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5 Fascinating Google Earth Time-Lapse Videos Show 32 Years of Climate Change
Google Earth has added four years of new data along with high-resolution satellite imagery to its time-lapse feature, which is available to anyone who wants to see how the planet has changed since 1984. You'll see glaciers receding, cities growing and lakes shrinking.
Satellite data now ranges from 1984 to 2016 and includes more than 5 million satellite images from the past 32 years by five different satellites. Most of the images come from Landsat 8. Launched by NASA in 2013, it orbits 438 miles above the Earth, imaging the entire planet every 16 days. Additional images come from Sentinel-2, launched in 2015 by the European Space Agency to provide environmental monitoring.
Google combined these images into one cloud-free mosaic for each year. They are completely pannable and zoomable, and you can try it out for yourself with the Google Earth Engine time-lapse tour editor. Here's a sampling of some fascinating time-lapses provided by Google Earth Engine.
Watch how Fort McMurray has changed as tar sands oil development has grown. In May 2016, an out-of-control wildfire erupted in this area, causing the mass evacuation of 100,000 people:
This time-lapse reveals the rapid shrinkage of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska, which has retreated 10 miles since 1982:
The Aral Sea was once one of the four largest freshwater lakes in the world. By 2007, it had shrunk to one-tenth of its former size. Now, China's Poyang Lake is following the same fate:
Watch how Las Vegas has grown as Lake Mead has shrunk. A reservoir that serves 20 million people, it reached its lowest level ever in 2015:
China's city of Chongqing has grown to 30 million inhabitants, swallowing up the landscape:
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The world awakened to the hole in the ozone layer in 1985, which scientists attributed it to ozone depleting substances. Two years later, in Montreal, the world agreed to ban the halogen compounds causing the massive hole over Antarctica. Research now shows that those chemicals didn't just cut a hole in the ozone layer, they also warmed up the Arctic.
Formosa Plant May Still Be Releasing Plastic Pollution in Texas After $50M Settlement, Activists Find
On the afternoon of Jan. 15, activist Diane Wilson kicked off a San Antonio Estuary Waterkeeper meeting on the side of the road across from a Formosa plastics manufacturing plant in Point Comfort, Texas.
After Wilson and the waterkeeper successfully sued Formosa in 2017, the company agreed to no longer release even one of the tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles into the region's waterways. The group of volunteers had assembled that day to check whether the plant was still discharging these raw materials of plastics manufacturing.
Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It Won’t Be 'the Rubbish Dump of the World'
The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.