In a previous post I wrote about a project that got away from me… the creation of In this post I inferred that I wanted a Google Earth layer package where my students could easily explore and create understandings/connections between physical and human systems. Over the past several months, at many professional development events, I have heard teachers tell me it would be cool if Google Maps/Earth had a layer that visualized this or that spatial distribution. While does not have every layer these professionals requested, it does have a foundational set of maps/layers that are easily comparable for k-12 students. These map layers were chosen because thy are either in my own curriculum or discussed often in k – 12 classrooms. There are over 140 maps/layers across 21 categories in and I have spent countless hours trying to find a menu system and organization that makes it easier for teachers and students to find what they are looking for. Unfortunately, I feel this is one of the weaknesses of In order to maximize the visual space of two maps, selecting map data sets takes 3 to 5 clicks. Most of this is due to my limited knowledge in design and JavaScript, but hey…I am a high school teacher and not a professional web designer. At any rate, below is a how to select maps and layers in along with a list and short (5 – 30 second) video of each map data set. So, in less than 10 minutes you can discover what free data is already out in’s cosmos.

**Caution…potential rabbit hole of spatial distributions and comparisons below**

How to select maps and get map information in (3 minute video)

Physical Geography Layers

Blue Marble: No clouds/ice, January – December

Physical Maps: Natural Earth, NOAA Physical Map, NOAA DEM, Topographic NASA, World Topo-Bathy

Plate Tectonics: Seafloor Age, NOAA DEM, Tsunami Events from 2000BC, World Topo-Bathy, Volcanoes

Climate: Climate Regions, NOAA DEM, Wind Currents, Ocean Currents, El Nino Sea Temperature Anomaly, La Nina Temperature Anomaly, Summer Impacts El Nino, Winter Impacts El Nino, Summer Impacts La Nina, Winter Impacts La Nina

Precipitable Water: January – December

Land Temperature: January – December

Sea Surface Temperature: January – December

Land Cover: Land Cover

Vegetation Index: January – December

Carbon Dioxide: January – December

Oceans: Average Sea Surface Temp., Sea Surface Salinity, Sea Surface Density, Ocean Currents

Forest Change: Forest Extent, Forest Loss, Forest Gain, Forest Gain/Loss

Human Geography Layers

CIA Factbook (January 2016): CIA Factbook – Quick reference of many indicators

Historic Maps: 1492 – Behaim , 1544 – Agnese, 1570 – Ortelius, 1589 – Jode, 1595 – Hondius, 1630 – Hondius, 1670 – de Wit, 1691 – Sanson, 1720 – de l’Isle, 1744 – Bowen, 1786 – Faden, 1794 – Dunn

Geography-Land: Area, Arable Land, Cropland, Pastureland, Food vs. Feed

Demographics: Total Population, Growth Rate, Total Fertility Rate, Birth Rate, Death Rate, Net Migration, Infant Mortality Rate, Life Expectancy, % Urban, Total Literacy, Predominant Religion by country

Economy: GDP (Per Capita), % Agricultural Labor, Exports, Imports, Oil Exports, Oil Imports, Petroleum Consumption

Earth at Night: Earth at Night 2002, Earth at Night 2012

Anthropocene (Hold “Ctrl” + click to select two layers): Anthropocene (ALL), City Lights Base Maps, Air Traffic, Shipping Traffic, Roads, Transmission lines

Human Development: 2013 HDI, 2000 HDI, 1990 HDI, 1980 HDI