Google Earth Timelapse unfolds four decades of planetary change

Google Earth has updated its Timelapse feature with images from 2021 and 2022. An interactive map from millions of satellite images now lets you witness devastating changes, such as California wildfires and ​​Amazon deforestation.

You can watch the changes spanning nearly four decades by visiting Google Earth or checking its gallery of over 800 videos from around 300 locations.

On Google Earth, you can search for a location or a topic you are interested in or select one of the following categories: Urban expansion, Sources of energy, Warming planet, Fragile beauty, and Changing forests.

Its urban expansion category took me to Las Vegas, saying its population has quintupled in the past 40 years.

“Despite the city’s slogan, what happens in Vegas does have external effects. To the east, the shrinking Lake Mead supplies 90 percent of the city’s drinking water. Notice how the lake changes as the years go by. Urbanization in other cities throughout the region, agriculture and increased temperatures have placed further strain on the shrinking lake. Also note the "bathtub ring" around the banks, showing where water levels once reached,” Google said.

Teachers and researchers can use the videos to understand the changing planet better and even use the imagery to convey the effects of these changes in documentaries like The Territory.

By exploring the Google Earth timelapse feature, you can see irrigation systems emerging in the deserts of Egypt, witness wildfires changing California’s landscape, and see countries like Spain or Denmark building renewable energy power plants to combat climate change.

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