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Google Earth, the service to consult satellite images of the Earth, has added a new “Timelapse” function to observe the changes in large portions of the territory in recent decades. The system allows you to select a geographic area and then scroll through the satellite images of that area collected over the years, stored and mapped by Google. A similar function existed previously, but it was less simple to use and more limited.
Timelapse can be used through the browser version of Google Earth, both to do research on specific areas of the planet, and to observe a selection of places chosen by Google and divided into thematic areas.
For example, it is possible to observe the evolution over time of some metropolises such as Beijing (China), New York (United States) and Osaka (Japan), or verify the changes in the territory due to deforestation, mining activities, the construction of new infrastructure and the effects of climate change on glaciers.
To make Timelapse, Google added approximately 24 million satellite images to its service, collected over a period of time between 1984 and 2020. The images were then merged and superimposed, so as to match the places in the course. of their evolution.
The images of the early Eighties are less defined than the more recent ones, but it is still possible to appreciate the change of the territory, especially on a large scale.
The service was made possible in part thanks to the availability of numerous satellite images in the public domain, provided by collaborations and Earth observation programs in the United States and the European Union. Many images derive from the US Landsat program and the European Copernicus program, one of the most important consortia for the study of the Earth from Space.