Google Earth Announces New 3D Timelapse Feature

According to the latest news, Google Earth is going to get a new 3D Timelapse feature that lets you observe how Earth has changed from 1984 to 2020. You will be able to see the toll of climate change on the earth.

This week, in a call with reporters, Rebecca Moore, the director of Google Earth, Google Earth Engine, and Google Earth Outreach said “It’s best for a landscape view of our world. It’s not about zooming in. It’s about zooming out. It’s about taking the big step back. We need to see how our only home is doing.”

Google calls the feature “Timelapse”. It will be made available on Google Earth from Thursday onwards. In order to access it, all you have to do is launch Google Earth and then click or tap on the Voyager tab. If you are unaware, the Voyager tab comes with a ship’s wheel look-alike icon. There, you will be able to search the place of your interest or check out one of Google’s five “guided tours”. The five guided tours are forest change tour, urban growth tour, warming temperatures tour, mining and renewable energy sources tour, and “the Earth’s fragile beauty” tour.

Google Earth

In order to get an idea about how this Timelapse feature works, you can check out the Tim lapse GIF of the changing shores of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, or that of Columbia Glacier’s retreat from Google. According to Google, in order to create the 3D Timelapse imagery for Google Earth, it has used more than 24 million satellite images taken from 1984 to 2020. With those, Google created one 4.4 terapixel sized video mosaic. You would be surprised to know that one terapixel is equal to 1 million megapixels. To collect the data points used in the time lapses, Google worked with NASA, the US Geological Survey (USGS), the European Commission, and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Moore said, “Timelapse and Google Earth sits at the nexus of science, technology, public-private partnerships, and the next generation as we think about both climate change and climate action”.

Google Earth

Note that this is not the Google Earth team’s first-ever Timelapse feature because back in May 2013, the team released a time-lapse feature displaying 2D images of Earth from 1984 to 2012. After that, Google updated the image in November 2016. This time, Google is offering 3D images with better details.

As of now, Google has released 800 Timelapse videos of different areas around the planet and all are available for free downloads at open source. Google believes these will be used widely by teachers, students, non-profit organizations, policymakers, and others.