The Earth has undergone a lot of geographical change in the last 28 years, but that kind of gradual transformation can be hard to articulate, let alone document. Fortunately, Google has created a series of interactive time-lapse images that clearly bridge that gap.
Combining annual Landsat satellite image composites with Google Earth Engine software, the images show year-by-year progress or deterioration of key geographical areas. Viewers can watch booming cities like Dubai sprout out of the desert and into the Persian Gulf, see the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest or watch the retreat of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska.
Google collaborated with the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA and TIME magazine to create the project. The CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University helped build the final website that made the images animated and interactive. As well, Google has conveniently created GIF files out of the images.
Other animations included in the project are the drying up of Lake Urmia in Iran and the exponential urban sprawl of Las Vegas, among others. All are equally impressive, but judging by the most number of comments, the retreating Columbia Glacier appears to be the most alarming.
Credit: Google Earth Engine