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

They’re pretty graphic images of climate destruction

Glacier retreat in Greenland.
Glacier retreat in Greenland.
Image: Google

This Earth Day, Google is dedicating its Doodle to how badly we’re messing up our beloved planet. It’s actually kind of a cool Doodle. Four different GIFs show time lapses of dramatic changes driven by climate change.

From Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, you’ll see footage of bright corals losing their color under the stress of warmer waters. Corals are living creatures that get their color from algae in their tissues with which they have a symbiotic relationship. Under stress, including rising ocean temperatures, corals lose that 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 struck the Great Barrier Reef this year, according to the marine park’s authority in March. It’s one of the consequences of the world warming by more than 1 degree Celsius. One more degree of warming could wipe out 99 percent of the world’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 nonprofit The Ocean Agency.

Glacier retreat at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro from December 1986 to December 2020.
Glacier retreat at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro from December 1986 to December 2020.
GIF: Google

Two other GIFs show glaciers vanishing from Sermersooq, Greenland, and from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania over several decades. Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano, and is one of only three peaks in Africa topped with glaciers. If those glaciers continue to retreat at the rate they’re melting now, they could completely disappear within just a couple of decades.

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

Google’s last 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 devastating drought that weakened trees, leaving them more susceptible to attack from bark beetles.

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 advocacy groups over climate-denying ads that slipped past its policy banning such misinformation. Clicking on today’s Doodle will lead you to information Google has curated on the ongoing climate crisis.