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Witness our planet’s astonishing transformation over the past 30 years

Google, in conjunction with NASA, TIME, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), have compiled years of satellite images from different parts of the Earth into digestible, eye-opening GIFS.

The effect of population growth and economic development on our planet has been gaining a lot more attention in recent years. With the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events and the destruction of natural landscapes, sustainable development is slowly becoming a major focus of government policies around the world. Such policies could potentially be guided by Google and TIME’s Timelapse project, which provides the opportunity to get an objective glimpse of the impact we have had on our environment over the past couple of decades.

The project makes use of satellite images that were captured by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) since the 1970s as part of their Landsat mission. Google Earth Engine technology was then used to select only the clearest images out of a collection of 2 million; this meant having to sort through 909 terabytes of data since the project’s inception in 2009. The result was a complete image of the planet for each year since 1984; by combining these into a single GIF file, an extraordinary view of our environment’s transformation became possible.

Thankfully we have the weekend to go through each and every one of these

Watch as Dubai develops form a barren desert into the metropolis it is today, or how the Columbia Glacier in Alaska has retreated. Along with images of the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, Timelapse should hopefully improve our environmental awareness and encourage more efforts to protect our planet, while providing invaluable data for researchers to analyze.


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