NASA has been taking images of how we are altering the Earth for decades: this is the result

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Over the past six decades, the planet has seen more than 9.6 trillion tons of glacial ice melt. The value, calculated by the University of Zurich, is related to the progress of climate change and stands out for two reasons. First, for its roundness; second, because, precisely for that very reason, its figures are difficult for us to digest. How to visualize almost 10,000 gigatons of ice? How much is that equal to? Go from data to idea is not easy.

Aware that a picture is worth a thousand words —or a thousand facts, for that matter—, The NASA offers a tool that helps to visualize how our planet is transforming. Images of Change It takes advantage of the photographs that the US space agency has been taking for decades from space. The best thing about the resource is not that it shows how the world is now, but that it allows you to appreciate its drift, see how certain points have changed over time.

The material allows us to appreciate the deterioration of glaciers, but also the effect of droughts or torrential rains. The photographs show other phenomena that change the physiognomy of the planet without being related to global warming, such as volcano eruptions or, without going any further, renovation of lighting from a big city or a transformation in land use.

A “before and after” in every rule. Except that thought to remove consciences.

Ice loss on the Antarctic Peninsula

Antarctic Peninsula

What you see in the photos is the evolution of Larsen B Cove, on the Antarctic Peninsula. Between the two —the most recent, as in the entire list, is the one on the right— the detachment of a large area of ​​ice that had been attached to the coast can be seen. The sea ice slowed the flow of the glacier towards the sea. once dispersed, NASA notes which is likely to speed up.

The melting of the Helheim glacier

Helheim Glacier

The images captured by NASA show a fjord in which Helheim Glacier, in Greenland, crumbles into icebergs. The agency explains that the output of the glacier remained stable for decades, between the 1970s and 2001, when it was found that it was beginning to recede towards its origin. Its experts appreciate an “acceleration” in the flow of the glacier itself towards the sea.

Accelerating changes in the Vavilov Ice Sheet

Vavilov Ice Cap Glacier

The sequence shows the changes in a glacier located on the edge of the Vavilov ice sheet, in the Russian Arctic. Scientists found that their slide towards the sea was accelerating in 2010 and 2014. “The surprising change requires rethinking whether other similar glaciers may be less stable than previously assumed,” notes NASAwhich notes that faster loss of ice to the ocean can have the same effect on sea level rise.

35 years redrawing the Grand Plateau


Between both images there are three and a half decades of difference. The first was taken in 1984 with the Landsat 5 satellite; the second is from 2019 and was captured by Landsat 8. The sequence shows the evolution of the grand plateau glacierin Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park: its arms became shorter and the material – known as “glacial flour”— deposited in the lower lake has varied its color.

A glacier in southern Patagonia in retreat

South Patagonia

Most of the glaciers Southern Patagonian Ice Fieldwhich extends between Chile and Argentina, have been deteriorating over time. In NASA images HPS-12 can be seen, which in a matter of several decades has lost a considerable size: from a length of 26 km in 1985 it went to 13 in 2017. During the process it has broken off three other glaciers.

The footprint of the heat wave in Europe


The effects are not only visible on glaciers. this sequence allows you to see how quickly the “footprint” of a persistent heat wave can be seen. The first photo, with a greenish hue, is from 2017. The second, with a more brown coloration, is from 2018, after a period that, according to the European Space Agency (ESA), left record temperatures in much of this part of the world.

The impact of mining activity

Mining Impact

Mangystau, in Kazakhstan, near the Caspian Sea, leaves another example of the influence of man. In the 1990s, oil and gas deposits began to be exploited in the region, which has changed the landscape. Production facilities and settlements can be seen in the 2011 photo. NASA points that their activity has generated concern about the quality and availability of fresh water.

The footprint of light pollution


Not all changes come from rising temperatures, droughts or deforestation. The great works, the use of the land or something as simple as the change of lighting leave a mark that can be seen from the space. The photos, taken from the ISS, show Milan after the change of lighting and the use of LED lights. The first is from 2012, the second from 2015. Being brighter and bluish, notes NASAthe new lighting limits the ability to see the stars.

Impact of the Samuel Dam and deforestation


The hand of man also directly changes the landscape. The first photo shows part of jamari riverin Rondônia, Brazil, in the 1980s, shortly after the construction of a dam hydroelectric. in the secondfrom 2011, can already be seen how the reservoir created by the dam flooded the forest upriver and the effects of the deforestation that plagues part of that region.

The shadow of forest fires

Forest fire

Fires also leave a shadow of ashes. The images They show an area near Ashland, Kansas, burned during a wave of fires that covered around 315,600 hectares between that state and Oklahoma. in 2020 the police opened an investigation to unravel the causes of an Almeda arson that started in Ashland and left homes razed in its wake.

Images | POT

Over the past six decades, the planet has seen more than 9.6 trillion tons of glacial ice melt. The value,…

Over the past six decades, the planet has seen more than 9.6 trillion tons of glacial ice melt. The value,…

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