Google Earth Timelapse reveals changing face of planet Earth

A new update to Google Earth enables users to witness how much our planet has changed over a period of four decades, including the effects of climate change.

Google Earth time lapse update
Published: April 15, 2021 at 2:31 pm
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A new update to Google Earth enables users to watch timelapses of our home planet, revealing the changes that have occurred over the past 37 years.


The new feature is the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017 and reveals how Earth has changed over a period of nearly 4 decades, including how climate change is causing global temperatures to warm, sources of energy to change, how urban growth has affected the landscape and the changing shapes of Earth's forests.

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Visuals used in the new timelapse function were generated from data collected by NASA, the US Landsat programme and the European Union's Copernicus program and Sentinel satellites.

"Our planet has seen rapid environmental change in the past half-century — more than any other point in human history," a statement from Google said.

"Many of us have experienced these changes in our own communities. For other people, the effects of climate change feel abstract and far away, like melting ice caps and receding glaciers.

"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 mesmerisingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades."

24 million satellite photos captured between 1984 and 2020 were compiled to produce the new Google Earth timelapse function, amounting to quadrillions of pixels.

Google says it took over 2 million processing hours across thousands of machines to compile 20 petabytes of satellite imagery into the 4.4 terapixel-sized video mosaic.


Click on this link to access Google Earth Timelapse.


Iain Todd, BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Staff Writer. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.

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