Google Earth Timelapse video lets you explore last 35 years of changing planet

by April 30, 2019 0 comments

Google today introduced several updates to Google Earth Timelapse, a global, zoomable time-lapse video that lets anyone explore the last 35 years of our changing planet’s surface — from the global scale to the local scale. This update adds two additional years of imagery to the time-series visualisation, now spanning from 1984 to 2018, along with mobile support and visual upgrades to make exploring more accessible and intuitive.

Desktop and Mobile

Google Earth Timelapse provides a comprehensive picture of our changing Earth — including stunning phenomena like the sprouting of Dubai’s Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier and the impressive urban expansion of Las Vegas, Nevada.

‘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 said in a blog post.

Recently, a team of scientists at the University of Ottawa published an article ‘Nature’ based on the Timelapse dataset which revealed a 6,000 per cent increase in landslides on a Canadian Arctic island since 1984. Starting this week, if you’re in the Britain, you can see Timelapse imagery featured in ‘Earth From Space,’ a new BBC series about the incredible discoveries and perspectives captured from above.

Using Google Earth Engine, Google’s cloud platform for petabyte-scale geospatial analysis, the company combined over 15 million satellite images (roughly 10 quadrillion pixels) to create 35 global cloud-free images that make up Google Earth Timelapse. These images come from the US Geological Survey/NASA Landsat and European Sentinel programs.

‘Once again, we joined forces with our friends at Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab, whose Time Machine video technology makes Timelapse interactively explorable,’ added Google.

Today’s update also adds mobile and tablet support, making it a little easier for you to explore, research or get lost in the imagery—from wherever you are. Up until recently, mobile browsers disabled the ability to autoplay videos, which is critical for Timelapse (since it’s made up of tens of millions of multi-resolution, overlapping videos). Chrome and Firefox reinstated support for autoplay (with sound muted), so Google has added mobile support with this latest update.

Timelapse Phone

Google Earth Timelapse is available on phones and tablets and also includes a handy new ‘Maps Mode’ toggle to let you navigate the map using Google Maps.

The design of the new Timelapse interface leverages Material Design with simple, clean lines and clear focal areas, so you can easily navigate the immense dataset. We contributed this new user interface to the open-source Time Machine project, used by Carnegie Mellon and others. Read more about our design approach at Google Design.


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