My Google Map Blog

Tag: ocean



Low resolution images over the ocean

by Timothy Whitehead on Jun.03, 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

On April 18th, 2015 a boat carrying as many as 950 people capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. See the full story here. Soon after the disaster, DigitalGlobe captured satellite imagery of the location. We found out about this from DigitalGlobe’s First Look map. The imagery has now become available in Google Earth’s ‘historical imagery’. However, when you try to view it in Google Earth, the imagery only loads in low resolution.

We have noticed resolution problems in the past with imagery over the oceans but not given it much thought. For example, last month we looked at an oil slick captured in the aftermath of an explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. We noticed that the imagery was not particularly good but assumed it was unique to that imagery. Similarly, back in 2014 when Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 went missing and was believed to have gone down in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia, Google Earth got quite a lot of satellite imagery over the search area and we noticed at the time that much of that was of poor resolution but didn’t know why.

So what is going on? We have looked more carefully at satellite imagery over oceans around the globe and it seems that whenever it is away from land, the quality is reduced considerably. Google Earth must have a built in algorithm that stops it from loading high resolution imagery far from the land. We realise this is a good optimization to have most of the time as there usually isn’t any satellite imagery of the oceans, and in the default view, any such imagery is hidden by default. However, when there is something interesting to see, it is a major problem.

Presumably the high resolution imagery exists in Google Earth’s imagery servers. Do any of our readers know of a way to get Google Earth to load it?

To find some of the locations mentioned in this post download this KML file. For best results when viewing offshore satellite imagery, turn off the water surface effect, and if you have Google Earth Pro, turn off the ‘Terrain’ layer.

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More underwater maps to explore in Street View

by Mickey Mellen on Jun.10, 2014, 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

Back in 2012, Google released some amazing underwater Street View imagery from a few areas around the world. As part of World Oceans Day last Sunday, Google has released some additional underwater Street View imagery that is equally stunning. In partnership with the Catlin Seaview Survey, you can now dive and explore some additional locations in Belize and the Philippines including the Belize Barrier Reef and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

belize street view

From the Google Lat Long Blog:

The Catlin Seaview Survey team has documented many underwater locales around the world using their 360-degree panoramic SVII cameras, including a growing number of UNESCO Marine World Heritage Sites. We’ll continue to add this imagery to Street View in Google Maps as it’s collected. In the spirit of World Oceans Day, the goal of this project is to expose the world to the beauty of these marine habitats, and to create a scientific baseline record so that their changing health can be monitored over time.

To learn more about these new additions, check out the full article on the Lat Long Blog or explore Google’s entire collection of underwater Street View imagery at maps.google.com/ocean.

You can also check out this article from last year that discusses some of the technical hurdles that they face when working to capture this kind of imagery.

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Did Google Earth discover an underwater alien base?

by Mickey Mellen on May.20, 2014, 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

I had been ignoring this story since it’s so crazy, but it seems to be popping up more and more so I felt it was time to address it. In short, the folks at “Before It’s News” (and others) have been showing the following screenshot from Google Earth, claiming the lines in the image are from an underwater alien base.

underwater alien base

It’s very similar to the story that went around five years ago claiming that the lost city of Atlantis had been found, with similar tracks showing up on the ocean surface. Google wrote a detailed blog post explaining what it really was, which is the same case here:

The scientific explanation is a bit less exotic, but we think it’s still pretty interesting: these marks are what we call “ship tracks.” You see, it’s actually quite hard to measure the depth of the ocean. Sunlight, lasers, and other electromagnetic radiation can travel less than 100 feet below the surface, yet the typical depth in the ocean is more than two and a half miles. Sound waves are more effective. By measuring the time it takes for sound to travel from a ship to the sea floor and back, you can get an idea of how far away the sea floor is. Since this process — known as echosounding — only maps a strip of the sea floor under the ship, the maps it produces often show the path the ship took, hence the “ship tracks.” In this case, the soundings produced by a ship are also about 1% deeper than the data we have in surrounding areas — likely an error — making the tracks stand out more.

I encourage you to read the full entry on that old Lat Long Blog post if you want to really understand how this occurs. Stefan at Ogle Earth also wrote a detailed breakdown of Atlantis years ago which is worth re-reading as well.

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Mashable’s “Google Earth Tips for Power Users”

by Mickey Mellen on Jun.24, 2013, 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

Mashable recently posted an article titled “10 Google Earth Tips for Power Users” that gained quite a bit of attention.  If you read our site very often you’re likely already familiar with the tips, but it’s a good refresher nonetheless.

