The Landsat Satellite Program has collected remotely-sensed images of the earth from space for the past four decades. Google Earth recently harnessed the power of these images to allow users to see how places have changed over the years. Using the Google Earth Engine, you can create your own time lapse animations of specific locations and watch their changes from 1984-2012. This tool is especially powerful for visualizing urban development, deforestation, and even the decline of glaciers.
Found below is a screenshot of an animation that I created depicting the changes in Athens, GA over the past 28 years. Click on the image to view the animation, then zoom in to the 2km level to get an up close look. You can also adjust the speed of the animation so that you cycle through the years slowly or quickly:
Cool, eh? Now go ahead and try it yourself! You can create an animation of anywhere that can then be linked or embedded on most blogs or website. Just go to Google Earth Engine and type in the name of any location.
Try out some of these other animations to watch some of the drastic changes that have recently taken place across the globe:
– The Growth of Las Vegas
– Wyoming Coal Mining
– Saudi Arabian Irrigation
– The Drying of Lake Urmia, Iran
– Deforestation in the Amazon
– The Columbia Glacier Retreat
– Coastal Expansion in Dubai
– The Drying of the Aral Sea