On 2 February 2012, Google Earth announced a major update to the underwater terrain dataset used to show the ocean topography. The update covers seafloor topography from all over the globe and reveals the most accurate 3D view of the ocean seafloor to date.
The Google Earth dataset used the SRTM30_Plus V7.0, a 30 arcsec-resolution (about 1 km) grid developed by David Sandwell at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. This grid, or digital elevation model (DEM), utilised shipboard depth soundings collected from all over the world and contributed by a large number of institutions.
Through our collaboration with David Sandwell in the development of the gbr100 grid, a new high-resolution bathymetry grid for the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea, the cleaned depth data for this area were also provided for the SRTM30_Plus V7.0 grid.
So now the updated Google Earth ocean terrain shows a major improvement for the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea undersea terrain, compared to the previous version of Google Earth. By selecting View > Historical Imagery, you can see the difference in the before and after seabed terrain data. The new data removes much of the anomalous roughness and bumps found in the old seafloor terrain.
We are proud to be part of the effort to improve the visualisation of the ocean for everyone.