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  • Giorgos Pismisis

A "Timelapse" of Climate Change: Go Back in Time with Google Earth

The effects of climate change over the last 37 years can be seen in a Timelapse by Google Earth users as the internet giant launches its new service.

The change of a part of Greenland in the last 37 years. (Photo: Google Earth Engine)

Humanity’s impact on our planet through a global time-lapse

Our planet has undergone a rapid environmental change in the last half century - more than any other period in human history. Cities account for more than 70% of global carbon emissions. According to the Ban Ki-Moon, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, "our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities". Google has launched a revealing global time-lapse video that shows how cities around the globe have changed since 1984. More specifically, Google has made available to the public the new Timelapse service of Google Earth that allows users to "go back in time" and watch the changes that have been recorded on our planet. Each user of this new service will be able to save videos and images from Timelapse for their own use. Most of the images are from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that has been watching the earth since 1970, and they were made interactively explorable by Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab's Time Machine Library.

According to Rebecca Moore, director of Google Earth and Earth Engine & Outreach, over the past 15 years, billions of people have turned to Google Earth to enjoy fascinating views of our planet from countless different angles. "With Timelapse, 24 million satellite images from the last 37 years have been integrated into Google Earth, creating a four-dimensional interactive experience. "Now, anyone can watch time evolve around the world, in a way that sums up almost four decades of planetary change," added Rebecca Moore. Finally, Rebecca underlined, "With Timelapse in Google Earth, we have a clearer picture of our changing planet at our fingertips - an image that shows not only problems but also solutions, as well as the enchanting beauty of natural phenomena over decades."

If you zoom in, for example, on the Columbia Glacier Retreat in Alaska, you have the opportunity to watch as the glaciers begin to melt over the years due to climate change. Everyone has the access to explore the Timelapse app in Google Earth, just for free, by visiting this link. Using the search bar, you can "go back in time", anywhere in the world you want, to draw your own conclusions.

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