Max Patch, More People Outdoors, Respect

“After campers left garbage strewn across one of the Appalachian Trail’s most popular sites, guides, educators, and social media influencers ponder how we can do better.”

Backpacker.com: A Crowd of Campers Trashed Max Patch

 

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Low Hanging Fruit

I looked this up on the map. I see Max Patch does indeed have a road right next to it, so I guess it’s a place with a great view only a half mile walk like it said. There is a small parking lot that could hold maybe 18 cars, best guess. I bet there were lots of cars lined up on the road a long way because that is a shitload of tents there.

Max Patch from satellite view

Who Was It?

I think lots of these people just wanted to get outdoors to a neat spot and you have lots of people that either are new to camping or have car camped before in places that have toilets, trash cans, water supply, managers taking care of the campground, etc. Another article said a bunch were college students from nearby colleges where they aren’t allowed to gather currently. Maybe there are even some music festival people there since those aren’t happening this year, or just other people wanting to party. They haven’t heard of Leave No Trace or any of the usual courtesies and rules that backpackers know. I’m not sure how you get those to them besides signs at the parking lot. I think people need to have these ideas bounce around in their heads a few times before they take hold. It helps tremendously if they broadly care about the outdoors. You wouldn’t leave a bunch of trash out if you 1. cared about the outdoors a bit, and 2. had a little courtesy toward other people… respect for either as well. Some of those people probably just didn’t think. Please think next time.

It sounds like a few people did a LOT of cleanup. Well done. “Braden organized a clean-up at Max Patch Friday, but it had largely been cleaned up already by random people who saw the Facebook post and took matters into their own hands.”

More People Getting Outdoors

But anyway, the other important bit is the general increased outdoor usage this year, which makes perfect sense with the pandemic ending other stuff. So this isn’t the only place affected. I knew people thought it would happen but I hadn’t seen any numbers until now. Also I think younger generations might be showing more interest in it. Plus social media has cool outdoor scenes everywhere. I really like seeing people enjoy the outdoors. Increased usage of the outdoors can definitely have some negative consequences as well though. “As social media influencers, when we post a picture of ourselves at sunrise with that cup of coffee, we aren’t showing people what we are doing with our trash,” Braden said. “If I am going to pack it in, I am going to pack it out.”

 

Some Coniferous Trees are Deciduous. Mind blown.

I heard a tree mentioned in a Nova episode called Metasequoia or “Dawn Redwood”. The first sentence on Wikipedia’s Metasequoia page is:

Metasequoia (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), or dawn redwood, is a fast-growing deciduous tree, one of three species of conifers known as redwoods, and the sole living species in its genus.

Wait, what? Am I reading this right? I didn’t realize a tree could be both, always had those separated in my mind. I go to the deciduous page and confirm that means the leaves fall off, good, good. Then I go to the conifers page and to save time I search the page for “deciduous”. I see one mention:

In the great majority of genera the leaves are evergreen, usually remaining on the plant for several (2–40) years before falling, but five genera (Larix, Pseudolarix, Glyptostrobus, Metasequoia and Taxodium) are deciduous, shedding the leaves in autumn and leafless through the winter.

The rest of the Metasequoia article has fascinating info. It even mentions their fossils have been found as far north as Ellesmere Island in Canada in the Arctic when it was warm and tropial just as the Nova episode showed. That Nova was called “Polar Extremes” by the way, it was a hell of a show.

 

Article: Groups Want Florida To Purchase Big Cypress National Preserve Mineral Rights

Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida, USA

My first thoughts when seeing this headline were:

  1. How can Florida, or anyone, purchase mineral rights on/below National Preserve land owned by the people of the United States?
  2. No. Leave it with the federal government and the people.

But it turns out the mineral rights are currently owned by a family that is pursuing oil exploration… or at least they may own them. The mineral right ownership seems to be in dispute because the original land deal that created Big Cypress National Preserve may have specified that the mineral rights were included. I haven’t read specifics on why that isn’t clear.

