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Google Timelapse shows how any location on Earth has changed over the past 32 years


Launched in 2013, Timelapse is a global, zoomable map built on top of the Google Earth Engine that allows you to explore how a location has changed from 1984 to 2016. A huge update today adds petabytes of new data and an additional four years of imagery that makes for sharpest historical view of Earth ever.

The web app has the same basic Maps UI, but going to a location plays a video timelapse that’s comprised of 5 million satellite images ranging over 32 years. There are play/pause buttons and speed controls, as well as a scrubber for fine-tuned selection.

This process is quite impressive with Google sifting through three quadrillion pixels to make each year’s planet wide-image. Timelapse is taking advantage of an update rolled out to Maps and Earth earlier this year that results in truer colors and less distracting artifacts. The latest update also adds images from the two recently launched satellites: the USGS/NASA Landsat 8 and the European Sentinel-2.

These 3.95 terapixel global images are then encoded into over 25,000,000 overlapping multi-resolution video tiles that allow for zoomable and pannable timelapses.

Google provides a carousel of interesting locations at the bottom, but for the most part you can view a timelapse of any location you search. The company also composed a playlist of especially drastic changes. Particularly, interesting include the disappearance of the Aral Sea and the construction growth in countries like Qatar.

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: