NASA Earth time lapse shows 20 years of seasonal changes in 2.5 minutes

A new NASA time lapse shows 20 years of seasonal landscape changes around the globe, condensing the years down to a mere 2.5 minutes. Though NASA is known primarily for its space missions, the agency focuses extensively on Earth science, too, training a variety of satellites down toward our own planet. The content presented in this new video was gathered by NASA satellites every year since 1997.

NASA has spent the past week showing off videos of our planet to highlight the life that exists on it and what we can learn about it from space. The video below is perhaps the best demonstration of that, showing a full two decades of plant life and death across every portion of land, as well as changes to the ocean.

Every year, NASA's satellites track the green vegetation as it grows — seemingly spreading — across portions of our planet. This starts in the Northern Hemisphere in the spring time, coming and going with the changing of the seasons. At the same time, blooms in the ocean bring about swirls of color via the satellites' light-detecting instruments.

Though NASA has been keeping tabs on Earth life since the 1970s, it wasn't until 20 years ago that it began tracking this continuously, an effort made possible with the arrival of its Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor called SeaWiFS in 1997. Thanks to the data, scientists are able to monitor forests, crops, fisheries and more around the world.

The imagery also helps climate scientists keep tabs on the effects that warming oceans have on our planet. The changes in temperature have resulted in more green matter in the Arctic; the shrubs have extended beyond their typical range as areas become warmer than they were in past years.

Talking about this is NASA oceanographer Gene Carl Feldman who said, "These are incredibly evocative visualization of our living planet. 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."