My Google Map Blog

Tag: fire

The Fort McMurray Wildfire

by Timothy Whitehead on May.16, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

On May 1, 2016, a wildfire started near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. On May 3, According to Wikipedia, it swept through the community, destroying more than 2,900 homes and buildings and forcing the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history.

Google Earth does not yet have any imagery of the event, but various imagery providers have captured and shared imagery.

Terra Bella
Google’s Terra Bella (formerly Skybox Imaging) captured the event and the imagery has been shared via this map on Google Crisis Response.


Google Crisis Response page for the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Be sure to check the layers for different dates.

You can download Terra Bella imagery here. It is shared with the CC-BY-SA which allows you to do what you like with it on condition you give appropriate attribution.

before
after

May 3rd and May 5th, Beacon Hill, Fort McMurray. Terra Bella imagery.

To see the above images in Google Earth download this KML file.

Planet Labs
Planet Labs has captured imagery of the event. Read more about it on their blog. There are a number of ways to download the imagery. We chose to download the three zip files from this page totalling 4 Gb. Each zip file contains a number of tiles, which can be drag and dropped into Google Earth Pro with ease.


Planet Labs imagery showing Fort McMurray on May 6th, 2016.

For a low resolution version of the May 6th imagery from Planet Labs download this KML file (17 Mb).

Airbus Defence & Space
Airbus Defence & Space has an image in its gallery here, which it says was captured by the SPOT 6 or SPOT 7 satellite. You can download it from that page to put into a Google Earth overlay. However, it does not cover Fort McMurray itself and is about 20 km to the east.

Global News has this article which features more Airbus Defence & Space imagery, this time captured by the Pleiades satellites.

DigitalGlobe
DigitalGlobe has captured some false colour imagery, which is featured, with before and after comparisons, in this article and on the DigitalGlobe blog

Landsat
The Wikipedia page on the wildfire features a Landsat 7 image showing the characteristic stripes we talked about last week.

Landsat 8 has an image captured on May 15th that clearly shows the burn scar.

Landsat 8 image showing the burn scar.

To see it in Google Earth download this KML file (low resolution and cropped).

The post The Fort McMurray Wildfire appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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Google Earth Imagery update – April 2016

by Timothy Whitehead on Apr.22, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Google has pushed out yet another imagery update, the third this month. The last one included imagery up to April 5th, 2016 and the one before that included up to March 2016. The current one has imagery up to April 11th, 2016, but it also includes a lot of imagery from previous months.


Blue: existing April imagery. Red: fresh April imagery.

To see the map of April imagery in Google Earth download this KML file.

We have only created a map for April imagery so far. It takes up to 24 hours to create a map for a given month, especially when there is a lot of imagery.

On December 20th, 2015, a landslide of construction waste occurred at Shenzhen, China. It toppled and buried a number of buildings, including some workers’ living quarters. The Google Earth image is from February 4th, 2015, so it doesn’t show the immediate aftermath of the disaster. However, we can get an idea of the scale of the disaster from the imagery. For ground level photos taken soon after the disaster see this article.

before
after

Landslide, Shenzhen, China. Slide the divider to compare before and after images.

On January 7th, 2016, a bush fire raged through the small town of Yarloop, Western Australia, destroying 121 homes and much of the town’s other infrastructure. There are now two images in Google Earth from after the fire, one from February and one from April.

before
after

Bushfire, Yarloop, Western Australia. Slide the divider to compare before and after images.

For much higher resolution before and after imagery not found in Google Earth see this website.

To see the above locations in Google Earth download this KML file.

Do let us know if you find any other interesting locations in the imagery.

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What’s that Image: Fire, Flood and Mud

by Timothy Whitehead on Mar.21, 2016, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

Today we are having a look at some of the interesting imagery we have been able to find in the latest Google Earth imagery update.

In November last year there were a number of bush fires in South Australia. The imagery below shows the burn marks of one of those fires.

before
after

Drag the divider left and right to see the before and after images of a fire in South Australia.

December last year saw major floods in South America, including Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. One of the cities that were hit hard was Asunción, the capital of Paraguay. They had already experienced floods in July, 2015, which we have looked at before. Judging by the imagery available, the December flooding was worse.


Flooding in Asunción, Paraguay

Be sure to explore the imagery in Google Earth. By January 20th, 2016 the flood waters appeared to have subsided a little, but the area above was still flooded. There is a problem with the imagery for the area, with Google Earth sometimes switching to the January image as you zoom in, even if the time slider is set to a December date.

On November 5th, 2015, Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, was inundated in toxic sludge after a mine dam burst. We had a look at the imagery of the site in January. At the time we were able to follow the mud a little way downstream. More imagery further downstream has now been released, including some images of the mud entering the Atlantic Ocean.

To see the locations featured in this post in Google Earth download this KML file.

The post What’s that Image: Fire, Flood and Mud appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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Tracking wild fires in Google Earth

by Timothy Whitehead on Sep.24, 2015, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

It is fire season in the western states of the US and one recent fire in California has been named the fourth most destructive in California’s history. US president Obama has declared it a major disaster.

  • We have looked at a number of resources for tracking wild fires in the past. The best ones include:

  • The US Department of Agriculture Forest Service provides a variety of fire information via KMLs. To get all the data at once download this KML.