Ok, so this is good, and I generally trust in and agree with whatever these conservation groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, favor. Plus, the State of Florida has a very large role to play here and I am heartened to know they are making some positive decisions. Humanity really screwed up the Everglades, and the continuing long-term restoration efforts are extremely important in my opinion. So we need to prevent drilling for oil and any other large scale disturbances. The Everglades ecosystem is very unique in large part due to its interconnected hydrological system and sheet flow. It is a treasure we should protect.

Here is the page where I first read about the January 23 letter from the National Parks Traveler.

And I will leave a quote from their letter below:

Big Cypress National Preserve plays an important role in the Greater Everglades. It comprises 720,567 acres of a water-dependent ecosystem and is the western extension of the Everglades hydrologic system. Water flows on the surface of the Preserve in marshes and sloughs and below ground through porous substrate in aquifers. Big Cypress Swamp serves as a significant aquifer recharge area to aquifers that provide drinking water to nearby communities. Notably, the Big Cypress basin provides over 40 percent of the water flowing into Everglades National Park and is a vast hydrologic network—among the least altered remaining in South Florida. The Big Cypress National Preserve also contributes to Florida’s tourism industry and related jobs. More than a million people visited Big Cypress annually from 2013 to 2016.3 Conversely, Florida oil production constitutes only a small share of Florida’s gross domestic product – less than 0.2 percent.

Silver Lake Thoughts


Highland, Illinois has a gem of a city park on the outskirts of town with Silver Lake Park, and I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up near it.

I recently had a conversation with someone who had been house shopping in the Highland area for months. He said he had wanted a house on a lake if possible and he mentioned he’d looked at a house at Silver Lake. He complained about the buffer zone around the lake, saying he couldn’t see the lake from the house. “What’s the point of having a house on a lake if you can’t see the lake from the house?” He thought they should get rid of that buffer or easement or whatever.

Wow. I grew up near Silver Lake and this idea appalled me. I knew the lake well, and if surrounded by houses, it would be ugly by comparison. So I told him that I am really glad they have that buffer. I am completely in favor of it. Thank goodness for the people that set the buffer in the first place.

Far more people use the lake than live in houses that border it! It is a very scenic natural setting, and a feather in the cap of a nice small town. Lots of people boat, kayak, fish, hunt waterfowl, use the park, and walk the trails. Some even just park there for a while to eat their lunch in the middle of a work day. Potentially anybody in the area can visit and benefit from a bit of the nature it has to offer.

A change to a lake surrounded not by trees but by houses and lawns would also appall the fishing community. Who wants to pull up their fishing boat to the back of someone’s house and back lawn? Every one of them would prefer the more natural setting.

Another lake I know comes to mind. This lake is surrounded by houses, not very scenic to me, and doesn’t seem to benefit the public at all. In fact I think the lake is private as well. A limited number of people that own houses there can have a water view and their own boat dock. As a result, when you’re on the lake, all you can see on the shore are backyards and the backs of houses. That is another way to go I guess, but it doesn’t seem to benefit anyone beyond the people that have house lots along the shore. Someone who wants to go fishing once a month either can’t or won’t want to go there. Nobody can walk a trail around part of the lake. Wildlife is far fewer because there is less for it there.

On top of that, the border around Silver Lake helps buffer the lake, which is the water supply of the city, from nearby farm runoff and sewage runoff from houses with septic tanks. Highland’s water supply has in the past had unacceptably high levels of agricultural products such as Atrazine. And with more houses going in nearby and no sanitation sewer, there will be more septic tanks leaching out into the watershed.

Silver Lake developmentA Test for the Buffer

I lived near the park and have walked the trail many times before so I received a shock when one time I came up to a spot where the forest cover opened up on one side and gave way to bare backyards and new houses. One one side of the trail was a little bit of forest and the lake, and on the other were grassy, non-forested yards. The trail experience was greatly diminished and I was a bit upset. I did not expect to be walking near yards and big houses.

At first I believed they had gone way too far with the clearing. But on second guess, they may have just cut down all the trees as far as they could against the buffer. The buffer was not sufficient. I am not a fan of those homeowners or the subdivision developer since their houses and yards are harmful to the trail experience, the buffer, and everything that goes with it.

