The best of Google Earth for December 2016

Google Earth imagery updates – Fire!We noted that the ‘historical imagery’ layer has finally been updated and had a look at some wildfires in the US.

The biggest changes to Google Earth in 2016We had a look at the most significant changes to Google Earth during 2016. Thank you to GEB reader Bhaskar Phukan for pointing out that we missed mentioning that Google Map Maker is being merged with Google Maps and will be shut down in March 2017. It isn’t technically a part of Google Earth, but a lot of the map data in Google Earth came to it via Google Map Maker.

New Street View coverage 2016We had a look at the extent of new Street View coverage added during the course of 2016. We also had a look at the progress made during 2016 in new 3D imagery coverage.

Why Santa’s base remains a secretWe talked about why Santa’s base remains a secret and discussed the various reasons why Google Earth imagery in the polar regions is so poor.

Planet imagery for natural disaster responseWe had a look at satellite imaging company Planet’s new natural disaster response imagery platform.

The sinking Millennium Tower, San FranciscoWe had a look at a study using Sentinel 1 data to measure the sinking of the Millennium Tower, San Francisco.

The Google Earth Blog Santa TrackerWe ran the Google Earth Blog Santa Tracker.

Land Lines Chrome experimentWe had a look at ‘Land Lines’ a Chrome experiment that has fun with a selection of Google Earth imagery.

Street View comes to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin IslandsPuerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands got Street View.

Google Earth sinks an islandWe had a look at a sunken island caused by bad altitude data in Google Earth.

Google Earth API /plugin finally coming to an endGoogle announced that the Google Earth API / plugin will finally be shut down on January 11th, 2017.

Global surface water and historical changes mapWe had a look at a global historical water surface changes map created using Landsat imagery and Google Earth Engine.

A burnt out plane and some imagery errorsWe had a look at a burnt out plane at Dubai International Airport and also noted some imagery errors. The imagery errors have since been rectified.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-4 sees first lightWe had a look at the very first imagery from DigitalGlobe’s new satellite World View-4.

Moving sand in Landsat animationsWe had a look at desert sand being blown by the wind as seen in Landsat imagery.

Panoramio photos not showing in Google EarthWe got a scare when the Panoramio photos stopped showing properly in Google Earth. We thought that Panoramio, which is scheduled to be shut down in November 2017 had been shut down early. But it turned out to be a temporary technical glitch which was quickly resolved.

Villagers in India losing land to a changing riverWe had a look at a river in India whose course is changing significantly over time and villagers are complaining that they are losing land to residents on the other side of the river.

Animating the new Landsat/Sentinel global mosaics with a dynamic tourLast month Google added some global mosaics of Landsat and Sentinel-2 imagery to ‘historical imagery’, one for each year from 1984 to 2016. We created tools to animate the mosaics or switch between 1984 and 2016.

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. Jafar Afroozi says:

    Many thanks for your High Quality Earth images

  2. ben reuter says:

    This is google’s present for new year
    Russia got several new images in the Pacific area, i.e. at submarine base Rybachi/Kamchatka.
    Obviously they changed from DigitalGLobe to Landsat / Copernicus with the date of Dec 31st
    – What a sh.t. How can they offer such garbage?
    We have to be prepared that google earth turns down and ends up unusable

  3. ben reuter says:

    and again: Yandeks SW-Algorithm can handle the same DigitalGlobe image much better than google

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