How to create your own 3D visualization of the earth

Europe Showcase

In the Croatia Showcase we outlined how topographic maps and terrain visualizations can be made from freely available hi-resolution data.

In this show case we are going to take it a level higher. We are going to create and visualize entire Europe in 3D with the same freely available data.

Getting the Elevation Data

For Europe the SRTM tiles 30–42×1–7 apply. We download those from the geo-spatial mirror “Schorsch”.


That’s about 4GB of elevation data.

To close gaps we also use the GTOPO30 terrain data as back drop. For Europe the GTOPO30 tiles W20-E20xN40-N90 apply:


To add bathymetry for the atlantic ocean we use the gravimetric Smith&Sandwell data. For Europe the S&S tiles A2–3 apply:


Getting the Satellite Data

As outlined the the Open Satellite Data Project we need to preprocess the Landsat satellite data to yield true-color imagery. For Europe the preprocessed Landsat paths 190–210×10–50 apply:


That’s more than 500GB of imagery data.

Resampling the Data

To produce a visualization of Europe, we need to resample the data and create a tileset that can be paged in and out. To bring down the amount of data and the corresponding resampling time, we do not use the complete set of Landsat images in the first place, but for testing we start with Landsat paths 192–193×24–27 and SRTM paths 30–42×1–7.

to be continued…