In 2013, Google released Google Earth Timelapse, an interactive experience that enabled people to explore Earth’s changing surface like never before. Today, the company announced their largest update yet, with four additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data, and a drasticly sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016.
The new Timelapse reveals a sharper view of our planet, with truer colors and fewer distracting artifacts. Google again teamed up with TIME to give updated takes on compelling locations, such as the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge reconstruction, or a meandering river in Nyingchi, Tibet.
The new Timelapse also provides a more detailed view on glacial movement in Antarctica, urban growth, forest gain and loss, and infrastructure development. Using Google Earth Engine, the company sifted through about three quadrillion pixels — that’s 3 followed by 15 zeroes — from more than 5,000,000 satellite images. Google also had access to a lot more images from the past, thanks to the Landsat Global Archive Consolidation Program, and fresh images from Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2.
We took the best of all those pixels to create 33 images of the entire planet, one for each year. We then encoded these new 3.95 terapixel global images into just over 25,000,000 overlapping multi-resolution video tiles, made interactively explorable by Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab‘s Time Machine library, a technology for creating and viewing zoomable and pannable timelapses over space and time.
To view the new Timelapse, head over to the Earth Engine website. You can also view the new annual mosaics in Google Earth‘s historical imagery feature on desktop, or spend a mesmerizing 40 minutes watching this YouTube playlist.
[images by courtesy of Google]