NASA Time Lapse Video Shows How Earth Has Changed Over 20 Years

Posted: Nov 18 2017, 2:59pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 18 2017, 3:06pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
NASA Time Lapse Video Shows How Earth has Changed Over 20 Years
Credit: NASA

This fall marks 20 years since NASA has continuously observed our planet from space

A time-lapse video from NASA has given us a stunning look at how life on Earth has changed over the years.

NASA has been continuously monitoring physical properties of Earth from space since 1997. The new time-lapse video is stitched togehter by using those satellite observations. While NASA and other agencies are observing Earth through satellite since 1970s, the global view was not dynamic until the launch of the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) in 1997.

The new video reveals in startling detail the changes our land and oceans have experienced over the past two decades.

“These are incredibly evocative visualizations of our living planet,” said Gene Carl Feldman, an oceanographer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “That’s the Earth, that is it breathing every single day, changing with the seasons, responding to the Sun, to the changing winds, ocean currents and temperatures."

The advances in observing the world’s land and ocean life have revolutionized scientists' understanding of crop, forest and fisheries around the globe. These observations not only provide a much clearer picture of Earth physical features but they can also help address questions about the impact of global warming and the response of local ecosystems to a changing climate.

“As the satellite archive expands, you see more and more dynamics emerging,” said Jeffrey Masek, chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA. “We’re now able to look at long-term trends.”

Not that long ago, in the 60s, people were not sure that Earth’s surface could be seen clearly from space. Many thought that the dust particles and other aerosols in the atmosphere would obscure the view below. However, cutting-edge satellite technology is capable of tracking subtle changes on both land and ocean’s surface and allows scientists to routinely analyze consequences.

“The entire Eastern Pacific, from the coast of South America all the way to the dateline, transitioned from what was the equivalent of a biological desert to a thriving rainforest. And we watched it happen in real time,” said Feldman. “For me, that was the first demonstration of the power of this kind of observation, to see how the ocean responds to one of the most significant environmental perturbations it could experience, over the course of just a few weeks. It also showed that the ocean and all the life within it is amazingly resilient — if given half a chance.”

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