And I worry that this will happen again. I know that development constantly clears land across the country or world, but speaking to just this specific instance, more care should be taken. The current buffer should be widened for this reason because it is definitely not wide enough. As possibly more houses are added around the lake in the years ahead and more trees are cleared, development will increasingly damage Silver Lake Trail. It will give less natural value to the people who walk it. Also, that development will likely diminish scenic views from a boat on the lake. More houses would also reduce the wildlife support the area provides. Habitat loss is a fact of human development, but we can choose to limit its effect here.

Also, Oil Spill Danger

I’ll also point out in closing here that Silver Lake is also vulnerable to an oil pipeline spill from a pipeline to the north near Silver Creek just upstream of the lake. There has been an oil spill there before in 2015.
Pipeline spills more than 4,000 gallons of oil into Highland creek
Clean up continues at site of oil spill near Highland
Oil spill threatens Highland water

BS Yellowstone Supervolcano News Headlines

I recently went on a kick reading up on Yellowstone news and information that was triggered by the story of possibly using the Yellowstone supervolcano as an energy source. After reading from various sources, I discovered something mildly disturbing and rather annoying. Volcanoes are so cool (and Yellowstone is basically the biggest, so super cool), that I guess there is a real attraction for bad news outlets to put out bad content. I won’t link some articles I found but they had some truly BS headlines. It became so annoying that I had to write another blog post about it.

Some of these sources were less reputable news outlets. Some were British tabloid-ish websites/papers sometimes called rags. It’s difficult to know any better and consider the source when you don’t know the source. And most people don’t expect that they need to have their BS-meter running all the time.

Yellowstone supervolcano news is really cool, and it seems there is a ton of interest in that nowadays, not just me 🙂 That’s great. I pretty much read to learn anything new I can about it when something new comes out. It is absolutely one of the coolest places on earth, and on top of that it’s a geological force that could cause a giant catastrophe to the US and the world. Awesome.

That combination sure does invite a lot of BS though. Here are some headlines below.

“Is the Yellowstone SUPERVOLCANO about to blow? Fears a major eruption is on the way after scientists detect a spate of tremors in the area”

Well gee, I don’t know if it’s about to blow. I guess I need to click the link and provide my eyeballs for your ad dollars. The capital letters make it sound urgent. And despite the fact the title is a question, the capital letters make it sound like it’s true. By the way, who fears a major eruption? Oh, I see, one person on Twitter.

Reading the article, just about everything there refutes the headline, and is probably legit news. So that’s good. “But experts claim this is a relatively quiet period for tremors in the area. Normally, there are 50 minor earthquakes around the volcano every week.” “They say that concerns of an eruption in the area are unfounded, and the current resurgence in activity is nothing to be concerned about.” “He said: ‘Minor earthquakes occur in the Yellowstone area 50 or more times per week, but a major eruption is not expected in the foreseeable future.'”

“Yellowstone supervolcano is showing signs of STRAIN: Experts measure subtle changes caused by magma deep beneath the surface”

oh the huge manateeOH THE STRAAAAAAIN! Oh the HUGE MANATEE!

“Fresh fears Yellowstone Supervolcano to erupt after dormant geyser spews boiling water”

Hey that was Steamboat Geyser, the tallest geyser in the world. Excellent. Yellowstone Supervolcano erupting? Nope?

“Has Yellowstone volcano STARTED erupting? Shock claims as ‘explosion’ spotted on live feed”

Wow, this one is impressive. Just stringing together “Yellowstone volcano”, “started erupting”, “explosion”, “shock”, and “live feed” deserves some sort of bad headline prize. Hah, even better, a video in the article has a title of “Unexplained object flies out of Yellowstone volcano.” Well considering this was in April, I’d say I’d probably know by now if it had “STARTED” erupting. The video didn’t really give me anything to go on. Oh yeah, and there is a second video there titled “Time traveller claims Yellowstone volcano is about to BLOW”.  Lovely.

