The Timelapse function in Google Earth makes it possible to visualize global warming in 3D: "The summary gets tangible"

The Timelapse function in Google Earth makes it possible to visualize global warming in 3D: “The summary gets tangible”

Until then, the functionality had only existed in 2D. Now it’s a 3D visualization that lets you go back in time. And to gauge how the environment has changed for nearly 40 years.

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On June 11, Google Earth will celebrate its 20th anniversary. 20 years, indeed … we’ve all tried to see what the world looks like in satellite imagery collected by the Silicon Valley giant. Google introduced the new 3D Timelapse feature, which lets you see the development of a city or region from 1984 to 2020.

With a single computer, it would have taken more than two centuries to process 24 million satellite images retrieved from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). But since Google was Google, a few days were enough to work on this info, millions of megabytes. The Silicon Valley giant has not failed to point out the technological challenge.

Amazon rainforest retreat in Mato Grosso (Brazil), similar to the Timelapse function in Google Earth.  (The Google)

The result is a “time lapse,” which is a time-lapse 3D video sequence that tracks the evolution of the planet over four decades. For the Internet user, the immersion is amazing: while the video is playing, he can zoom in and change his point of view.

So far, Google has only offered time travel in two dimensions, with satellite imagery. Rebecca Moore, President, Google Earth: “3D makes the experience more immersive and more compelling. We can see global warming with our own eyes. Timelapse converts a massive amount of satellite data into an easy-to-understand picture. The summary becomes tangible. Hopefully these images can get everyone to agree on what’s going on and prompt the work “.

Rebecca Moore relies particularly on an example Columbia Glacier, Alaska. The 3D video clearly shows how the ice retreated 19 kilometers in just 37 years.

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