Satellite views of Dubai, 2000 and 2010. With a population of 1.2 million people, Dubai is one of the few places on Earth where urban sprawl has extended into the ocean. Construction of the Palm Jumeirah, with its 17 sandy fronds (pictured at the left of 2010 image) required 110 million cubic meters of sand, according to the building firm. CNN / NASA Landsat / U.S. Geological Survey

Produced by Mairi Mackay, CNN and George Webster, for CNN, Built by Matt Barringer, CNN

The past century has been defined by an epic migration of people from rural areas to the city. In 2008, for the first time in history, more of the Earth's population was living in cities than in the countryside. The U.N. now predicts that nearly 70% of the global population will be city dwellers by 2050.

Looking back through the decades, these snapshots from space -- created exclusively for CNN by NASA's Landsat department in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey – reveal the impact of this vast population shift on cities around the world. […]

Images from space track relentless spread of humanity

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