Google Earth’s new Timelapse feature allows users to look back from the current day to 1984 and see how human activity and natural forces have changed the face of the Earth over the past 40 years.
The new timelapse feature uses some 24 million satellite photos collected by Google Earth from NASA, the US Geological Survey (USGS), the European Union and the European Space Agency (ESA). Over 2 million processing hours were required to process these 20 petabytes of images into a single, zoomable 4.4 terapixel global video mosaic.
“Now anyone can watch time unfold and witness nearly four decades of planetary change,” writes Rebecca Moore, the Director, Google Earth, Earth Engine and Outreach. “Our planet has seen rapid environmental change in the past half-century — more than any other point in human history… With Timelapse in Google Earth, we have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips — one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerizingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades.”
“As we looked at what was happening, five themes emerged: forest change, urban growth, warming temperatures, sources of energy, and our world’s fragile beauty. Google Earth takes you on a guided tour of each topic to better understand them,” Moore continues.
The new imagery is free to access and use, like the rest of Google Earth, and will be updated annually.