It’s an ambitious development to say the least. Google Earth, the software that lets you view the earth from the sky, now has a new feature called Time Lapse. The principle is very simple: you can visualize the development of certain areas from 1984 until today in 3D.
It is therefore possible to both observe positive changes and, at times, see the devastating effects of climate change on landscapes. For example, the melting ice in the poles appears very clearly there.
A YouTube playlist to follow the evolution of certain emblematic places
This environmental aspect is also asserted by the company Mountain View. Rebecca Morre, director of Google Earth, quoted The Verge: “This is a zoom out. We have to take a step back. We can see the state of our common home better. “
Creating such a tool took a tremendous amount of work on the part of Google. In a press release, Mountain View revealed the details of this important development:
In order to integrate the animated images from Timelapse into Google Earth, we collected more than 20 million satellite images that were taken between 1984 and 2000. In total, it took over 2 million hours of processing on thousands of computers on Google Cloud to process 20 petabytes of satellite images and convert them to a 4.4 terapixel video mosaic (i.e. a 4 followed by 12 zeros, which translates to 530,000 videos in 4K resolution corresponds!)
The tech giant also claims to have worked with NASA, the European Commission or the European Space Agency to collect the necessary data. Note that it is also possible to directly display the development of certain points of interest selected by Google. A YouTube playlist of 290 videos was provided for this purpose.
As a reminder, since 2019 Google Earth has also offered the option of telling stories by playing with its cartography and 3D illustrations. The uses of such an option are very numerous and can range from a simple family souvenir to an organization promotional video to an illustration of a dish.