When I use the ruler tool and create a segment between two points, which one of the following is true for the calculated distance?:

  1. The geodesic distance calculated over a an ellipsoid
  2. The projection of the geodesic path of the ellipsoid over the terrain
  3. The 3D distance between the two points

For example in a mountain I would like to know the distance I travel in a certain path considering the ups and downs of the terrain (thus the height at each point of the line). This would mean I want the second statement to be true. Is that what Google Earth Pro calculates?

What if I want to know the distance traveled by a laser between those same coordinates (from one mountain peak to another)? Then I would like to have something like the third statement. How can I do that in Google Earth Pro?


First, create a path between the two locations and highlight it, then go to Edit -> Show Elevation Profile (#1).

Right-click the path in the Places tab then click Properties (#2), then click the Altitude tab (#3).

In the drop down menu (#4), if you select "clamped to ground" or "relative to ground" with the box checked for "extend path to ground", you'll see the distance along the terrain (your distance 2) (D2) enter image description here

If you select "Absolute", the elevation profile is ignored, so it provides the distance 'as the crow flies' (D3). enter image description here

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