Watch three decades of Tampa Bay progress in 10 seconds via Google Earth Engine

Google Earth Timelapse allows users to look at the changes to any place on earth since 1984. [Google Earth Timelapse]
Google Earth Timelapse allows users to look at the changes to any place on earth since 1984. [Google Earth Timelapse]
Published Dec. 1, 2016

Google Earth Timelapse has been around since 2013, but the tool that allows anyone to see how any place on Earth has changed over the decades got a massive update this week.

Google announced Monday that it used its Google Earth Engine to add petabytes of new data that included four more years of imagery. That includes fresh images from two new satellites, Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2, as well as more images from the past that were part of the Landsat Global Archive.

From Google's announcement: "We took the best of all those pixels to create 33 images of the entire planet, one for each year. We then encoded these new 3.95 terapixel global images into just over 25,000,000 overlapping multi-resolution video tiles, made interactively explorable by Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab's Time Machine library, a technology for creating and viewing zoomable and pannable timelapses over space and time."

The result is a better-than-ever look at how the entire planet has changed from 1984 to 2016, including extensive development in the Tampa Bay area and all of Florida.

For instance, here's a timelapse of the New Tampa area. The roads that create a sort of upside down V (with the top cut off) in the center of the map are Interstate 275 on the left, and Interstate 75 on the right. The highway that cuts across diagonally, intersecting with Interstate 75 in almost the dead center of the map, is Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, running through Tampa Palms on the west side of Interstate 75, and New Tampa to the east side of it. That entire corridor goes from open, green space to totally developed over the 32-year lapse.


If we go a little bit north from there, we see Wesley Chapel and more of Pasco County, which has undergone an even more drastic transformation since 1984.

It's harder to see the changes when looking at central Tampa, which was already developed in the '80s, but the Tampa International Airport, in the upper, center left, is possibly the most striking example within the city.

However, in the Brandon area the timelapse reveals a huge amount of development over the years. The large highway running north to south in the center of this map is Interstate 75. The larger loop near the bottom of I-75 is the ramp for the Selmon Expressway, and the smaller loop to the north of that is the ramp for State Road 60, also known as Brandon Boulevard.

Between those two spots, to the east of the interstate, is the location of the Westfield Brandon Mall.

But there's probably no place in Florida where the growth appears more stunning than in The Villages. Once a vast swath of pastures, the Sumter County retirement has grown into one of the largest in the world.

You can search the Google Earth Timelapse yourself for any location around the globe, or check out some of the more compelling spots they've already rounded up, at