This includes shrinking glaciers in New Zealand, snow in the Sahara Desert, melting ice in Canada, and travel reduction in Wuhan, China, due to coronavirus restrictions. Made up of more than 500 images, including before and after shots taken weeks to decades apart, the collection shows the reality of climate change on earth.

NASA has released a series of shocking satellite images that appear to reveal the devastating impact of climate change and how it is transforming our planet.

Dubbed ‘Images of Change’, the series of photographs taken from space show changes from a combination of climate change, urbanisation, flooding, and fires.

This includes shrinking glaciers in New Zealand, snow in the Sahara Desert, melting ice in Canada, and travel reduction in Wuhan, China, due to coronavirus restrictions. Made up of more than 500 images, including before and after shots taken weeks to decades apart, the collection shows the reality of climate change on earth.

One set of photos appear to show Iceland’s Ok glacier completely melted away, wildfires scorching Argentina, and monsoon flooding in Pakistan. Half of the images are taken before an event happened – in some cases, up to four decades ago – and half show the same location after a major incident. Images of the Arctic sea ice captured in 1984 and 2020 show the noticeable change in the extent of the frozen region – showing just how much has melted in 36 years.

National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) researchers say 2020 saw the second-lowest Arctic sea ice extent in the 42-year history of satellite records. “The ice is shrinking in the summer, but it’s also getting thinner. You’re losing extent, and you’re losing the thick ice as well. It’s a double whammy,” said Director of the NSIDC Mark Serreze, when figures were released in September 2020.

The record low for Arctic sea ice was in 2012 – the lowest since satellite records began in 1979 – the 2013 minimum was larger, but continued the long-term downward trend of about 12 per cent sea-ice loss per decade since the late 1970s. “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.”

While ice was shrinking in the Arctic, NASA recorded images of rare snowfall at the edge of the Sahara Desert in December 2016. NASA also captured images of human events – showing a dramatic reduction in traffic levels in Wuhan early in 2020 – at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The images have been shared as an interactive gallery on the NASA website, where you can compare them side-by-side or by sliding across. There are pictures from locations across the globe, at various points in time and split into different categories covering ice, human impact, water and cities.

“Some of these effects are related to climate change, some are not,” according to NASA, adding some show the impact of humanity itself on the planet we call home. Some document the effects of urbanisation, or the ravage of natural hazards such as fires and floods. All show our planet in a state of flux. The full NASA Images of Change interactive gallery is on the NASA website.

– Agencies