Google has released a big update to the historical imagery feature available only through Google Earth 5. The historical imagery contains a massive amount of imagery which surpasses the data you already see when viewing Google Earth satellite and aerial imagery by default. Google has basically been archiving the imagery they used in previous releases of imagery since 2005, plus historical imagery they’ve acquired from many sources for some places going back decades old. It’s hard to express just how big this data really is – we’re talking many, many terabytes (terrabytes?) of data! One terabyte is 1,000,000,000,000 bytes.
When GE 5 was first released, the bulk of the new historical imagery was concentrated on the US. There were places with new historical imagery all over the globe, but it wasn’t pervasive. Now there is even more historical imagery all over the globe. Google mentions a few locations in their LatLong post to check out: watch the construction of the Dubai man-made archipelago known as “The World“, witness the deforestation of the Amazon forests, see what happened to New Orleans when Katrina flooded the city. Unfortunately, they neglected to include a Google Earth file so you could find and see the imagery yourself. So, check out all three of these locations here in a quick tour (you must have GE 5 installed, and turn on “Historical Imagery“).
Deforestation of Amazon
I haven’t been able to determine the full scale of this new update. But, there seems to be many more historical instances between 2000 and the present for rural areas around the globe (mostly strips of satellite photography from DigitalGlobe). Perhaps Google wasn’t finished with processing all of this data before the GE 5 release. But, now its there. If anyone finds other interesting locations with historical imagery, please leave a comment here. Particularly interesting ones I’ll write about in future posts and make tours so others can check them out.
By the way, I also discovered Google added the historical image of the predator drones in Pakistan which Stefan was talking about last month. Visit this location and check out the oldest historical image.