Google Earth Timelapse Lets You See How Much Earth Changed From 1984 To 2016


Google has refreshed its Google Earth Engine with tons of images and data so that it now covers the period from 1984 to the present. The Nov. 29 update has allowed the company's Timelapse project to present how the world has changed in a span of mere seconds via a time lapse video.

Timelapse View Of The Earth

Through Timelapse, a location is shown changing as time passes. The progression is in fast forward so communities were shown acquiring new infrastructure and new buildings, while spaces give way to another in four seconds or so. Some structures were demolished only to be replaced by even bigger ones.

The amount of changes as shown in the picture below is simply incredible.

New Satellite Data

The update, which allowed Google Earth its most detailed and comprehensive view of the world from space yet, has been largely due to Google's collaboration with the US Geological Survey, NASA and TIME. This partnership has yielded a history of satellite images that added four more years to Google's existing data.

According to Google, the new data has leveraged its own resources so that Timelapse is now able to reveal a sharper view of the planet with more vivid colors and fewer distractions.

The process is also quite painstaking. In a blog post, Google has detailed how it sifted through 3 quadrillion pixels taken from more than 5 million satellite images, which were provided by the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation Program, and new data captured by two new satellites, Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2.

"We took the best of all those pixels to create 33 images of the entire planet, one for each year," Google said. "We then encoded these new 3.95 terapixel global images into just over 25,000,000 overlapping multi-resolution video tiles."

The company did not provide any details about the software or devices used in the process.

Human Encroachment And Its Impact On The Planet

While the Google Earth Timelapse depicted the development of communities, some becoming towns and cities, it also highlighted the level of destruction on the environment.

For instance, there is the case of Dalian, a city in the Chinese province called Liaoning. During the 1980s, it was consisted of a few clusters of buildings and settlements scattered about the peninsula where it is located, but in the past 30 years, the entire landform has been practically covered with buildings and infrastructure, demolishing much of the greenery that has characterized the peninsula in the not-so-distant-past.

Google Timelapse has also shown specific examples how human development affected glacial movement in Antarctica and — as in the case of Dalian — how urban and infrastructure development has led to significantly diminished forests.

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