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Google Time-lapse offers view of Earth over 3 decades

Google has released a series of time-lapse images showing global change between 1984 and 2012.

The project, which was done in conjunction with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and TIME, was unveiled as a special feature on TIME and Space.

The images are sourced from NASA’s Landsat mission, a series of Earth-observation satellites that have orbited the planet since 1972, providing scientists, policymakers, and the general public with a wealth of data and imagery used for a wide range of applications. Google Earth Engine’s Rebecca Moore says it “sifted through 2,068,467 images—a total of 909 terabytes of data—to find the highest-quality pixels (e.g., those without clouds), for every year since 1984 and for every spot on Earth” to generate each time-lapse set.

Deforestation around the Surui indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon from 1984-2012. Image courtesy of Google

Highlighted time-lapses include deforestation in a portion of the the Brazilian Amazon, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, urban growth in Las Vegas, the construction of Dubai’s artificial “Palm Islands”, oil sands development in Alberta, the drying up of Lake Urmia, the Middle East’s largest lake; and coal mining in Wyoming.

For more images and background, check out TIME and Space.

The newest Landsat is already in orbit and will begin beaming down images at the end of the month.

Images courtesy of Google

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