Understand the causes of Earth’s change – Earthtopomaps
As far as we know, Timelapse in Google Earth is the largest video on the planet, of our planet. And creating it required out-of-this-world collaboration. This work was possible because of the U.S. government and European Union’s commitments to open and accessible data. Not to mention their herculean efforts to launch rockets, rovers, satellites and astronauts into space in the spirit of knowledge and exploration. Timelapse in Google Earth simply wouldn’t have been possible without NASA and the United States Geological Survey’s Landsat program, the world’s first (and longest-running) civilian Earth observation program, and the European Union’s Copernicus program with its Sentinel satellites.
An inside look at Google Earth. With mountains, valleys, buildings and more, Timelapse videos are draped over our planet using advanced 3D graphics rendering techniques. At any given moment, the correct videos for your location:. View angle and zoom-level are seamlessly stitched together on the fly to compose Timelapse in:. Google Earth, updated as you pan, zoom and explore.
24 million satellite images from 1984 to 2020 were analyzed, and we identified and removed artifacts in the imagery, like clouds. We then computed a single representative pixel for every location on the planet, and for every year from 1984-2020 to produce our global, cloud-free Timelapse experience.
Timelapse also reveals beautiful natural geologic processes, such as the beach sands of Cape Cod slowly shifting south. This footprint of time is captured in our featured locations collection, “Mesmerizing Changes.”
What will you do with Timelapse?
We invite anyone to take:. Timelapse into their own hands and share it with others whether you’re marveling at changing coastlines. Following the growth of megacities, or tracking deforestation. Timelapse in Google Earth is about zooming out to assess the health and well-being of our only home. And is a tool that can educate and inspire action.
Visual evidence can cut to the core of the debate in a way that words cannot. And communicate complex issues to everyone. Take, for example, the work of Liza Goldberg who plans to use Timelapse imagery to teach climate change. Or the 2020 award-winning documentary “Nature Now” that uses satellite imagery to show humanity’s growing footprint on the planet.
Timelapse for the next decade to come
In collaboration with our partners, we’ll update Google Earth annually with new Timelapse imagery throughout the next decade. We hope that this perspective of the planet will ground debates. Encourage discovery and shift perspectives about some of our most pressing global issues.
Understand the causes of Earth’s change – Earthtopomaps
Posted by Paul Dille, Senior Software Developer. Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab, and Chris Herwig. Geo Data Engineer. Google Earth Outreach.
Six years ago, we first introduced Google Earth Timelapse. A global.
Zoomable time-lapse video that lets anyone explore our changing planet’s surface from the global scale to the local scale. Earth Timelapse consists of 83 million multi-resolution overlapping video tiles. Which are made interactively explorable through the open-source Time Machine client software developed at Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab. At its core. Google Earth Timelapse is an example of how organizing information can make it more accessible and useful. Turning petabytes of satellite imagery into an interactive experience that shows the dynamic changes occurring across space and time.
An Inside Look at Google Earth Timelapse.
April, we introduced several updates to Timelapse, including two additional years of imagery to the time-series visualization. Which now spans from 1984 to 2018.
With visual upgrades that make exploring more accessible and intuitive. We are especially excited that this update includes support for mobile and tablet devices. Which are quickly overtaking desktop computers as the dominant source of app traffic.
An Inside Look at Google Earth Timelapse.
Building the Global Visualization.
Making a planetary-sized time-lapse video required a significant amount of pixel crunching in Earth Engine. Google’s cloud platform for petabyte-scale geospatial analysis. The new release followed a process similar to what we did in 2013. But at a significantly greater scale turning 15 million satellite images acquired over the last three and a half decades from the USGS/NASA Landsat. And European Sentinel programs into 35 cloud-free 4-terapixel images of the planet one for each year from 1984 to 2018.
At its native resolution. The Timelapse visualization is a 4 terapixel video.
