Global Mountain Explorer Video Tutorial

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Detailed Description

This video contains a narrated introduction to the Global Mountain Explorer, or GME. The GME is a web-based tool for visualizing and exploring three well known global mountain datalayers. The video tutorial provides background information on the three global mountain characterizations, and provides users with a walk through of all the functionality of the map exploration tool.


Date Taken:

Length: 00:06:28

Location Taken: US


The Global Mountain Explorer, or GME, is a new web-based browsing tool for visualizing and exploring where the mountains of the world are located. This video provides a brief introduction to the tool; what it is, why it was developed, and how to start using it. 

After clicking the url for the GME ( the user arrives at the entry page. The entry page has partner logos and introductory information on mountains. There are three main maps of global mountains that can be viewed with the GME. These three maps are called K1, K2, and K3, because the authors of these products all have last names beginning with the letter K. The K1, K2, and K3 global mountain maps are all described, and the reference papers for each are provided for more information.

The GME tool was developed as part of the work of GEO, the Group on Earth Observations. GEO is a consortium of over 100 nations who focus on earth observation for problem solving. GEO requested us to “accurately delineate mountain regions using best available data”, which is what the GME delivers.

Clicking on the blue underlined section title called The Global Mountain Explorer (GME) takes the user to the mapping tool. The display shows a map of the world with a light grey canvas background, and mountain areas mapped in colors. 

Clicking on the Layers tab displays the three global mountain datalayers, K1, K2, and K3. It is here where the user can select which layers to display. The map that comes up by default is always the K3 All Mountain Classes layer. To change to another layer, unclick the checked box, and check another box. For example to see the K1 mountains, uncheck the K3 box, and check the K1 Mountains box. A map displays the K1 Mountains.

To see all the different classes of K1 Mountains, check the K1.

For all three layers, K1, K2, and K3, you can display them either as a two class map of mountains and not mountains , or as a layer showing the different kinds of mountains in each.

Now we will run through the different maps, one at a time:

K1, with just two classes, mountains and not mountains.

K1, with all different classes shown.

K2, with just two classes, mountains and not mountains.

K2, with all different classes shown.

K3, with just two classes, mountains and not mountains.

And K3, with all different classes shown.

For any display, move the Transparency bar to the left or right to decrease or increase the color.
Until now, we have been looking at the maps over the light grey canvas background. To change the background, click on the Basemaps tab and you will see the available options for backgrounds. Background options include, imagery, topomaps, etc. The default basemap for the GME tool is the light grey canvas, to maximize the display of the mountain maps, but the ability to select imagery and other basemaps as a backdrop is powerful.

Clicking on the About tab provides technical information on the layers, including links for downloading the data.

To pan in the GME, click and hold down the left mouse button, and drag the screen. To zoom in the GME, either double click on the screen or use the zoom in/zoom out button in the upper left of the screen.

Let’s now zoom in to the city of Bern, Switzerland. Pan and zoom there, or type in Bern in the upper right search box that says Find address or place. The search box is a great way to zoom to areas of interest by typing in mountain names or other place names. For example, type in Mt. Kilimanjaro in the box, select it, and the display moves to, and zooms in on the mountain.

One of the most useful features of the tool is the query function. Clicking one time over land anywhere in the world returns a results box that describes what that area is in each of the three layers. For example, clicking on Mt. Kilimanjaro returns a box that gives the elevation and what the mountain type is in each of the K1, K2, and K3 layers. If the user selects an area that is not classified as a mountain, the elevation and the non-mountain landform type (e.g. plains, or hills), is returned.

This tutorial has introduced the user interface and main functionality of the GME. It also has some advanced functionality like using the slider bar in the Swipe tab. To use the Swipe tab, first select two layers to be compared back in the Layers tab. We will pick K2 mountains, and K3 mountains.

Now go to the Swipe tab, and select K3, select vertical (the default), and click Apply. The Slider bar then comes up, and moving it to the left or the right shows the moving comparison of the two maps.

We hope this tutorial has helped you to understand what the Global Mountain Explorer is, and how to use it to visualize and compare three different global mountain maps, K1, K2, and K3. Thank you.