EarthTime enables users to interact with visualizations of the Earth's transformation over time. Combining huge data sets with images captured by NASA satellites between 1984 and 2016, EarthTime brings to life patterns of natural change and human impact.

Experts and journalists from all over the world use EarthTime to create interactive, data-driven stories.


EarthTime is completely open-source. Dive into the datasets to reveal connections and patterns of change.



Users of EarthTime can view compelling animations accompanied by fact-based narratives from international experts. Drawing upon EarthTime's vast data library, the stories below are curated in honor of different global events and themes. Explore these stories to learn more about our collective impact on the planet.

Crisis in the Sahel 2019

Sahel in Peril: The Big Picture

By: Robert Muggah, Igarape Institute & ICRC

Climate stress and food insecurity are contributing to rising tensions in the Sahel. Armed groups and spreading organized violence are deepening a humanitarian and development crisis.

Spreading Violence in the Sahel

By: Robert Muggah, Igarape Institute & ICRC

The Sahel is affected by overlapping and spreading conflicts. Climate change, food insecurity and extremist violence are exacerbating a humanitarian crisis.

Solutions in the Sahel

By: Robert Muggah, Igarape Institute & ICRC

Although the Sahel faces some of the world's toughest conditions, its people are survivors. There are many hopeful signs of adaptation and innovation.

World Refugee Day 2018

Global Refugee Crisis:
The Big Picture


The UNHCR gives an overview of the international refugee crisis in chronological order, exploring trends in forced migration and conflict.

Global Refugee Crisis:
A System Overburdened

By: Dr. Khalid Koser, GCERF

Current international refugee infrastructure cannot accomodate the record high number of people in the modern refugee crisis. Explore the causes and possible solutions.

Earth Day 2018


By: Frances Seymour, WRI

Deforestation occurs when forestland has been converted to non-forest use, and it often appears on satellite footage. Explore deforestation with trade data and how government protected areas can help in conservation efforts.


By: Sara Longo & Ryan Hoffman, CREATE Lab

Glacier retreat occurs when ice melts more quickly than snowfall can accumulate and form new glacial ice. Observe different areas of glacial retreat and accelerated ice melting across Earth from satellite images.


By: Ryan Hoffman, CREATE Lab

Explore the rise of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar photovoltaic (PV). Many renewable energy installations have occurred in the last 10 years, resulting in energy security and climate change mitigation.

Fires at Night

By: John Amos, SkyTruth

This story features a global map of active fires that are visible from space at night. Fire sources include agricultural burning, flaring around oil fields, and forest fires.

Urban Fragility

By: Robert Muggah, Igarape Institute

Cities play an extremely important role in human prosperity. This story presents threats to cities, such as poverty, inequality and fragility, and challenges each city to develop a long-term plan.

City Growth

By: Ryan Hoffman, CREATE Lab

City growth can be studied with land imagery and lights visible from space at night. Compare how cities across the world accommodate for rapid urbanization by growing both outward and upward.

Surface Water

By: Alan Belward, JRC

Changes to Earth’s rivers, lakes, and other surface water can come from many sources, including agriculture diversion or sediment transport. This story features different areas of surface water change.

Coral Bleaching

By: Naomi Oreskes, Harvard University

Bleaching events occur when corals lose their main source of food, the algae that lives inside their tissues. Explore areas where rising ocean temperatures have caused stressed coral and algae abandoning coral tissue.

Sea Level Rise

By: Climate Central

This story shows the projected impact of sea level rise as a result of a 0-4℃ increase in average global temperatures. Explore coastal areas under threat as a result of higher global temperatures.


From schools to global events, EarthTime is regularly used to share data-driven stories with the public. It has been featured at the World Economic Forum's global meetings since 2015 in sessions lead by respected policy-makers, NGOs, and business leaders. It has also been used in TED talks and museum installations, by international organizations and innovative educators. EarthTime's flexibility and evolving data library provide unrivaled access to relevant and verified data for all users.


Who We Are

The Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab (CREATE Lab) explores socially meaningful innovation and deployment of robotic technologies.

We aim to empower a technologically fluent generation by fostering experiential learning opportunities. From environmental sensing to data visualization, our work encourages authentic learning opportunities, evidence-based public discourse, and collective action.

EarthTime was launched in partnership with the World Economic Forum. The Forum draws on its expert network to provide data, author EarthTime stories, and present in its meetings.

Misson and Values

EarthTime is underpinned by CREATE Lab's vision to promote data literacy, inspire meaningful dialogue, and democratize access to data for everyone in an inclusive and transparent way.

By showing the results of our past decisions with visual evidence through time, we create the scaffolding that supports positive future decision-making. We can empower our decision makers in public and private spheres to make more informed, forward-facing choices.

Together, we can move from "Is this happening?" to "What do we do about it"?

Democratizing Data

The What & Why

What: The CREATE Lab has technology that provides interactive and visual representations of large data sets which reveal patterns that encourage discovery and facilitate communication.

Why: Data is important. We aim to create data visualizations based on the needs of everyone, including global leaders, educators, and community members.

We wish to personally thank the following sponsors of EarthTime:

  • JP Morgan Chase
  • S&P Global
  • Heinz Endowments


Our data comes from respected sources around the world that are dedicated to collecting, researching, and publishing information about human and Earth change over time. Our partners range from government agencies like NASA and the US Census, to non-governmental agencies like the Igarape Institute and the United Nations, and to university research programs at Oxford, Harvard, University of Maryland. In each case, we have forged relationships with data providers that give us the right to freely share their data with you through EarthTime visualizations. Our data sources vary dramatically, and share one common thread: a desire to understand our one home.

Our data comes from many sources and might therefore have its own unique timespan. In some cases, such as certain trade flows and financial numbers, our data precedes 1900. In other cases, such as Landsat satellite imagery, our data starts with Landsat 5's launch in 1984, up until the present. We try our best to ensure that the most recent data will be added to our visualizations as soon as possible.

We pre-process massive data sets using new big-data techniques to create animated visualizations of high-resolution information at different time scales. Relying on many of the same strategies used by video game designers, EarthTime uses GPU's in your computer to create a new capability for interactively exploring extreme-sized data.


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