10 years is just a blink of the ever-watching galactic eye
June 4, 2009 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Inspired by its 10th anniversary, the Earth Observatory has pulled together a special series of NASA satellite images documenting how the world has changed. From these images, Wired Science has made 5 videos, presenting convenient time-lapse views of the world changing (mainly) because of human actions. Watch the urbanization of Dubai, specifically the growth of Palm Jumeirah. See the Aral Sea dry up - once the fourth largest lake, down to 10 percent of its original size (marked by the thin black line in the video) by 2007. View the clearing the Amazon, as observed from above the state of Rondônia in western Brazil. Behold the return of Mesopotamia's Wetlands, now in the process of being restored from near total destruction under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Witness the impact of drought on Southern Utah's Lake Powell, where water level dropped from 20 million to 8 million acre-feet from 2000 to 2005.
posted by filthy light thief (11 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Bonus timelapse video from still images: a montage of New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco, built of 428 Google Earth screenshots of images originally recorded between 1968 and 2009. The changes are not quite as dramatic, possibly because the scope is larger and the details finer.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:12 PM on June 4, 2009

And an additional note: I provided handy direct links to the videos to append the &fmt=18 "high quality" youtube tag to each video.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:14 PM on June 4, 2009

Yes, this is a very epic post. Time-lapse video is certainly illustrative of the way things change over time on a meta-level.
posted by elder18 at 2:18 PM on June 4, 2009

Previous Aral Sea post.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:45 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Incredible post. Thank you!
posted by vibrotronica at 2:58 PM on June 4, 2009

wow. that's amazing. appreciate the post & all the links.
posted by msconduct at 4:50 PM on June 4, 2009

Very neat. Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 5:06 PM on June 4, 2009

Rassa-frassa frigga-fragga. Wired did nothing fancy that the NASA Earth Observatory didn't already have set up, except Wired Science added fades and posted the videos on YouTube, where NASA's set-up uses a javascript and is based on still images hosted on their own site. Here are the same videos as above, but displayed by NASA Earth Observatory, just click the "play" link below the images per year link, and watch the images cycle.

* Urbanization of Dubai from 2000 through 2009
* Aral Sea dries up from 200 through 2009
* Clearing the Amazon from 2000 through 2008
* Return of Mesopotamia's Wetlands from 2000 through 2009
* Drought impacting Lake Powell from 1999 through 20009

The site also has
* Antarctic Ozone Hole from 1979 through 2008 (minus 1995)
* Antarctic Sea Ice from 1999/2000 through 2008/2009
* Solar Activity from 1999 through 2009

I guess Wired Science chose the image sets they did for the angle of "man's impact on the earth," though Mesopotamia's wetlands are generally improving (except in 2009, when things apparently got a bit drier), and Lake Powell wasn't a man-made effort: drought is cyclical, though decreased water usage could have helped to keep water levels highier).
posted by filthy light thief at 5:18 PM on June 4, 2009

Too. Damn. Many. People.
posted by pakoothefakoo at 6:12 PM on June 4, 2009

The NOAA also has a lot of animated Earth weather imagery--their animation gallery is here.
posted by Upton O'Good at 7:06 PM on June 4, 2009

Tremendous videos. Great post. I was shocked at the appearance of the "palm" in the Duabi video. Just wow.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:16 AM on June 6, 2009

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