Google has just released an interesting tool for tracking environmental changes through satellite imagery.
Google has put together some pre-made views and below I’ve pasted the animations from North America. There’s also a description of each animation in this article in Time.
Las Vegas urban growth
Wyoming coal mining
Columbia glacier retreat
I found the Las Vegas view most striking. It’s similar to an animation of the city’s growth that I wrote about here.
What’s really cool about this tool is that you can zoom in to any area on the globe and see how the landscape has been evolving. I focused in on Tucson, where I lived for many years, and I could easily see the growth, especially new golf courses in the desert, as well as the scars left behind by wildfires that struck the nearby Santa Catalina range from 2002 to 2004.
Unfortunately, you can’t zoom in very close with the Timelapse tool, and it doesn’t look like there’s a way to save your own animation. But maybe that’s coming?
I noticed that the Google Earth Engine site also provides an interesting data set on roadless areas that shows places around the globe that are more than 1 kilometer from a road, railway, or navigable river. Below is a screen shot of the dataset, which I’d like to explore further.
Global roadless areas
- LandScope America: a tool to visualize land conservation
- Timber harvest falls in national forests
- Human footprint maps of Western states and cities
- Lay of the land: who owns the West?
- The human footprint in the American West
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