Google Earth Launches New Time-Lapse Feature That Shows Effects of Climate Change Over 37 Years

The new feature allows users to check in on the progress — or destruction — of any place over the last three decades

Google Earth timelapse
Photo: Google Earth

Thanks to Google Earth's latest project, you no longer need a time machine to travel back to days of yore.

Google Earth recently launched Timelapse, a global, interactive video that lets users track changes across the Earth over the past three decades, including the impact of the climate emergency.

The wide-ranging project is comprised of more than 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years, and took more than 2 million processing hours across thousands of machines in Google Cloud, Rebecca Moore, the director of Google Earth, Earth Engine & Outreach, said in a blog post.

Most of the images are from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that's been watching the planet since 1970, and they were made interactively explorable by Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab's Time Machine Library.

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"Timelapse in Google Earth is about zooming out to assess the health and well-being of our only home, and is a tool that can educate and inspire action," Moore wrote. "We hope that this perspective of the planet will ground debates, encourage discovery and shift perspectives about some of our most pressing global issues."

Users can check out any place on the planet they choose, and watch as it changes over the years. Examples include the area in Rondônia, Brazil, where the Suruí people have made efforts to protect the Amazon rainforest, or the way agriculture is built in the middle of a desert in Al-Jouf, Saudi Arabia.

If you zoom in on the Columbia Glacier Retreat in Alaska, you can watch as the glaciers begin to melt over the years due to climate change.

To explore Timelapse for yourself, click here. Users can also check out more than 800 Timelapse videos in 2D and 3D here.

Moore said the project will be updated annually with new Timelapse imagery over the next decade.

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