Google timelapse: Watch how your city has changed over 32 years

Johannesburg - Search giant Google has released a time-lapse of Earth over the past 32 years from 1984 to 2016, showing changes in landscape and terrain.  

Google's 'Timelapse' on its Earth Engine website is a zoomable video of the world that allows for users to see how the globe has transformed since 1984 with a cloudless view of each country.

“It is made from 33 cloud-free annual mosaics, one for each year from 1984 to 2016, which are made interactively explorable by Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab's Time Machine library, a technology for creating and viewing zoomable and pannable timelapses over space and time,” the Google Earth Engine website read. 

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Earth Engine combines over 5 million satellite images acquired over the past three decades by 5 different satellites.

The majority of the images come from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that has observed the Earth since the 1970s. 

“For 2015 and 2016, we combined Landsat 8 imagery with imagery from Sentinel-2A, part of the European Commission and European Space Agency's Copernicus Earth observation program,” it went further to say.

Timelapse allows users to search, pan, or zoom around the world.

A broad view of South Africa shows minor changes to the terrain in the country, while a more zoomed in view of cities being developed. 

By utilising older satellites to map the world, progression through the decades through to 2016 is seen with a clearer view of cities and buildings similar to the quality seen on Google Maps today. The maps have a view of 1km above the ground. 

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“Timelapse is an example that illustrates the power of Earth Engine’s cloud-computing model, which enables users such as scientists, researchers, and journalists to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth's surface using Google’s computational infrastructure and the multi-petabyte Earth Engine data catalog,” the company said. 

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