Now Google users can spy on how the coastline of Dubai, Brazilian rainforest or Las Vegas urban landscape has change in the last 28 years with Google Earth Engine.
Google went through more than 2 million pictures, or 90 terabytes of data, from Landsat (a joint mission between the USGS and NASA) to find images for every place on Earth without clouds to obscure the view, according to the official Google blog. The search engine then pieced them together to create a giant image for each year.
"As the final step, we worked with the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon University, recipients of a Google Focused Research Award, to convert these annual Earth images into a seamless, browsable HTML5 animation," Rebecca Moore engineering manager at Google Earth Engine & Earth Outreach.
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Using Time's new Timelapse project, users can also see several timelapsed maps including the emergence of the Palm Islands of Dubai, the retreat of Alaska's Columbia glacier and the disappearance of Brazilian rainforest.
Many may view these timelapsed maps, or GiFs, strictly as amusement, but the images are meant to cause users to think. All four freely shareable GiFs tackle an issue: urban sprawl, deforestation, coastline exploitation and the disappearance of glaciers/global warming. This project seems to be educating the public on hotly debated environmental issues rather than just giving Google users a way to waste a few minutes.