Google recently updated their Earth Timelapse, which reveals the devastating impact human beings had on Earth between 1984 and 2016. From retreating glaciers to sprawling cities, Google Earth Timelapse allows a casual observer to see how much humanity has changed the planet over the last 32 years.
While Google Timelapse has been around since 2013, the tech giant just updated the feature with new data from more years, as well as new images from NASA. The project allows anyone with an Internet connection to watch the diminishing Columbia Glacier in Alaska, and green plants springing up as snow and ice retreat. They can check out the Palm Islands in Dubai flourishing, or zoom in on Miami, Brisbane, Copenhagen, or any other location on Earth. Google says their updated Timelapse offers a sharper picture of cities and geological features all across the globe.
The new Timelapse includes petabytes of data; one petabyte comprises one million gigabytes. According to Google, the team had to sort through three quadrillion pixels from over five million satellite images. Five satellites across three decades collected the millions of images. Two new satellites, Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2, provided crisp imagery for 2015 and 2016. Google said most of the images in Timelapse come from a NASA and United States Geological Survey program, Landsat, that has been inspecting our planet since the 1970’s. Google made the interactive Timelapse map utilizing Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab‘s Time Machine Library technology.
For better or for worse, humans are transforming Earth, and Google Timelapse allows people to see the effects of our species on this planet. In a blog post on the updated Timelapse, Google Earth Engine Program Manager Chris Herwig said, “There’s much more to see, including glacial movement in Antarctica, urban growth, forest gain and loss, and infrastructure development.”
Images via screenshot