Google Earth gets 'Timelapse' feature that unveils nearly four decades of planetary change

Humza

Posts: 861   +162
Staff member
Bottom line: The new Timelapse feature comes as part of Google's biggest update to the Google Earth platform since 2017. It compiles satellite imagery from the past 37 years, allowing users on the web to travel back in time and unfold how the planet's surface and environment have changed between 1984 and 2020. From rapid urbanization, melting glaciers, and changing forests to crop circles popping up in the middle of a desert, the tool is meant to educate and inspire action globally for dealing with the challenges of mankind's growing footprint on Earth.

Google and Pennsylvania's Carnegie Mellon University have worked together on Google Earth's new Timelapse feature to unfold nearly four decades of planetary change. For what many of us likely used to get a satellite view of our house when it first came out, the tool's biggest update since 2017 arguably makes it much more useful as it now gives a clearer picture of how environmental change has impacted Earth.

Google Earth's Director, Rebecca Moore, notes that the creation of the planet-sized timelapse video required significant "pixel crunching" of Google's Earth Engine, the company's cloud platform for geospatial analysis. The data was gathered from over 24 million satellite images and then processed on thousands of machines in Google data centers, taking them over 2 million processing hours to compile 20 petabytes of imagery for creating a single 4.4 terapixel-sized video mosaic.

Although Timelapse can be used to observe environmental changes anywhere in the world, Google has organized some of its information across five themes for better understanding. These online guided tours cover Changing Forests, Fragile Beauty, Sources of Energy, Warming Planet, and Urban Expansion.

"Visual evidence can cut to the core of the debate in a way that words cannot and communicate complex issues to everyone," notes Rebecca, adding that Google Earth will be updated annually with new Timelapse imagery throughout the next decade in the hope of educating, encouraging discovery and inspiring action for the pressing global issue of climate change.

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kiwigraeme

Posts: 363   +288
Good idea - but I hate it when companies do half-hearted stuff - Would be more interesting starting from the Triassic period - sure it would take more storage space - but Google is rich - just do it.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,856   +2,029
TechSpot Elite
Good idea - but I hate it when companies do half-hearted stuff - Would be more interesting starting from the Triassic period - sure it would take more storage space - but Google is rich - just do it.

This is using actual camera images. The dinosaurs forgot to leave their film at Fotomat for us to find millions of years later so we have fewer pics from that time than we'd like.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 363   +288
This is using actual camera images. The dinosaurs forgot to leave their film at Fotomat for us to find millions of years later so we have fewer pics from that time than we'd like.
I don't understand your point Dinos can't take photos ! - I just want googles imaginary - surely they can find cosmic mirrors out in space a the appropriate lightyears . just image those ones of earths - Wouldn't mind even a 1000 year intervals - is only a minor curiosity of mind
 

OortCloud

Posts: 613   +470
They need to a time-lapse on their moral compass too. Watch as it moves from straight up to straight down over the last 20 years.
 

neeyik

Posts: 1,877   +2,191
Staff member
Good idea - but I hate it when companies do half-hearted stuff - Would be more interesting starting from the Triassic period - sure it would take more storage space - but Google is rich - just do it.
Something like this, but with more close up information?


Well it would be possible to estimate that various flora changes over the eras, based on knowledge of rock strata, allowing one to zoom in and see particular landmasses in detail, but it would be a colossal project. With no viable reason for doing so, other than curiosity, few organisations would consider funding it. Don't forget that Google is rich by virtue of spending a dollar to make ten more back, not the other way round.
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 363   +288
Something like this, but with more close up information?


Well it would be possible to estimate that various flora changes over the eras, based on knowledge of rock strata, allowing one to zoom in and see particular landmasses in detail, but it would be a colossal project. With no viable reason for doing so, other than curiosity, few organisations would consider funding it. Don't forget that Google is rich by virtue of spending a dollar to make ten more back, not the other way round.

Silliness aside - we will get more data points , dna , rna, mitochondrial dna etc . strata analysis etc etc .
We know that in Dino times there was no grasses - that sharks had been around for a long time . We know that the BS quoted by climate deniers that the modern world has been warmer in the past - were just local warming events . We have ice cores going way back for atmosphere composition . We have reasonably definitive data points - that any model must adhere to - we will ascertain if the moon was captured or the detritus of a collection with earth etc .
The older of us probably enjoyed timeline illustrations in big books as kids - maybe a folded pull out .
So we will probably get a google earth with a long timeline with historical events sometime in the future
 

Markoni35

Posts: 1,118   +454
We are quickly changing our planet. And we're getting less and less careful. Just think about this:

There have been more airplane crashes in 20th and 21st century than in all the previous centuries combined. Doesn't that confirm we're being a lot more reckless than before?