NASA Captured Earth “Breathing” Over the Last 20 Years

This passed month, NASA released a visual time lapse like no other. A seen by satellites, the 2 ½ minute video packs in the Earth’s physical changes over the last 20 years. Unsurprisingly, the Earth can be seen to undergo changes as the seasons develop, but added to that, there are key differences noted during the same seasons over the duration of the two-decade examination. Observations like plant life on land and within the ocean, along with the recession of polar ice caps are main focal points of the project.

Undersea life is depicted with colors ranging from green, blue, red, and purple. The colors describe the abundance of life respectively. Scientists were able to identify an algae bloom in the Pacific along the equator between the years 1997-1998. This is shown in the video with a large green line, representing positive biology growth. However, Lake Erie can be seen with alarming amounts of red and yellow, representing contaminating blooms.

The most expected realization from the map was the deterioration of ice caps over time in both the Northern Hemisphere and the Artic. Hopefully this data will help policymakers focus in on the most concerning changes happening to our Earth and prioritize when it comes to rules and regulations.

Jeremy Werdell, a NASA oceanographer that took part in the visualization project also was able to point out that spring was coming earlier in the Northern Hemisphere, and fall was lasting much longer over the years. While it took three months to complete the two-minute video, Werdell sees it as a major breakthrough. He says that “it’s like watching the Earth breathe. It’s really remarkable.”

The instruments used in the making of the visualization include NASA/NOAA Visible infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Credits: NASA. The technology is extremely high-tech, but scientists predict the imaging we see now will increase in quality and clarity over the years. This video, and all similar future global change visualizations are going to be used to analyze phytoplankton populations, examine the ever-changing vegetation structure in the Artic, analyze crop yields, and monitor the undersea environment.

The two and a half minute video shows a very gradual change, but important nonetheless. It can be viewed on varying platforms online under the name “Our Living Planet From Space”.


  1. I am running a nanosatellite design team and we’re looking for inspiration. How can we use satellites to help care for the earth? Any ideas out there?

    1. Use the satellites to located the deepest hemotriphsvin the ocean the expell methane and innnovate a way to use those methane expelled and turn it into clean sustainable energy without the invention of fracking or destroying biological life found in deep sea

      Convert the satellite to laser communication for tele com here on earth so it travels the speed of light

      Assist in finding the best locations for solar and renewable energy

      Aid spacex in the colonization of mars build the video audio communication from mars to earth and have it prepared for first flight. Expand your satelllite to enable ships or rockets to refuel quickly in mid space gas station.

      Satellites can do a lot as well as not enough. They can communicate locate gps do some sciences based observations but observations help in understanding but not mending the problems on earth. Figure out how that sattelite can beam light spectrum lasers at rainforests that can aid in there growth food photosynthesis. Go back to the basics of physics. Go back to your original goal of helping us live comfortably by somehow lowering costs for crops food and living instead of having our tax dolllars sit as a machine that floats around us observing. People observe. People innovate and all people would like just happiness. Deliver a future for us now 20year observation for a 20secons video ok cool. Millions spent for the creation of the video no matter how super cool could’ve been used in much better ways. If your going for space go all the way sort of like Elon and execute other then that fix problems on earth. Intelligence created that satellite to see one or two things i don’t think it was very intelligent to heart to build it for just this observation. You didn’t change anyone’s life might have observed cool stuff. But we all age the Same eat the same way and will die. That money would’ve benefited more if it went to a building healthy restraunts at the least. Bye

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