Google Earth and Google Maps are ideal to help learn about issues in geography. On this map are a few points that we will use for discussion today.
Download the kml file to open these points in Google Earth.
Talk about people who need a map. Two french tourists (Guillaume Combot and Enora Nedelec) are in the middle of a three-year hike from Cape Town, South Africa to Paris. They are now near Khartoum Sudan. Check out their web site here. (It is in French, but there is an english version, which looks like a machine translation.)
They must have access to computers as they are posting updates and photos. There are also some videos. There is a fascinating one showing how Guillaume cut pieces from a water bottle to reinforce his crumbling sneakers.
I hope they write a book or make a documentary film of this adventure. In addition to all the other adventures they are having, I am curious how they are navigating. Do they use a GPS? Are they using road maps? I know from experience that good road maps are hard to come by and are expensive in many African countries. This is an adventure I definitely want to keep an eye on.
In yesterday’s lab we visited several sites to compare today’s ground cover with that of the aerial photos. Given that the photos were taken in 1977, there have been significant changes in the vegetation since then. Each of the map markers has photos of the sites today. Some details of the stops follow:
- Waynesboro Dam Using the dam and reservoir it is easy to orient the photo. The clearcut to the northeast stands out.
- Buffer Strip / Harvest Border The pole-sized stand that has grown from the clearcut is clearly visible today. The straight logging trail is still visible today. The buffer strip has continued growing. Today gaps have developed in the stand as trees have died.
- Pipeline Climbing east from Old Forge Rd on the pipeline the harvest block on the west side of the road is clearly still visible today.
- Golf Course The golf course and the adjacent Ralph Brock Seed Orchard combine to make unique landmarks. The golf course has been maintained in the same condition for many years.
- Mont Alto State Park The pavilion in the Mont Alto State Park stands out on the ground, but is harder to see from an aerial photo. Parts of it are overtopped by nearby trees. The dark green color of the roof make it harder to see on a black and white photo.
For the last two sites visited more detail can be seen on the larger scale photos than on the smaller scale photos. The hilly nature of the landscape can’t be easily seen on the aerial photos. With stereoscopic viewing the landscape will pop out.
Click here to see the sites on Microsoft Bing Maps. Bing Maps has different imagery and very detailed birds’ eye views for this area.
Did you ever wonder who made and verified the road maps used in Map Quest, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Bing Maps, and every other mapping service? One company, Tele Atlas, has a fleet of cars roaming the world to record the road data. They sell this data to all the other services. According to this article on CNN, the company is planning a number of new developments, including 3-D maps and more 360 degree map photos. They have a job that will never end given all the road construction and changes going on.
I found this You tube video that explains how to create a map in Google Maps. It is pretty fast, so don’t hesitate to rewind it to watch parts over.
I saw in the Google LatLong blog yesterday that Google has added contour lines to the terrain view. This capability was added by this link to the blog posting. Here is a map I made of Mount Washington in New Hampshire:
Mount Washington is the highest point on the east coast of the USA. I am not sure how they select the contour interval. It seems to be 40 feet. Here is another map of the Waynesboro Reservoir:
This one also seems to have a 40 foot interval, too. It will be interesting to check other regions, such as the Rockies. I do like the effect of contours and shading to show elevation. This is a great option. It turns the online maps into much more of a professional tool.