April 18, 2021

20 Pictures From NASA That Document How Climate Is Changing the Earth

Our climate is changing around us faster than predicted. From more frequent and extreme storms to unprecedented heatwaves, we’re feeling the impacts of human-caused global warming. The icebergs are melting, various locations are experiencing greater flooding, wildfires are happening more frequently- the list is endless.

Due to those occurrences, a lot of organizations and institutions are keeping an eye on what’s going on in the  world climate wise. NASA plays the biggest role, since for years t has been watching over thousands of locations around the globe using its space technology, looking for signs of global climate change.

To document the change happening on earth, NASA launched the  Images Of Change website where it shows the before and after images on earth, emphasizing the chages that area happening due to climate change.

Below are some of the most prominent changes recorded over the years and decades.

#1 Arctic Sea-Ice Coverage Hits Record Low

NASA

This image shows the differences of the same area of the Arctic Ocean covered in ice in 1984 and 2012. The ice surface increases during the winter and shrink in the summer reaching the lowest point in September. The minimum coverage for 2012 set a record low since at least 1979, when the first reliable satellite measurements began. These images compare the 1984 minimum, which was roughly equal to the average minimum extent for 1979–2000, with that of 2012, when the minimum was about half that.  “At the rate we’re observing this decline,” said NASA scientist Joey Comiso, ‘it’s very likely that the Arctic’s summer sea ice will completely disappear within this century.'”

#2 Shrinking Aral Sea, Central Asia

NASA

The Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world until 1960s, when the Soviet Union diverted water from the rivers that fed the lake so cotton and other crops could be grown in the arid plains of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The Aral Sea and its demise are of great interest and increasing concern to scientists because of the remarkable shrinkage of its area and volume that began in the second half of the 20th century— continued into the 21st. Aral Sea had separated from the Southern Aral Sea, which itself had split into eastern and western lobes. A dam built in 2005 helped the northern sea recover much of its water level at the expense of the southern sea. Dry conditions in 2014 caused the southern sea’s eastern lobe to dry up completely for the first time in modern times. The loss of the moderating influence of such a large body of water has made the region’s winters colder and summers hotter and drier

#3 Muir Glacier Melt, Alaska

NASA

This photography taken in 1941 shows the lower reaches of Muir Glacier and its tributary, Riggs Glacier. The two glaciers filled Muir Inlet. In the 2004 photography we see that Muir Glacier has continued a retreat nearly two centuries long, is located about 4 miles (7 kilometers) to the northwest, out of the field of view. Riggs Glacier has retreated some 0.4 miles (0.6 kilometers). Both glaciers have melted drastically.

#4 Drying Lake Poopo, Bolivia

NASA

Lake Poopó is Bolivia’s second-largest lake and a very important fishing resource for local communities. Unfortunately it has dried up once again because of drought and diversion of water sources for mining and agriculture. The last time it dried was in 1994, after which it took several years for water to return and even longer for ecosystems to recover. In wet times, the lake has spanned an area approaching 1,200 square miles (3,000 square kilometers). Its shallow depth—typically no more than 9 feet (3 meters)—makes it particularly vulnerable to fluctuations.

#5 Drought In Lake Powell, Arizona And Utah

NASA

A dramatic drop in Lake Powell’s water has been caused by the prolonged drought and water withdrawals. These images show the comparison on northern and southern part of the lake. The northern part of the lake, which is actually a deep, narrow, meandering reservoir that extends from Arizona upstream into southern Utah. The 1999 image shows water levels near full capacity. By May 2014, the lake had dropped to 42 percent of capacity

#6 Rare Snow Falls At The Edge Of The Sahara Desert

NASA

Something rare happened in Africa’s Sahara Desert in December 2016. The northwest are was covered in snow.  All of the snow disappeared except at the highest elevations, as shown in the right image captured by Landsat 8. Ain Sefra’s last snowfall occurred in February 1979.

#7 Ice Avalanche in Tibet’s Aru Range 

NASA

An unfortunate event of a glacier tongue collapse on July, 17, 2016 resulted with the death of nine people with their herds of 350 sheep and 110 yaks. The ice avalanche, one of the largest ever recorded, left debris as much as 98 feet (30 meters) thick across 4 square miles (10 square kilometers). The reason for the collapse has so far eluded glaciologists.

#8 Iceland’s Ok Glacier Melts Away


NASA

These images show the latest stages of the melting Ok glacier close to the volcano in west-central Iceland.

In 1978, aerial photography showed the glacier had shrunk to about 1 square mile (3 square kilometers). Today, less than half a square mile (less than 1 square kilometer) remains.

#9 Bering sea ice at record low


NASA

Each year less ice is detected in the Bering Sea, since the start of the written records in 1850.
Normally, ice covers more than 193,000 square miles (500,000 square kilometers) of the sea in late April, roughly twice the size of Texas. The ice extent at that time in 2018 was only about 10 percent of normal. Changes in when and where the sea ice melts can affect phytoplankton blooms which, in turn, can affect the entire Bering ecosystem.