(That’s four trillion pixels). Which would take about 12 days to download on a 95 Mb/s internet connection. Most computers would have difficulty playing a video of this size, let alone with an interactive, zoomable interface. The problem is even more severe for a mobile device.
A solution was pioneered by. Google Maps in 2004 with the map pyramiding technique. Before that time. Navigating a map required the use of directional arrows to pan and zoom. With each step requiring the page to reload. The map pyramiding technique assembles the full map image displayed on-screen from tens of small 256×256 pixel non-overlapping image tiles in an array. With new tiles fetched as needed at an appropriate resolution as the user pans and zooms across the map.
This works very well for maps made of static images.
But less so for pyramids of video tiles. Such as those used by Timelapse. Since it requires a web browser to keep up to 16 videos in sync while interacting with the visualization. The solution is embodied in CREATE Lab’s open source Time Machine software:. Create much larger video tiles that can cover the entire screen and only show one whole-screen tile at a time. The tiles create a pyramid. Where sibling tiles overlap with their neighbors to provide a seamless transition between tiles while panning and zooming. Though the overlapping tiles require the use of about 16x more videos. This pyramid structure enables the use of Timelapse on mobile devices by minimizing the amount of data required for visualization.
An Inside Look at Google Earth Timelapse.
In our newest release. The global video pyramid consists of 83 million videos across 13 zoom levels. Which required about 2 million CPU hours distributed across thousands of machines in Google Cloud to generate.
Time Travel, Wherever You Are. Prior to April’s update, ~30% of visitors to the Timelapse visualization were on mobile devices. And didn’t actually experience the visualization;. i
Instead they saw a YouTube playlist of locations in Timelapse. Until recently, the hardware and CPUs for phones and tablets could not decode videos fast enough without significant delays when someone attempted to zoom in or pan across a video. Making mobile exploration unpleasant. If not impossible. In addition. In order for the visualization to be smooth as you pan and zoom, each video that is loaded must sync to the previously playing video and begin playing automatically. But, until only recently, mobile browser vendors had disabled video autoplay at the browser level for bandwidth reasons.
Now that mobile browser vendors have re-enabled video autoplay.
we are able to take advantage of current mobile hardware and CPU capabilities. While leveraging the pyramid mapping technique’s efficient use of data. To enable Timelapse on mobile.
Redesigning Timelapse for Exploration Across Devices.
Timelapse is a tool for exploration, so we designed for immersiveness. Devoting as much real estate as possible to the map. On the other hand, it’s not just a map. But a map of videos. So we kept controls visible. Like pausing and restarting the timeline or choosing highlights. By leveraging Material Design with simple. Clean lines and clear focal areas.
To explore, you need to know where you are or where somewhere else is, so the new interface includes a new. “Maps Mode” toggle that lets the user navigate with Google Maps. We also built in scalability to the timeline element of the UI. So that new features added in the future. Such as lengthening the time-lapse or adding options for different time increments, won’t break the design. The timeline also allows the user to go backwards in time an interesting way to compare the present with the past.
An Inside Look at Google Earth Timelapse
For desktop browsers supporting WebGL. We also added a new WebGL viewer to the open source project. Which loads and synchronizes multiple videos to fill the screen at optimal resolution. The aesthetic improvement of this is nontrivial, with >4x better resolution.
We’re excited about the abundance of freely available.
Openly licensed satellite imagery and remote sensing data available. Enabling new visualizations across time, space, and the visual and non-visual spectrum. We’ve found it’s often the data combined with supplemental layers. Such as the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) boundaries. That can spark new insights. For example, seeing the visual connection between declining home ownership. And shifts in the city of Pittsburgh’s racial makeup tells a story about inequality that numbers on a page simply cannot. Visual evidence can transcend language and cultural barriers and We hope, generate productive conversations about our global challenges.
