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The 10 best Google Earth add-ons

Get more than just satellite imagery

Improve your Google Earth experience with by downloading any of a number of user-created mash-ups. We've rounded up the 10 best Google Earth add-ons that will help you see maps from centuries past or even take a virtual cruise.

Thar she blows

Have you ever noticed how weather reports for where you live always seem to be completely wrong? That's particularly problematic when the forces of nature threaten to have devastating effects. So in the true spirit of the web, a Google Earth forums user known as 'glooton' created a potentially lifesaving link that lets you check for yourself how the weather might affect you. The data displayed in Google Earth tracks the paths and positions of every major storm and hurricane across the entire planet. The data updates every 10 minutes, and enables anyone with a PC to be his or her own personal meteorologist.

Millions of photos put in place

Now that some cameras (such as Nikon's new Coolpix P6000) have built-in GPS that automatically captures data about where exactly a photo was taken, you can use one in conjunction with Google Earth and other tools to start building an entire world full of images.

Google Earth incorporates several different ways to explore traditional 'ground level' photographs of the world. But the people at Metal Toad Media have taken the entire catalogue of the Flickr photo-sharing site and implemented it as a Google Earth-compatible feed. You can see user-uploaded images of the Grand Canyon, for instance, that will have you virtually standing on the edge of a precipice. In August, Flickr boasted an incredible '3.2 million things geotagged this month', so adding its content to Google Earth brings a vast assortment of images from areas you might wish to explore.

See global warming in action

One of the most difficult challenges climatologists face is convincing some people that the problem of global warming exists. Climate data can be hard to visualise, and for many people data tables fail to communicate the scale of the problem. One solution is to use Google Earth to display data in a way that is easier to understand: The National Snow and Ice Data Center has created Google Earth files for a series of animations that represents the Arctic ice as it naturally melts over the summer months. Updated daily, they let you view the sea-ice concentrations and extent for the previous 90 days; when you compare data for this summer with the data for every summer going all the way back to 1979, you see some startling changes.

NEXT PAGE: Your city in 3D

  1. Get more than just satellite imagery
  2. Follow that plane and take a virtual cruise
  3. Do you own weather forecast and see global warming in action
  4. Your city in 3D

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