20 years of changing seasons on Earth packed into 2½ minutes

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The awesome impact of climate change on Earth over the past two decades has now been shown thanks to a fascinating new map shared by Nasa.

The polar ice caps and snow cover are shown ebbing and flowing with the seasons.

NASA released Friday time-lapse video of life on our entire planet over the last two decades, including a close-up view of our region.

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"These are incredibly evocative visualisations of our living planet", said Gene Carl Feldman, from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in the US. 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.

The visualisation also captures the state of the oceans and life within it.

NASA said its scientists have the most complete global picture of life on Earth from the vantage point of space. "It's really remarkable", said NASA oceanographer Jeremy Werdell, who took part in the project. He says the visualization shows spring coming earlier and autumn lasting longer in the Northern Hemisphere.

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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. He also pointed out the Arctic - and the Antarctic - ice caps receding over time.

On the sea side, Werdell was struck by "this hugely productive bloom of biology" that exploded in the Pacific along the equator from 1997 to 1998 - when a water-warming El Nino merged into cooling La Nina. This algae bloom is evident by a line of bright green.

Using an improved model of how energy would flow throughout the planet and radiate back into space, the researchers found that the night side of the planet is not as cool as previously thought.

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Werdell said that the data could prove extremely useful for lawmakers as well as commercial fishermen and other professions.

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