These changes are in part because of climate change amplifying environmental disturbances. Historically, it’s been difficult to access detailed, up-to-date land cover data which documents how much of a region is covered with different land and water types such as wetlands. Google Earth a more detailed understanding of earth’s land than ever before. ( Google Earth Pro ): So current datasets might classify a satellite image of a city as ‘built-up,’. But visit any city and you’ll see our world is far more dynamic. While you might see lots of buildings. You’ll also see trees or even snow on the ground from a recent storm. Manage and restore land and monitor the effectiveness of those plans using alert systems to notify when unforeseen land changes are taking place. Not only is our world more dynamic than individual land types it’s also constantly changing. This means that not only is the land cover information in Dynamic World more detailed. But it’s also more timely within any given day. Week or month than existing datasets. This level of detail allows scientists and policymakers to detect and quantify the extent of recent events anywhere on the globe such as snowstorms, wildfires or volcanic eruptions within days.
An Inside Look at Google Earth Timelapse – Earthtopomaps
) 3 ways Liza Goldberg uses Timelapse to explore the planet
Liza Goldberg has a big-picture view of climate change and it all started with satellite imagery. In high school she started an internship at NASA, where she built a program that used satellite imagery and Google Earth Engine.
A platform for geospatial analysis, to monitor the loss of mangrove forests.
This gave her a whole new perspective of planetary changes.
“I was seeing the world through a different lens,” Liza says.
B) 3 ways Liza Goldberg uses Timelapse to explore the planet
“Without images, it’s hard to visualize what things like urbanization, deforestation. Wildfires and rise in temperatures mean to our planet just using statistics and data doesn’t get the message across. I wanted to bring a new perspective to others.” Liza is now a freshman at Stanford University and runs Cloud to Classroom, a program that uses satellite imagery to help teach students around the world about climate change.
Today, that birds-eye view of the planet is available to even more people with the launch of Timelapse in Google Earth.
For the first time. 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years have been embedded directly into Google Earth, creating an explorable view of our planet over time. Now anyone can watch time across the globe. And that perspective can be enough to inspire anyone to take action — just like it inspired Liza. READ ARTICLETime flies in Google Earth’s biggest update in yearsIn the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017. You can now see our planet in an entirely new dimension time.
C) 3 ways Liza Goldberg uses Timelapse to explore the planet
“If we want to solve climate challenges, the bottom line is we need to take this information out of scientific papers and put it into the hands of the public so they can make positive change in their local areas,” Liza adds.
As someone who has spent a lot of time looking at satellite imagery of the Earth, Liza has a few pointers for how to explore the planet with Timelapse and put these changes into context. She shares some of her tips here:
3 ways Liza Goldberg uses Timelapse to explore the planet
Zoom in on your community
If you’re a teacher, reporter, student or just someone exploring Timelapse, start looking at the places you care about. Use the search bar function to zero in on a region you know really well whether it’s the city you grew up in. The place your grandparents are from or where you spent your summers growing up. Seeing the changes at a more personal level contextualizes what global environmental change actually means right now. And what it could mean in the future of your local community.
Take a look at how Cape Cod, Massachusetts has changed from above.
D) 3 ways Liza Goldberg uses Timelapse to explore the planet
Look for the patterns
The patterns are everywhere. You can see how the same trends like rapid changes from wildfires are taking place on the West Coast of the U.S. . And across the world in Australia. Start with the curated videos from Google that show the story of change related to forest change, urban growth. Warming temperatures and more. Then start to look for other trends you see happening across the world. It can be an exercise in unity to see what communities are experiencing here and elsewhere. And see how these changes transcend communities and ecosystems.
See how urbanization changes the landscape.
Soak up the fragile beauty of it all
The Timelapse videos are like vignettes of art — enjoy them. Take a step back and remember that this is our planet and it’s worth protecting. For me. Videos like the meandering rivers are captivating. The ability to watch the planet change over time is now in the hands of everyone. And that makes me optimistic.
A Google Earth Timelapse of a meandering river over time.
From Liza’s perspective, technology like this can help affect change. In fact, she’s even started to focus more on studying computer science and plans to use those skills to tackle the big issues she cares most about. Like climate change