“Yellowstone ERUPTION fears after magma plume discovered underneath supervolcano”. Wait, then just lower down it has a second headline of  “THERE are fresh fears the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt after a plume of volcanic ash was discovered underneath the volcano.” Why “THERE” is in all caps on that one is anybody’s guess.

Well which is it, magma or ash plume? Volcanic ash plumes are generally in the air, not underground. That’s because the ash isn’t actually created until a volcano erupts. A mantle plume is thought to be behind hotspots like Yellowstone. A magma plume sounds more general. All non-extinct volcanoes have magma chambers or plumes, except maybe mud volcanoes. Magma is why Yellowstone is the way it is. There is also ash everywhere basically. That’s because it has erupted several times in the past millions of years. “The data showed a “long, thin channel” where seismic waves under the Yellowstone caldera are slower, indicating the section is 600 to 800 degrees warmer than the areas surrounding it.” Ok. “And most shockingly, it is believed the plume could stretch as far as Mexico.” Now wait a minute, lol. It’s also nice of them to include 3 photos of erupting volcanoes, which of course weren’t Yellowstone. The article is thin on details.

I tried searching for other sources based on the only details there and learned there was some new evidence put out that favors a deep mantle plume being the cause of the Yellowstone hot spot (vs. an ancient subducted continental plate). Ok then, I did manage to learn something in spite of the first source.

“Yellowstone Volcano latest: 100-FOOT fissure sparks URGENT park closure”

austin-powers-dr-evil-urgent-memeWhat do you think when you read this headline? I don’t know about you, but I think the volcano has opened up and Yellowstone National Park has closed! Maybe lava or high-pressure ash will start erupting out any minute. It’s URGENT!

So what really happened? Someone discovered a large section of solid rock has separated from a cliff face. The NPS decided it threatened visitors and they closed a 20 acre portion of Grand Teton National Park. Here is the NPS closure warning.

That is a humongous difference. The headline sounds like a whole different level of urgent compared to actual events. Secondly, relating that fissure to the Yellowstone supervolcano is a stretch. I guess it could be since of course Yellowstone does account for a lot of the geological activity in the nearby area including earthquakes. But really rock breaks apart everywhere, even where there isn’t any volcanic or tectonic activity. It strikes me sort of like saying a particular butterfly in Australia caused a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Sure, that butterfly did play its role in global wind patterns…

This one was so egregious that Snopes even put out an article about the bad headlines. “For online sites looking for easy ad revenue, the topic of the Yellowstone super eruptions has been a gold mine — albeit it a factually challenged one. Any mention of Yellowstone can and will be turned into viral claims of the coming apocalypse.” –Snopes

Hey, here is another person annoyed by these crap headlines. The headline below was so bad that a volcanologist had to call out the lie.

“Yellowstone eruption IMMINENT: Supervolcano ‘anomaly’ triggers fears of volcano to blow”

They must have later updated the headline to read – “Yellowstone: experts confirm ‘anomaly’ – ‘no need for concern’ as volcano ‘on dying cycle'”. Ha. I can hear the editor’s voice now – “sorry, not sorry”. Big thanks go to the volcanologist, though it’s a bit sad that has to be done at all. I love that her Twitter tagline includes “and smiter of ludicrous volcanological rumors.”

And if you thought you were safe listening to your regular Joe Youtuber friend talk about his supervolcano thoughts, or even one of those well-polished newsy looking productions, think again 😐 I watched one that linked the recent eruption activity of Kilauea in Hawaii to recent earthquakes in Yellowstone. Come on! I guess some Youtubers also take the low road to more clicks.

youtube what if yellowstone erupted tomorrow

By the way, if you want to learn more actually true information about the Yellowstone Supervolcano, you can also find some great facts, questions and answers here at a USGS web page.

Yellowstone Supervolcano as an Energy Source?

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone overhead zoom

I came across the National Geographic article linked below not long ago and quickly learned there was a LOT of buzz around this idea. Some of the buzz came with BS headlines from less reputable news outlets, which I’ll write about in another post.

