These highly detailed satellite images show climate change over a decade

Satellite images compiled by Earther’s Gizmodo confirm the extent of climate change over the last decade, and the massive effort required by humanity in the years to come. In fact, climatic conditions that we have taken for granted historically are beginning to evaporate.

Immediate impact

While the immediate impact of climate change may be increasingly obvious to those living on the planet, satellite imagery provides us with an insight into the issue that is impossible from Earth. Orbiting around 500 miles above the surface of the globe, NASA and the European Space Agency satellites deliver data that fully illustrate the climate crisis.

Perhaps the most alarming aspect of the images is the extent of ice melting. We already know thanks to important research published earlier this year that the Arctic is currently operating at its warmest temperature in over 115,000 years. Naturally, this has a huge knock-on effect on the amount of glacial ice, and it’s now clear that the glaciers are disappearing rapidly.

Climate change satellite
Satellite images showing the recession of the Barnes Ice Cap between 2010 and 2019. Photo: NASA Worldview.

The warming of the planet that has taken place over the last decade alone has been responsible for a rapid recession in the quantity of Arctic ice. Imagery from NASA’s Terra satellite indicates that the ice cap has both retreated and become darker in color. This darkening may seem relatively insignificant, but is actually of crucial importance, as the darkening of the cap indicates that its demise may be accelerating.

Australian wildfires

With wildfires currently taking place in Australia, the issue of forest fires has been in sharp focus. And California has become absolutely synonymous with wildfires over the last decade in particular, with five of the largest fires in state history having occurred in the past ten years, while six of the most destructive have occurred in the last three years alone.

Climate change satellite
The Aral Sea is 2010, while its eastern lobe has dried up in the second July 2019 satellite image. Photo: NASA Worldview.

Dealing with the shifting climatic conditions which are causing this unseemly issue is far from easy, and it is now clear that a sustained long-term strategy is required.

Another issue that has become clear from satellite imagery is problems at sea. The last ten years have been far from favorable for the world’s oceans, with the Aral Sea in particular suffering from a recession in water levels. While this disappearing phenomenon cannot be attributed to the last ten years alone, its acceleration and continuing decline are shocking and worrying.

As seas recede into desert, so the climate of the associated regions become harsher, to say nothing of the impact on the water table.

Climate change satellite
The Larsen C ice shelf in 2012, when it was merely a blank slate, and ‘Iceberg A68’ as breaking away from the shelf in 2017. Photo: NASA Worldview.

Turning the tide

While the situation is unquestionably serious, the tide is beginning to turn in terms of decisive action being taken. The general public has become more receptive to the dramatic way in which the climate is changing, and the extensive environmental damage that the human race has already done to the delicate ecological balance of the planet.

With coal-burning becoming less prominent, renewables on the march, and activists regularly highlighting the importance of the climate struggle, the situation may seem bleak, but there is hope on the horizon.

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