Google Earth Timelapse, released in 2013, is one of a kind tool that enables users to witness how the geography of our planet has changed over the past 35 years, and now this feature is available for smartphone and tablet users too.
Smartphone and tablet browsers had disabled auto-playing videos but now Chrome and Firefox have been updated to support autoplay with muted sound. Hence, smartphone and tablet owners can also enjoy Earth Timelapse right from their palms.
The Earth Timelapse when viewed via phones and tablets also includes a new ‘Map Mode’, which will allow you to navigate the same map you’re viewing on timelapse via Google Maps.
Google Timelapse not only has videos since 1984 about urbanisation but also deforestation, coastal expansion, irrigation, mining, meandering rivers, melting ice and more.
You can search for the timelapse for any location on Earth, enter either the name of the place or coordinates and the website will show you a zoomable map of that place with satellite imagery between 1984 and 2018.
The Earth Timelapse has used over 15 million images collected from five satellites over a period of 35 years. These images have then been converted to 35 cloud-free mosaics.
According to their website, “Using Google Earth Engine, we combined over 15 million satellite images acquired over the past three decades by 5 different satellites. The majority of the images come from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that has observed the Earth since the 1970s. For 2015 through 2018, we combined Landsat 8 imagers with imagers from Sentinel-2A.”
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Below is the timelapse of the Columbia Glacier Retreat in Alaska, USA. You can either play the slideshow in your desired speed or pause it and use the arrow keys to see images for each year between 1984 and 2018.
Another timelapse we’ve shared below is of the Aral Sea shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. You can see it drying over the span of the past 35 years. You can see that it’s merely a shadow of its past self.
There are many other such timelapse including urban expansion of Las Vegas, reconstruction of the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco; the meandering rivers in Miruixiang, Tibet (shown below) and Kosi river in Bihar, India; geographical changes in Shirase Glacier, Antarctica, Deforestation in Madagascar and a lot more.
Google Earth Timelapse is also a good tool to learn about the geographical changes, especially the environmental changes around the globe. You can also view the timelapse on YouTube here.
“Scientists, documentarians and journalists have used this dataset to help us better understand the complex dynamics at work on our planet. News outlets have brought their reporting to life with Timelapse imagery, from coverage of the floods in Houston, Texas to population monitoring,” Google stated.
“Recently, a team of scientists at the University of Ottawa published an article Nature based on the Timelapse dataset which revealed a 6,000 percent increase in landslides on a Canadian Arctic island since 1984.”