Watch carefully the reservoir dries up, the oil spill spreads and the rainforest disappears.
Today, Google announced a new 3D time-lapse feature in its Google earth Platform. It allows users to navigate to any location on the globe and press play to watch the geographic shift. The timeline goes back 37 years, from 1984 to today. Each time-lapse frame is taken from a year of imagery. While playback is in progress, users can move the camera position to see the changing landscape from different angles.
The project is the result of a collaboration between Google, NASA, the US Geological Survey, the European Commission and the European Space Agency. Interactive video combines satellite imagery from NASA Landsat program and the Copernicus Project, both intended to provide near-continuous imagery of the planet’s surface. These resources, all mixed together, generate a staggering amount of data. Google says the time-lapse feature relies on 20 petabytes of satellite imagery, combined to create a 4.4 terapixel (or 4.4 million megapixel) video that matches the surface of the globe.
This isn’t Google Earth’s first foray into repackaging time. In 2014, the company released a time-lapse tool in its Google Earth Engine. It wasn’t a feature of the Google Earth app itself, and it was limited to a top-down 2D perspective.
Google says this new 3D time-lapse is a way to provide more context on how humans have affected Earth. In the videos released by the company, shores are changing, glaciers are receding, ice caps are melting.