  • One of the sources of data used is NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) whose data can be obtained directly from NASA via this web page. NASA provides MODIS data for the whole globe. You can get fire data for a particular region of the earth, or download KMLs with data for the whole globe. Keep in mind that the the global ones are quite big and may cause performance issues in Google Earth.

The Californian government provides a website called CAL FIRE which includes a lot of information about fires, including this map of wild fires in California showing the actual extents of the fires. You can view it in Google Earth with this KML file.

As far as we can tell, the most recent imagery in Google Earth is from August 18th, so we cannot currently see the damage caused by the fires. However, it is possible to download Landsat imagery and view it in Google Earth and actually see some of the land affected by the recent fires. We previously experimented with getting Landsat data into Google Earth. The method we showed you required some rather large downloads. We have since found that if quality is not an issue then the easiest way to quickly check Landsat imagery is as follows:

  • The following instructions require Google Earth Pro (which is free).
  • Start with USGS Earth Explorer. Find the location you are interested in and mark it on the map.
  • On the datasets tab, select Landsat Archive->L8 OLI/TIRS
  • Click the ‘Results’ button.
  • Choose an image closest to the date you are interested in. Ignore any night time images (almost entirely black). In our case we found one covering part of California just north of San Francisco, captured on September 20th.
  • Click the icon next to the image labelled ‘download options’.
  • Download the file labelled “LandsatLook images with Geographic Reference”.
  • Unzip the downloaded files to a folder on your computer.
  • Find the file named with just the Landsat reference number and a .jpg extension. Drag it to Google Earth Pro.
  • Google Earth Pro automatically detects where to place it and creates an image overlay for you. However, it says that the image exceeds the maximum allowed size. You can choose to either crop the image, or scale it. In our case we chose to scale it.

This is what the result looks like in Google Earth:


To view it in Google Earth you can simply download this KML file.

Comparing this with the above mentioned CAL FIRE map, we find that the two large brown patches south-east of Clear Lake almost exactly match the outlines given for Valley Fire, Jerusalem Fire and Rocky Fire.


Getting the outlines to show on top of the image overlay required adjusting their altitude to 1000m above ground.


Fires detected by MODIS in the last 24 hours in central Africa. There are actually far more fires in Africa right now than in California. Hopefully they are less devastating.

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Historical imagery captured on the same day

by Timothy Whitehead on Aug.10, 2015, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA

We have recently spent quite a lot of time looking through historical imagery and reported some of the most interesting finds from recent imagery, including:

However, one thing we noticed and found quite frustrating is that if two or more images are captured on the same day of the same area, Google Earth displays them on top of each other and it is impossible to see the ones that are ‘behind’.

In October 2014, Bermuda was hit by hurricane Gonzalo. Google Earth has four images captured on the same day, October 19th, 2014, soon after the hurricane hit. However, the uppermost image is in black and white and there is no way to see the three colour images apart from where they are not overlapped by the ones above them, which for the most part is over the sea. There are two more images on the 20th which also overlap each other, but that is less of a concern as they are of similar quality. We could not identify any evidence of storm damage in any of the images


The four overlapping images of the aftermath of hurricane Gonzalo.

In May, 2014, there was a large wildfire near Lake McClure in California, USA. Google Earth has some imagery of the region captured soon after the fire including, three images all captured on May 31st, 2014. Two of the images are black and white and one is in false colour. False colour imagery is particularly useful for identifying vegetation differences and would probably have been quite helpful in identifying the extent of the fire. Sadly, the false colour image is mostly covered by the two black and white images.


Overlapping images captured soon after the Hunters Fire.

There is also a black and white image from May 30th, and two overlapping images, one black and white and one false colour from June 1st. We think we have identified the extent of the fire by comparing more recent imagery with imagery from before the fire, as well as a bluish patch in the false colour image.

In February 2015, Australia was hit by tropical cyclone Marcia, causing flooding in many places. The Northern Territory towns of Galiwinku and Ramingining have imagery captured soon after the cyclone and again there are overlaps. However, in this case it is not so serious as the quality of the overlapped imagery is similar to the images we can see. The images are not very high resolution, but we can see clear signs of storm damage in both locations.


Ramingining, Australia. You can see trees flattened and on the roofs of houses and some water still on the ground in some places.

The reason why there is a problem with overlapping imagery is because Google dates their imagery to the nearest day. Although the Google Earth timeline is capable of distinguishing dates and times down to a minute, because the images’ date stamps are identical, Google Earth must show both at the same time. The solution would be for Google to add different times to any overlapping images that occur on the same day. It is likely that the actual time the images were captured is known by Google, but if not, a dummy time such as a few minutes after midnight could be used.

To find the locations mentioned in this post in Google Earth use this KML file.

The post Historical imagery captured on the same day appeared first on Google Earth Blog.

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Burning down the house

by Street View on Mar.11, 2010, under 3D Models, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, California, Denmark, England, Germany, Google Earth News, Google Earth Tips, Google Sky, Google maps, Hawaii, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Natural Landmarks, Netherlands, Sightseeing, Street Views, USA


The ultimate streetview image. Clueless guy in underwear coming out of a burning house. Man calmly pointing. Shirtless neighbour running towards the fire. And then the For sale sign.

View Larger Map (thanks Jennifer)

Oh, did I mention the name of the street? Water Street… Jennifer who sent this image to streetviewfun: “The best part about this is… the address that is listed as is a house we were going to look into buying.”

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