What you’re seeing in Google’s Earth Day Doodle

Glacial retreat in Greenland.

Glacial retreat in Greenland.
Image: Google

On this Earth Day, Google is dedicating its Doodle to the seriousness of the deterioration of our beloved planet. It’s actually kind of a cool Doodle. Four different GIFs show time intervals of dramatic changes caused by climate change.

From Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, you’ll see images of brilliant corals losing their color under the stress of warmer waters. Corals are living creatures that get their color from the algae present in their tissues with which they have a symbiotic relationship. Under stress, including rising ocean temperatures, corals shed these algae in a depressing phenomenon called “bleaching.”

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching on Lizard Island, Australia.  The images were taken each month from March to May 2016.

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching on Lizard Island, Australia. The images were taken each month from March to May 2016.
GIF: Google / The Ocean Agency

A sixth mass bleaching event has hit the Great Barrier Reef this year, marine park authorities said in March. This is one of the consequences of global warming of more than 1 degree Celsius. Further warming could wipe out 99% of the planet’s reefs. The time-lapse on Google’s doodle shows bleaching in 2016, when there was another mass bleaching event. The images come from the association The Ocean Agency.

Glacier retreat atop Mount Kilimanjaro from December 1986 to December 2020.

Glacier retreat atop Mount Kilimanjaro from December 1986 to December 2020.
GIF: Google

Two other GIFs show the disappearance of glaciers from Sermersooq, Greenland, and the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, over several decades. Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano and one of only three glacier-topped peaks in Africa. If these glaciers continue to retreat at the rate they are currently melting, they could disappear completely within just a few decades.

Glacial retreat in Sermersooq, Greenland from December 2000 to December 2020.

Glacial retreat in Sermersooq, Greenland from December 2000 to December 2020.
Image: Google

Google’s latest GIF depicts forest destruction in Elend, Germany. Here, gray carcasses of dead trees have earned parts of Harz National Park the name Harzer Silberwald, or Harz Silver Forest, according to locals. The carnage is the result of a devastating drought that has weakened the trees, making them more vulnerable to bark beetle attack.

Forests destroyed in Germany December 1995 to December 2020

Harz forests destroyed in Elend, Germany from December 1995 to December 2020.
Image: Google

In the past, Google has come under scrutiny from climate-denying ad advocacy groups that have overstepped its policy prohibiting such misinformation. Clicking on today’s Doodle will take you to information that Google has curated about the ongoing climate crisis.

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