Google Earth’s Newest Feature: Time-Lapse Back 37 Years

Google Earth has recently added an exciting, new feature to its system that allows users to go back 37 years in time and have a look at how the Earth has changed. Debuting in April 2021, this is the biggest update that Google has added so far, and took more than two-million hours for computers to complete. The images collated essentially form one large video – and it is believed to be the biggest video the Earth has ever seen!

The equivalent of more than half a million 4K high-resolution videos, the new time-lapse feature enables users to go as far back as the 1980s. Considering the size of the project, Google would not have been able to complete the new feature without help from its space agency partners including NASA, the US Geological Survey’s Landsat Project and the EU’S Copernicus project. Unlike Google Maps which is more focused on transportation and getting people around, Google Earth is geared towards geology and exploring how the Earth’s landscape has changed over time. The time-lapse feature spans seven decades and shows the effects of climate change and human contribution to the Earth – it’s consequences and achievements alike. From the sprawling city of Dubai to the melting of glaciers, the new feature aims to raise awareness about climate change and could even become a tool in classrooms for students to interact with. In a statement about the feature’s ability to capture the effects of climate and environmental change, Google stated that, “”We have a clearer picture of our changing planet right at our fingertips – one that shows not just problems but also solutions, as well as mesmerisingly beautiful natural phenomena that unfold over decades.”[1]

The time-lapse feature is an impressive addition to Google’s renowned systems and houses a surprising amount of historical data. It comes at a time when climate change and environmental issues are starting to be taken more seriously and more companies veer towards a greener future.


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