New Google Earth timelapses show impact of human life on planet
New Google Earth timelapses show changes to planet - The Columbia Glacier in Alaska is among the sites visited in new timelapse videos from Google Earth illustrating the impact of human life on the planet. - Google/dpa
New Google Earth timelapses show changes to planet - The Columbia Glacier in Alaska is among the sites visited in new timelapse videos from Google Earth illustrating the impact of human life on the planet. - Google/dpa

Google Earth, the online atlas you once used to look up your house and then never returned to, has gained a new feature relevant to all humanity, one that depicts the impact of human life on the planet.

Urban expansion, mining, deforestation and agricultural development - a new timelapse function on the website lets you watch decades of change to specific regions in a few eye-opening seconds.

In 800 timelapse videos \- pulled together from 24 million satellite images over 37 years - you can see how glaciers melt, cities grow and the rainforest recedes.

Google Earth chief Rebecca Moore said the latest function was not about zooming in, but about zooming out - to get an image of the state of the planet.

To clearly illustrate the change over time, all videos are viewable in eagle-eye perspectives ("2D") and rotating panoramas ("3D").

The timelapses cover regions on all continents and Google says more and more videos will be added every year. Users can also create their own videos and share them with others.