Google Earth is a safe place to go if you want to know what the Earth looks like from above. But how has it changed over the past 40 years? You can watch this in various time-lapse videos on Google Earth.

Many people probably remember Google Earth as one of the first tools they ever tried on the Internet. Back then you still had to spend a long time dialing in via modems and the internet wasn't particularly fast either.

That's all changed quite a bit, but Google Earth is still in place. The service documents how the earth's surface changes over the years and now shows in numerous videos how the earth has changed in fast motion over the last 40 years.

40 years in time lapse on Google Earth

The first images on Google Earth date back to 1984. Google recently updated images from 2021 and 2022. These show almost four decades of the history of the earth's surface.

“Timelapse in Google Earth is a global, zoomable time-lapse video of the planet that provides evidence of Earth's dynamic changes,” explains Google Earth program manager Chris Herwig in a blog post.

From irrigation systems emerging in the deserts of Egypt to meandering rivers shifting over time in the Amazon rainforest in Pucallpa, Peru, to volcanic eruptions, deforestation and wildfires changing the landscape of California's Lassen National Forest.

All these changes can be seen on the interactive 4D map. According to Herwig, Google Earth “created this from millions of satellite photos”.

Google provides more than 800 time-lapse videos

If you don't want to have to find your way around the 4D map yourself, you can also use one of the existing time-lapse videos. Google has collected more than 800 time-lapse videos from more than 300 locations around the world in a library.

From researchers to teachers, everyone can use these videos to better understand our changing planet.

The library of time-lapse videos is sorted alphabetically. Here you can also filter by region or specific topics such as “forest” or “agriculture”.

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