The basemap services provided by Esri (on ArcGIS Online, Data and Maps for Sever, and the Data Appliance for ArcGIS) use the WGS 1984 Web Mercator (Auxiliary Sphere) spatial reference (WKIDs 102100 or 3857). When they're displayed in Google Earth, they don't line up correctly (see attached). In fact, if I display a service in Google Earth from my own ArcGIS Server instance, I can often get Google Earth to crash.

enter image description here Older versions of ArcGIS Online services, such as the ESRI_Imagery_World_2D service, use WGS 84 (WKID 4326) as the spatial reference, and these are projected correctly in Google Earth.

How can I get services that use WKID 3857 to project correctly in Google Earth?

  • Just to confirm - what version and license of GE are you using?
    – bjmarra
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 15:57
  • (free edition) Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


If you want to import data from a GIS Server into Google Earth, be sure the data is in EPSG:4326, also known as WGS84 Lat/Long, aka WGS84 Plate Carree/Equirectangular projection, aka GEOGCS["GCS_WGS_1984",DATUM["D_WGS_1984",SPHEROID["WGS_1984",6378137.0,298.257223563]],PRIMEM["Greenwich",0.0],UNIT["Degree",0.0174532925199433]]

Google Earth does not have a very robust reprojection engine, so I've had things line up perfectly in some situations, and crash the application in others. It's best to import your geometry in Google Earth's native coordinate system.

  • Right. The problem is that I don't have control over these services. They're provided by Esri. Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 12:53

Try updating your Google Earth verison.

I'm able to get http://server.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/USA_Topo_Maps/MapServer/kml/mapImage.kmz to line up correctly (well about accurate for a 1:24k scale, it definitely isn't engineering grade data, or a precise tool) in GoogleEarth, Free license - v7.1.2x

I did notice at global view, the data is certainly shifted but as i got closer to the earth's surface, the alignment corrected exponentially.

3D overlay

  • Yes, I see this behaviour as well. To me, this means that it's not projected correctly. At large scales, it "looks" OK, but when you look at smaller scales, it's clearly not projected correctly. Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 16:28
  • interestingly, when I load the kmz and view at large scales, it looks fairly acccurate (again for 24K) then when i go back out to US Continental scale, it is more accurate than when i first loaded it. I agree, its an EPSG issue, but there doesn;t seem to currently be a way to get the ESRI services in 4326 - unless they were published as WMS.
    – bjmarra
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 16:31

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