still takes days to complete. We also decided to do the last twelve months, since it wasn’t too much extra trouble to do so. We are not yet done with the high resolution maps, but we can give a good idea of where updates were done over the past year.

Imagery updates over the past year – May 2015 to April 2016

The above animation uses NASA’s Blue Marble images taken from the animation that Frank did back in 2006. We did not include the poles in our imagery update maps, so there may have been some imagery updates for Antarctica and northern Greenland that we have missed.

Notice how the imagery avoids the snow line in the northern hemisphere. The pattern in the tropics is not as clear as the map we did last week showing how seasonal Google Earth imagery is.

You can also see the animation in Google Earth using this KML file.

For best results:

  • adjust the timeline control so that the two parts of the slider are snapped together.
  • in the timeline control settings dialog, set the animation speed to maximum, and tick ‘loop animation’.
  • press the ‘play animation button’ on the timeline control.
  • you may have to wait for a few loops of the animation for all the images to load properly.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. Bill Bedell says:

    Wow, this is great. Thanks for putting these updates together. I will have to resist the temptation to dig through all these updates and see what’s new.

    Question: is there some way to see a summary of where full 3D (e.g., by stereophotogrammetry) is available? Lots of great new aerials in far-flung places, but it would be incredible to see the full built environment in interesting places.

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