Receding glaciers, rapid urbanization, and illegal slash-and-burn agriculture. These are just three events that you can witness with 3D Timelapse, an ambitious new Google Earth feature that utilizes 37 years of data to show how quickly we’re changing our planet.
Google Earth’s 3D Timelapse project compiles 20 petabytes of satellite imagery into a single video mosaic, the equivalent of 530,000 videos at 4K resolution. Much of the data in this project comes from NASA, the US Geological Survey’s Landsat program, and the EU’s Copernicus program, as Google Earth has only collected satellite data for the last 15 years.
After opening Google Earth and clicking the ship’s wheel icon to enter 3D Timelapse, you can click anywhere on the planet and watch how our environment has changed since 1984. Or, you can enjoy Google’s guided tours, which focus on environmental change due to urbanization, deforestation, mining, and rising temperatures. You can also find and download Timelapse videos in Google’s new Earth Timelapse directory.
Google Earth 3D Timelapse is a major update from the old 2D Timelapse feature that Google debuted in 2011. It’s an incredible resource for education, and it helps us visualize the impact we have on our environment—sometimes in good ways, but usually in bad ways.
The 3D Timelapse feature will continue to update over the coming years and could become an important resource in fighting climate change. Google says that it developed Timelapse in a “carbon-neutral, 100% energy-matched data center,” and that the company is committed to a carbon-free future.