Experience 22 Years of Earth's Changing Surface

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Google Earth Timelapse this week released its most comprehensive picture of the planet's changing surface.

Whether you're studying effects of global warming, or are curious about your hometown's topographical history, the new Timelapse promises sharper views, truer colors, and fewer distractions.

Powered by Earth Engine's cloud-computing model, Timelapse allows scientists, researchers, journalists, and other interested users to detect changes, map trends, and qualify differences on the planet's surface.

Through a partnership with NASA and the US Geological Survey (USGS), Google initially released its interactive experience in 2013—enabling armchair explorers to watch the sprouting of Dubai's artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska's Columbia Glacier, and the urban expansion of Las Vegas.

A Google developer's job is never done, though: After sifting through three quadrillion pixels from more than 5 million satellite photos, the team built 33 images of the entire planet—one for each year (1984 to 2016). Those images were then encoded into more than 25 million overlapping multi-resolution video tiles, creating zoomable and pannable timelapses.

"There's so much more to see, including glacial movement in Antarctica, urban growth, forest gain and loss, and infrastructure development," Google Earth Engine program manager Chris Herwig wrote in a blog post.

To view the new Timelapse, head over to the Earth Engine website or Time magazine's Timelapse project, which aggregates and contextualizes the imagery into an interactive presentation.

Interested users can also watch the new annual mosaics in Google Earth's historical imagery feature on desktop, or spend 40 minutes watching Google's YouTube playlist.

"It's an undeniable achievement that we can keep such a close, sharp eye on our world," Time writer Jeffrey Kluger said about the magazine's Timelapse tie-up. "It will be even more to our credit, however, if that ability leads us to care more for the world, too."

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