NatGeo: Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Be an Energy Source. But Should It? The national park could power the entire continental U.S. with clean energy. Here’s why it remains untapped.

I learned the trigger for these stories was a thought experiment study by a NASA engineer at JPL who was a member of the ad-hoc NASA Advisory Council on Planetary Defense. You can read the whole study in PDF form hosted on a NASA-JPL site here. The study really was a fantastic project. Though I admit I only read small portions as it is quite long and thorough. The project was really focused on defense of humanity against a disaster. However, the NatGeo article focuses on tapping a huge energy source.

As for powering the the US with cheap Yellowstone power…

Normally I am all for using technology to our advantage, but that’s a problem if it’s in conflict with public lands and a natural wonder like Yellowstone. Even if they did this just outside the park boundary, that might be too close if it’s a lot of development. Right now there are just more public lands (National Forest) and ranches around the park mostly. I think I’ve heard that wind, solar, and tide energy could also power the entire US.

Now what about preventing a supervolcanic eruption?

That’s definitely a useful idea to investigate. What if you can cool the magma chamber significantly? There is a danger then of the mantle plume moving to the side and going around the cooled magma chamber to find another way up through the crust. I doubt we have any hope to alter the large processes occurring in the Earth’s mantle, nor probably would we want to.

I have also heard (I think it was the Science Friday radio show) someone asking about the possibility of drilling down into the actual magma chamber to reduce the pressure and prevent an eruption. The geologist responded by saying anything like that would be a tiny pinprick to a magma chamber. Even if you had a ton of those, it wouldn’t make any difference in the movement of the magma.

Despite some headlines, I wouldn’t say they have actually proposed this as any kind of actionable solution. They write “we assess whether future supervolcanic eruptions could be dampened, delayed, or prevented by engineering solutions.” The study was just a rough kind of “is it possible?” thought experiment, which is great.

The more I read, the more I realize we are talking very long time scales here. Cooling the magma chamber will take forever just because it’s so big. Most actions we can undertake for the foreseeable future will really have a small impact, so a long period is required. In any case, when the times comes for us to need to do something, we will know a hell of a lot more than we do now. I say that considering what we have learned in geology in just the last 100 years. The timescales for Yellowstone eruptions are on the order of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and millions of years.

“James Hutton is often viewed as the first modern geologist. In 1785 he presented a paper entitled Theory of the Earth to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. ” –Wikipedia entry on Geology

Ok, so I amend what I said above to say 200 years instead of 100 years 🙂

The Geysers – Largest Producer of Geothermal Electricity in the World

Reading up on geothermal energy, I also came across The Geysers in Northern California. I hadn’t known about that, very cool.

“Naturally occurring steam field reservoirs below the earth’s surface are found in the Mayacamas Mountains, located north of San Francisco The Geysers, as it is known as the largest producer of geothermal electricity in the world drawing steam from than 350 wells. The Geysers border between Lake, Mendocino, and, Sonoma counties; and provide power to Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Marin, and Napa counties. Covering more than 45 square miles, commercial geothermal power has been continuously generated at The Geysers since 1960. There are 18 geothermal plants which use heat from the earth’s interior to produce electricity around the clock.”

There is a good Wikipedia page on The Geysers as well.
The-Geysers2

Google Working Through Problems in Migration of Photos from Panoramio to Maps

A very welcome and informative post from a Google employee just popped up in the Google Maps & Earth Help Forum yesterday.

“We are still working to migrate the photos of those Panoramio users who linked to their Google+ profiles. We are detangling some oversights in the transfer toolís original design and need to take our time in order to do it right. This has taken far longer than originally expected, so we sincerely appreciate your patience.

Once the migration is complete, you should see an improvement in the coverage and availability of photos in Earth, especially in out-of-the-way places. More on that below.”