#10 Shrinking glaciers in New Zealand 


NASA

New Zealand contains over 3,000 glaciers, most of which are on the South Island’s Southern Alps. The glaciers have been disappearing since 1890, with short periods of small advances. This change was attributed primarily to global warming. Without substantial climate cooling, the glaciers would not return to their previous sizes. The differences between 1990 and 2017 can be seen in this pair of images, which include the Mueller Glacier, Hooker Glacier and Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest.

#11 Beach erosion near Freeport, Texas


NASA

These image show an area just south of Freeport, Texas, where beach is being lost at a rate of nearly 49 feet (15 meters) per year along an 11-mile (17-kilometer) stretch. It is one of the largest erosive hotspots in the world.

During researches it was shown that 24 percent of the beaches eroded more than 20 inches (0.5 meter) per year, including more than a third of those classified as protected. Some 28 percent of sandy beaches grew and 48 percent remained stable.

#12 As glaciers recede worldwide, one defies trend


NASA

Glaciers around the world are losing mass and receding such as those in Chile’s Southern Patagonia Icefield

However, one of SPI’s glaciers, the Brüggen Glacier (also known as the Pio XI Glacier), is advancing for no clear reason. Between 1998 and 2014, the glacier’s southern front advanced 593 meters (about 1,945 feet), and its northern front, which flows into Lake Greve, advanced 107 meters (about 351 feet). Scientists theorize that activity inside or beneath the glacier could be making it advance, along with factors like flow speed and the lake’s depth. Whatever the cause, the SPI glaciers continue to be closely monitored from space.

#13 Tanami desert fires , Australia

NASA

The extreme dry weather has let to major fires across north and central Australia during the past year.
In February, fires along the coast caused extensive damage and loss of life. More recently, dry conditions fed many fires in Australia’s least populated area, the Tanami Desert region, which is about the size of Texas and Iowa combined. Vegetation on its sand ridges and plains is limited largely to short grasses and shrubs. The September 7 satellite image shows the dark area from previous fires. The September 23 image shows further scarring from active fires.< #14 James river floods in South Dakota


NASA

These images show a portion of the James River in eastern South Dakota. The 2015 image depicts the river in a typical spring, while in the 2020 image, it is overflowing its banks. This and other sections of the river had been at flood level since spring 2019.  In these false-color images, ice appears light blue and water is dark blue. The blue area merging with the James from below is Putney Slough, which also flooded.

#15 Record pools of meltwater on George Vi Ice Shelf, Antartctica

NASA

Water has started to melt even in frigid Antarctica. The blue areas in the 2020 image represent the most widespread meltwater pooling — spanning some 90 miles (140 kilometers) — ever recorded on the George VI Ice Shelf. His massive slab of glacier ice protrudes from the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula and floats on the waters separating the peninsula from Alexander Island. Pools like these can destabilize ice shelves, but George VI is thought to be robust enough to withstand them

#16 Derecho flatters Iowa crops 


NASA

A powerful windstorm, known as a derecho, tore across Iowa, northern Illinois, and northern Indiana on Aug. 10, 2020, with hurricane-force winds of 75 mph (120 kph) or more. These images show fields of corn and soybeans in that state, before and after the storm. The lighter greens of the August image indicate crops that the winds damaged.

#17 Hawaiian island disappears 

NASA

Until Hurricane Walaka that struck in October 2018, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands included East Island, shown in the September image. But the storm washed away most of the 11 acres of sand and gravel that constituted the island, leaving only two slivers of land, visible in the October image. East Island was part of the French Frigate Shoals, an atoll in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

#18  Columbia Glacier Melt, Alaska

NASA

Alaska’s Columbia Glacier descends through the Chugach Mountains into Prince William Sound. When British explorers surveyed the glacier in 1794, its nose extended to the northern edge of Heather Island, near the mouth of Columbia Bay. The glacier held that position until 1980, when it began a rapid retreat. The glacier has thinned so much that the up and down motion of the tides affects its flow as much as 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) upstream, until the glacier bed rises above sea level and the ice loses contact with the ocean.

#19 Heavy Rains Flood Peru 


NASA

Heavy rains that began in mid-March 2017 have devastated much of Peru. According to reports, more than 70,000 people lost their homes and more than 60 people died in floods and mudslides. Both the Lago La Niña and Piura River have overflowed their banks. Official data report that about 4,660 miles (7,500 km) of roads and 509 bridges have been damaged. In these false-color images, clouds and salt pans (depressions in the ground in which salt water evaporates, leaving salt behind) appear light blue.

#20 Kasakawulsh Glacier Meltwater Alters Downstream Ecosystems 


NASA

Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Kluane National Park and Reserve of southwestern Yukon Territory, Canada, has receded over the past several decades. This receding glacier caused a rare instance of river piracy—the diversion of one stream’s headwaters into another. Instead of flowing north via the Slims River into Kluane Lake, eventually reaching the Yukon River and Bering Sea as it did before spring 2016, most of the meltwater now flows eastward to the Alsek River and Pacific Ocean via the Kaskawulsh River. This diversion brought sediment changes, varied timing of flows from the glacier and water level changes to the channels, possibly permanently altering downstream ecosystems.”