1 – Travel Through Time
The historical imagery tool is indeed one of my favorite features in Google Earth.

2 – Measure Long Distances
The ruler can certainly be quite useful.  Among other things, I use when trying to find new routes to run so I can get a rough estimate of the distance before I head out.

3 – Use Layers
The many layers in Google Earth are what make it so useful, and I encourage you to dig into them if you never have before.

4 – Take or Create Guided Tours
One of the best ways to tell us a story with Google Earth is by using tours, such as this awesome one from Colin Hazelhurst.

5 – Use Flight Simulator
The built-in flight simulator is certainly great, but don’t forget to check out Xavier Tassin’s awesome GEFS application.

6 – Create and View Maps
One of the core uses of Google Earth is the ability to load and save KML files, which make it so easy to share information and locations with other people.

7 – Build in 3D
While tools like SketchUp can help you to build detailed 3D models, there are some nifty tools built in to Google Earth to help you quickly create simple structures.

8 – Explore the Sea
Added as part of Google Earth 5, the 3D Ocean is an amazing feature to explore.

9 – Explore Space
Google added the Night Sky feature to Google Earth way back in 2007, and it provides a great interface to explore the stars.  They also just added a new “starry sky” background to Google Earth as part of version 7.1, greatly adding to the realism of the product.

10 – Use Google Earth Offline
The ability to use Google Earth offline can be very handy from time to time, and this post explains how to get started with it.

All in all, it’s really a pretty solid list.  Check out their full article here, then leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite power user tip is.

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Google continues to improve their ocean map

by Mickey Mellen on Jun.10, 2013, 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

In celebration of World Oceans Day this past weekend, Google offered up a sneak peek at some improvements that are coming to the ocean data in Google Earth.  Some of the examples they showed were quite impressive!

ge-ocean

Google has released major improvements to the ocean a few times in the past.  In January, 2009 they updated the aerial view of the ocean with more realistic imagery and followed that up a month later with the 3D ocean (as part of Google Earth 5) that we now enjoy.

This new data will take things even further, as Google is working with NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center and the University of Colorado CIRES program to help improve the quality of the ocean layer.  To help you dive into the new data, Google has created this KMZ tour to show you around.

(via +Google Earth)

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How underwater Street View works

by Mickey Mellen on May.17, 2013, 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

Last September we showed you the first set of amazing underwater Street View images that Google had released.  They were absolutely stunning, as you can see in the example here:

underwater-image

TechCrunch recently spoke with Google about their Ocean Street View program, and came away with some amazing insights, including:

…the cameras his team uses for this project are very different from those used by Google’s other Street View vehicles. The team had to use wider-angle lenses, for example. Google’s underwater Street View camera has three cameras on its front and takes images every three seconds. One of the cameras points downward, because that’s how images during reef surveys have traditionally been taken. The back of the scooter features a tablet that can control the cameras.

During a typical dive, the divers cover about 2km and take 3,000 to 4,000 images per camera, and the team does three dives per day, each of which lasts about an hour. In total, the team has taken about 150,000 images so far, and Vevers expects this number to grow exponentially over the next few months. In the long run, the team hopes to create diver-less systems that can stay underwater for 12 hours or more. The technology is already available, but it needs to be adapted to the kind of camera system needed for Street View.

The systems cost around $50,000 each, and they’re already testing 3D cameras to begin to capture that kind of imagery soon.

underwater-street-view

It’s quite an amazing article, and it offers some great details into how this system works.  Check out the full article, then explore our previous post on underwater Street View to visit some of these areas for yourself.

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The photorealistic atmosphere in Google Earth 7.1

by Mickey Mellen on Apr.24, 2013, 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 release of Google Earth 7.1 brought with it a number of nice enhancements, including the new starry sky, but the best-looking might just be the new experimental “photorealistic atmosphere” option, seen here:

atmosphere

(screen capture submitted by Dimitris Manias)

It looks amazing!

The new feature is still being tested and may be a bit buggy, but can be enabled on your computer right now if you go to [Tools] –> [Options] –> “Use photorealistic atmosphere rendering“.

To get a view similar to the image above, you need to do a few things.  First, of course, enable the photorealistic atmosphere.  Next, you’ll need to turn on the sun by using the [View] –> “Sun” option (or by clicking the sun icon at the top of the screen).  Lastly, to enable the sun to reflect on the water you’ll need to have the water surface enabled by going to [View] –> “Water Surface“.

Here are a few more screenshots taken using the technique above.  Wow!

02 01 04 gearth_sunset

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