(view full post and thread here)

The migration is not complete

The migration was supposed to have taken place a long time ago but it appears that problems prevented that. Recently the dismay and anger of users was definitely building. These concerns and feelings were voiced with comments to my blog posts, to the Google Maps & Earth Help Forum, and to Local Guides Connect. Users rightfully thought the planned change had occurred and their current experience was a result of that. We had no idea the planned migration had not completed. So it is great to have some signal of what was going on and that they are still working on it. There is still hope that many more photos will be saved and migrated and many more will appear for users in Maps and Earth than what we see today.

What is the current experience?

To start, a tremendous number of useful photos have been removed from the map in Google Maps and Earth with the disabling of the Panoramio photos layer. In Google Earth, tiny thumbnail images still mark the spot where those photos were located, but you can no longer open them. Google Earth’s Travis said “Although the placemark icons can still be shown on the map, the Panoramio site that hosted the actual photos has been taken down so the original pop-up balloons would show up empty if re-enabled.”

New larger circle thumbnail images mark the location of photos in the new Maps photos layer, which is meant to take the place of Panoramio in Google Earth.

In Google Maps, the Panoramio images do not show now for the most part from what I can see. I don’t see any of my old Panoramio images when searching the map. Perhaps Google disabled those because I actually thought they showed on the map previously. If disabled, I believe they would have likely done so because the images showed just a black screen when you tried to view it in larger size (more about that in this forum thread).

On the contributor side, I can see my old Panoramio images when I view my Contributions in Maps while logged in. They definitely migrated in some way at least. In this view, only those images that were snapped to a POI show a pin on the map. Others are there, but they are titled “Unknown place”. They also do not appear in my Google Album Archive. Google had stated that your Panoramio photos would be copied to your Album Archive once Panoramio is closed.

What does all this mean?

All we can do is be patient while Google sorts this out. But we should be vigilant to be sure the needed changes happen and participate where possible.

For Google Earth and Google Maps users that miss the quality images and wide coverage that the Panoramio photos layer brought – we just have to wait to see how things look once the migration is actually completed. From Travis’ post, it seems like that will bring back the much better coverage in Earth we had known before. What is unknown is how many photos will be lost and not migrated. And they do plan other improvements to the new photos layer in Earth as well. One of those might be to show photos located at where they were actually taken. For me, that is a must. And I hope for Panoramio-migrated photos, they will use the location set by the users even if the photo file itself didn’t have latitude/longitude coordinate attached in the EXIF metadata.

For geolocated photo enthusiasts that contribute photos, things are still uncertain. The only way that I know of currently to upload a photo with GPS latitude/longitude coordinates and without requiring setting a (possibly grossly inaccurate) point-of-interest is by using Google’s Street View mobile app. That only works for photospheres, not regular photos. Also, the method of viewing your contributed photos is still just plain terrible with a single column and infinite-scroll. That’s coupled with a map that shows pins only at POIs, and only shows pins for those photos you have infinite-scrolled far enough to pass.

“Why won’t all the Panoramio photos be migrated?

Many of you are concerned about the loss of the incredible, global Panoramio dataset and have asked why all of the photos can’t be preserved, the simple answer is that we are respecting the privacy and ownership of the original photographers.

We are migrating the photos of those Panoramio users who agreed to link to their Google+ accounts and share their photos with Google Maps. This allows us to attribute their photos using the G+ profile name they chose for making posts. This link is important because we can’t preserve the old Panoramio nicknames/pseudonyms and don’t want to unexpectedly expose people’s real names in the photo credits.”

There were around 100 million total photos uploaded to Panoramio by late 2016 (per Wikipedia). Lorenzo let me know in the comments that there were 135 million shortly before Panoramio’s closure. I think probably most of those were geolocated, and most were included in the photos layer in Google Earth, though I have no idea what portion. I also don’t know how many were snapped to POIs or how many were by users who linked to a Google+ account, etc.

I am glad to see the outcry that occurred with these changes. I’m not the only one. You’re not the only one affected negatively by this. And Google is hearing us to some degree at least. I can just say to please keep it up. Join the Google Maps & Earth Help Forum and post your thoughts. Join Local Guides Connect and post there too. We need people to keep these issues in the spotlight and nudge Google’s team in the right direction. We are counting on them to get the migration completed correctly! And I hope many more improvements can be achieved to get Maps and Local Guides closer to some of the functionality that we loved in Panoramio.

