Google more with maps

In a recent posting to the Taxacom list, Bos Mesidov shared a new trick with Google Maps (GM).

“Google Maps is a great online tool for planning and reviewing fieldwork.
It offers zoomable road maps, the Google Earth satellite image layer and
a hill-shaded terrain map with rough-enough contour lines. Like Google
Earth, it also has Street View (where available on the ground), which
gives ground-level views of sampling areas and their access.

I've now started using Google Maps to plot specimen locality data as
they accumulate. These data are entirely private - they haven't been
uploaded to Google.

The trick is very simple: build a KML file for the locality data and put
it on a Web server to which you have access. Open Google Maps in a
browser and put the URL for the KML file into the search bar, then click
'Search Maps'.

If you've never had experience with KML: a KML file is just a text file
with the suffix '.kml'. You can build one in any text editor. Below is
the full text of a KML file which will plot 3 localities for species X -
just the localities in this case, not any metadata. Latitude and
longitude must be in decimal degree format, with the usual conventions
that lats S of the Equator are negative and longs W of Greenwich are
negative. The '0' after the long, lat is elevation, here set at ground


You can also open a .kml file on your own computer in the Google Earth
application on your own computer (Windows users: right-click the file
name in Explorer, 'Open with...' Google Earth). However, I'm finding
Google Maps faster and more useful because of the road and terrain

For a full treatment of KML, see, but
note that not all these features are supported in Google Maps.”

This made me look again to GM, while I usually only apply Google Earth (GE).
First I looking at an area recently investigated, Cerro de la Neblina massif on the Venezuelan-Brazilian border. With the satellite view (= GE) you see the area but not much details (until the data are refreshed, but these unpopulated areas are likely to be the last ones in row).


When you change to terrain, suddenly the elevation becomes clear.


A second, similar trial is an area in southern Ecuador. First the map view. Just plain roads, nothing else.


The satellite view shows that there is an interandean valley.


Only the terrain view gives much more details, also e.g. about the exposure of slopes. Indeed, useful for planning of your field trips...


Thanks Bob, for sharing this trick!