Starting in 2013, Google invited us to step right up and "watch the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, and the impressive urban expansion of Las Vegas, Nevada." That innovation, Google Earth Timelapse, provided the ability to see the earth like an actual god from above and over the span of years.
Now Chris Herwig, the program manager of Google Earth Engine, writes on the company's blog that Google has updated their Timelapse with "four additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data, and a sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016." It's the largest update yet, and it just makes the technology more exciting going forward — if we assume the Earth doesn't blow up anytime soon, which maybe we shouldn't, the more years of satellite imagery added to the mosaic, the more interesting it will be.
"Timelapse is a global, zoomable video that lets you see how the Earth has changed over the past 32 years," Google Earth Engine explains. "It is made from 33 cloud-free annual mosaics, one for each year from 1984 to 2016, which are made interactively explorable by Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab's Time Machine library, a technology for creating and viewing zoomable and pannable timelapses over space and time."
You can create your own Timelapse Tour, as below, with an online "Tour Editor."
To create lapses like these, Google relied on 5 million satellite images from the past three decades taken by 5 different satellites. "The majority of the images come from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that has observed the Earth since the 1970s," Google writes. "For 2015 and 2016, we combined Landsat 8 imagery with imagery from Sentinel-2A, part of the European Commission and European Space Agency's Copernicus Earth observation program."
Pretty cool. Can you see your house from up here?