Photos Layer of Google Earth and Google Maps Transition with Panoramio Closure

I wrote about Panoramio switching to read-only mode in preparation for its closure, and then recently about Google’s announcement of its imminent shutdown.

What is the newest development? Panoramio is completely shut down. Other users and I have noticed the Panoramio photos layer in Google Earth still shows geolocated photo icons. But clicking on them only brings up a message saying the Panoramio layer is disabled and new photos layer is “Google Maps Photos”. Panoramio photos no longer appear in Google Maps.

Google Earth new photos layer message screenshot1

Google Earth new photos layer screenshot2Clicking that button “Switch to the New Photos Layer” did not do anything for me. But I did see the Google Maps Photos checkbox under Photos in the Layers menu in the bottom-left of Google Earth. When that is checked, the map shows circular thumbnails (quite a bit larger than the previous thumbnails) of photos from Maps. I looked around a few places and noticed there were far fewer photos available in this new layer. In other places (like urban areas), many more thumbnails show as you zoom in and it’s hard to say whether there are more or less photos.

Panoramio.com website changed also, saying “Panoramio has been discontinued,” and including three frequently-asked questions.

1. What happened to my Panoramio data?
If your Panoramio profile was linked with your Google account, then all your Panoramio photos are being copied to your Google Album Archive at full resolution (this could take a few weeks). All other data has been permanently deleted.

2. Will my Panoramio photos continue to appear in Google Earth and Google Maps?
If your Panoramio photos were appearing in Google Maps with the name of your Google Account, then they will continue to appear along with their original view counts. If they were only attributed to your Panoramio username, they will no longer appear. You can view and manage photos by signing in to Google Maps and accessing the Contributions screen from the main menu. So not all, or maybe none, of the Panoramio photos have been copied yet. This could explain why the photos layer has so few photos currently. They only show those uploaded to Maps. But we have no idea how many or what percentage of Panoramio users have linked their accounts to enable this migration. The photos of Panoramio users that have not done this are just gone. It was up to those people to do what they will. They own their photos after all.

Google-Earth-new-photos-layer-screenshot3c2b

3. Is there any way to keep posting photos to Google Earth and Google Maps?
Yes – to keep adding photos to Google Maps and engage with a growing community of photographers, join the Local Guides program. You earn points and unlock rewards for photos submitted with a Google account when they are linked to a point of interest or business.

Questions remain regarding the new photos layer.

I also have concerns about what is missing from the new process.

  • Where are the community and social functions? Local Guides Connect is neat, but it is detached from the actual photos. I’d like to post a comment to tell someone how awesome their photo is. I thought this could be doable with Google+.
  • How can I learn more about a photographer? How can photographers get some recognition for their work filling great geolocated photos into the map? As it is now, they/we aren’t much better than anonymous Google-photo-bots.

Right now I can say that the quality of photos in the new layer, at least regarding relevancy to the map and location, is probably better than I expected (not too many food photos). But it is still not as good as Panoramio. The layer includes lots of photos that are not relevant. And there are far less photos appearing in areas that aren’t urban (at least until Panoramio photos are copied). This makes sense as the Google’s focus with Maps and Local Guides is ultimately fleshing out business listings. But I believe they should do what’s needed to improve things for non-urban areas. People will use Maps and Earth more if they are better tools, whether they are used to look at businesses in town or scenery in undeveloped areas.

Lots of people from Panoramio are negative towards Google’s new program. That has been apparent in Panoramio’s web forum, and from the vocal few users in Local Guides Connect. For me, I actually recommend joining the new program. This is because I hope that the fantastic people that made Panoramio great can help shape it and improve it so it might work as well as Panoramio did as a geolocated photos resource and community. Right now I think it needs help in that department. Sign up to Local Guides and share your opinion in the Local Guides Connect forums like I have.

Google Earth new photos layer screenshot4a Google Earth new photos layer screenshot5a