Dubai coast, artificial islands. Image source: Earth Observatory / NASA
In the mid-1980s, when the Timelapse images begin, Dubai was a small desert city of about 300,000 people, overshadowed by nearby Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. What growth Dubai had experienced was mostly recent; in the 1950s it was little more than a village, with pearl diving its chief industry. Today, Dubai’s population exceeds 2.1 million, and the metropolis has asserted itself as the financial center of the Middle East. Explore a global timelapse of our planet, constructed from Landsat satellite imagery. Witness two palm trees and a map of the world appear as islands off the coast of Dubai. Imagery: Google
Google has released some stunning time-lapse images of our changing planet, highlighting some of the most startling impacts made by humans.
The project, called Timelapse, was undertaken in conjunction with Time, NASA and the United States Geological Survey. Satellite images taken by the Landsat Program from 1984 to 2012 have been compressed from trillions of pixels into small GIFs and a zoomable map.
“Today, we’re making it possible for you to go back in time and get a stunning historical perspective on the changes to the Earth’s surface over time. Working with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA and TIME, we’re releasing more than a quarter-century of images of Earth taken from space, compiled for the first time into an interactive time-lapse experience. We believe this is the most comprehensive picture of our changing planet ever made available to the public.
Built from millions of satellite images and trillions of pixels, you can explore this global, zoomable time-lapse map as part of TIME’s new Timelapse project. View stunning phenomena such as the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, the deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon and urban growth in Las Vegas from 1984 to 2012:
The images were collected as part of an ongoing joint mission between the USGS and NASA called Landsat. Their satellites have been observing earth from space since the 1970s—with all of the images sent back to Earth and archived on USGS tape drives that look something like this example (courtesy of the USGS).”—GOOGLE
VIEW IMAGERY: GOOGLE
World Time Lapse, The Time (Larger views)
These Timelapse pictures tell the pretty and not-so-pretty story of a finite planet and how its residents are treating it, razing even as we build, destroying even as we preserve. It takes a certain amount of courage to look at the videos, but once you start, it’s impossible to look away.
Landsat Images Provide the Gold Standard for New Earth Applications: >USGS
Images from Landsat satellites provided free to the public by the Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey were the starting points for “a new breakthrough” reported today by Time and announced on the Official Google Blog. Using its Earth Engine technology, Google has compiled decades of Landsat images into a new, interactive time-lapse experience.
“This news is the latest example of how the Department of the Interior’s policy of unrestricted access and free distribution of Landsat satellite imagery to the public fosters innovation and mutual awareness of environmental conditions around the globe,” said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “The 40-year archive of Landsat images of every spot on earth is a treasure trove of scientific information that can form the basis for a myriad of useful applications by commercial enterprises, government scientists and managers, the academic community, and the public at large.”
Other commercial products, such as ESRI’s Change Matters, also utilize Landsat imagery, providing data for a deeper geographic understanding of the changing world.
Landsat data can assist a broad range of specialists in managing the world’s food, water, forests, and other natural resources for a growing world population. The Landsat images contain many layers of data collected at different points along the visible and invisible light spectrum. Consequently, they can show where vegetation is thriving and where it is stressed, where droughts are occurring, where wildland fire is a danger, and where erosion has altered coastlines or river courses.
Landsat satellites provide a view as broad as 12,000 square miles per scene while describing land cover in pixels the size of a baseball diamond. From a distance of more than 400 miles above the earth surface, a single Landsat scene can record the condition of hundreds of thousands of acres of grassland, agricultural crops, or forests.
“With its long-term historical record of the entire globe and widely recognized high quality of data, Landsat is valued all over the world as the gold standard of land observation,” said Castle.
Ready access to authoritative Landsat images provides a reliable common record of Earth conditions that advances the mutual understanding of environmental challenges by citizens, researchers, and decision makers around the globe.
USGS and NASA have distinct roles in the Landsat program. NASA develops remote-sensing instruments and spacecraft, launches satellites, and validates their performance. The USGS then assumes ownership and operation. For example, USGS will operate the newest satellite in the Landsat series – Landsat 8 – starting on May 30, 2013, following a successful launch from the Vandenberg AFB on February 11, 2013.
For More Information
See the USGS website for more information on Landsat and to view the entire image gallery
See today’s Google Blog to learn about Google’s announcement, the Google Earth Engine and how to explore the new global, zoomable time-lapse map as part of TIME Magazine’s new TIMElapse project
Read the Time Magazine article TIME and Space
For another example of the application of Landsat imagery, go to ESRI’s Change Matters
Learn more about NASA and the Landsat Program.
Earth engine Google
LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-google-timelapses-satellite-images-taken-3-decades-20130509,0,1411811.story
Much has happened to the planet since 1984, and now Google has come up with a way to have a spectacular, bird’s-eye view of the changes.
In partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA and Time magazine, Google has put together a website that features high-quality satellite pictures of Earth for every year since 1984 for every part of the world.
In the mid-1980s, when the Timelapse images begin, Dubai was a small desert city of about 300,000 people, overshadowed by nearby Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. What growth Dubai had experienced was mostly recent; in the 1950s it was little more than a village, with pearl diving its chief industry. Today, Dubai’s population exceeds 2.1 million, and the metropolis has asserted itself as the financial center of the Middle East.