25 September 2023

Time lapse video downloaded from satellite

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Geoscience Australia (GA) has produced a 31-year time lapse video of the development of the National Capital, Canberra, using satellite imagery.

The video shows how the ACT and its surrounding regions developed to accommodate a growing population which grew from 250,000 in 1987 to more than 400,000 in 2018.

Acting Branch Head for National Earth and Marine Observations at GA, Trevor Dhu said the time lapse video had been made possible by Digital Earth Australia.

Digital Earth Australia is a platform that uses spatial data and images recorded by satellites orbiting the planet to detect physical changes across Australia.

“Although it only took a couple of hours for one of our Earth Observation Scientists to produce the Canberra time lapse (it) is a simple but compelling example of the possibilities unlocked by Digital Earth Australia,” Dr Dhu said.

“Before Digital Earth Australia, a time lapse like this would have taken days, if not weeks to produce.”

He said that although satellites had been collecting images and other Earth observations of Australia for more than 30 years, until recently, even for scientists, the data had been difficult to access and use.

Dr Dhu said to make the data more accessible, it was transferred to the high performance computing capabilities of the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), home to Australia’s fastest supercomputer.

“By transferring the data to the high performance computing capabilities of the NCI, we were able to organise and prepare satellite data into stacks of consistent, time-stamped observations that can be quickly manipulated and analysed,” he said.

“We’re just starting to comprehend how unprecedented access to more than 30 years of information about the Australian landscape can improve our understanding of environmental change, the sustainable growth of our cities and regions, and improve our way of life.”

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