Humans do not treat the Earth kindly, and now we have even more evidence. Google just updated the Google Earth Engine to include four years of additional imagery, petabytes of new data, and generally a much clearer view of any location on Earth from 1984 to 2016. The best part: You can watch any area on Earth in a time lapse video.
The update lets you see, in dramatic detail, how the Earth has changed over the course of 32 years in almost any location. Google originally launched the time lapse tool in 2013, but back then, it was populated with low-grade images that could give you a general sense of how places looked but wouldn’t show intimate details like roads and buildings. Now you can practically see every little detail of any location (depending on how far zoomed in you are).
Part of the secret to the incredible detail in more recent years is Google’s use of higher quality imagery from NASA. Google Earth is now using images from Landsat 8, a satellite launched into orbit in 2013, that takes photos in greater detail, more vibrant colours, and twice as many images as older satellites. The search giant began using the satellite for Google Maps back in June, but it’s now officially added those images to Google Earth.
The new time lapse feature lets you track cool things like the development of major cities, but it also lets you track the destruction that humans have left behind in all the places they’ve inhabited. Watch glaciers melt, land erode, and cities turn into one giant car park. You can pick any spot in the world you want at Google Earth’s Time Lapse website, or if you’re really lazy, you can just watch Google’s 40-hour YouTube playlist of time lapse videos. [Google]