PATTERNED GROUND II: CREATING GOOGLE EARTH KMZ FILES OF GEOREFERENCED HISTORIC NIKE MISSILE LAUNCH SITE AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS USING GLOBAL MAPPER AND THE NEW ARC2EARTH EXTENSION FOR ARCMAP
Expanding the original Patterned Ground project that I began in 2013, Patterned Ground II adds georeferenced historical aerial imagery to a new base map of the NIKE missile launch sites located around major urban centers and Defense Areas in the United States. I downloaded from the USGS EarthExplorer site historic aerial photographs from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s showing operational sites. Metadata associated with these images provide lat/long coordinates for the image corners, but georeferencing is difficult when the corner marks are obscured in the scans and/or the imagery has been rotated such that the values do not reflect the correct corner positions.
Using the new Arc2Earth extension for ArcGIS, Google Earth imagery can be loaded directly into ArcMap and used as a base map for visually georeferencing these historic images. The Arc2Earth imagery provides seamless, high resolution coverage eliminating the need to download individual recent orthoimages, as previously needed, to visually georeference a historic image. The Google Earth imagery allows for easy comparison between land use/land cover when the site was operational and the current land use/land cover of the same area.
In order to create composite KMZ files for use by the NIKE Historical Society and others, I needed to do additional processing. Raster data exported as KMZ files directly from ArcMap do not display well in Google Earth. To improve the quality of the KMZ file, I exported the georeferenced image files from ArcMap as TIFFs, opened them in Global Mapper and exported them using Global Mapper’s KMZ export function, which creates a “super overlay” allowing Google Earth to display a quality raster image of the spatially located historic airphoto.