NASA releases before-and-after pictures showing devastating effects of climate change

George Martin
·3-min read
Flooding on the James River in eastern South Dakota last year. (NASA)
Flooding on the James River in eastern South Dakota last year. (NASA)

NASA has released a series of satellite images which show the visual impact of climate change as seen from space.

The series of 500 photos, entitled Images of Change, shows how urbanisation, flooding and fires have changed natural landscapes around the world.

Some of the shocking before-and-after shots are taken just weeks apart and show how quickly climate change is taking hold in some regions.

Watch: Climate crisis and how it can be stopped

One of the most shocking transitions can be seen in the Arctic where a vast amount of sea ice appears to have melted away between 1984 and 2020.

“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.”

Other photos show shrinking glaciers in New Zealand, snow in the Sahara Desert and the effect of travel restrictions in Wuhan, China because of coronavirus.

The above images show a portion of the Sindh province in south-eastern Pakistan before and after flooding from monsoon rains in 2020.

During the floods, Karachi, the country's most populous city set a single-day record when nine inches of rain fell in a 12-hour period.

As many as 136 people died in flood-related incidents in the province and a total of 77,343 houses were, with 137,178 homes damaged.

Mount St Helens in Skamania County, Washington, erupted violently in 1980, destroying hundreds of square miles of forest.

A satellite image taken four years later in 1984 shows how the landscape was left largely barren by the eruption.

But four decades after the blast, the region has enjoyed a great deal of recovery as seen in the 2020 image, with green areas starting to return.

Another striking set of images shows meltwater pooling on top of a glacier on the George VI Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

Depressions in the surface of the enormous glacier during the summer months result in water gathering on the surface

The 2020 image shows the meltwater pools spanning a record 90-mile area. They can destabilize ice shelves.

Pictures taken in 2015 show the James River in eastern South Dakota during a typical spring compared with the flooding throughout 2019 and 2020.

Heavy rain and snowmelt from a Plains bomb cyclone sent the river above flood stage in April 2019.

It took 17 months for the river to drop below flood stage near Columbia in the northeastern part of the state.

These images show the results of 19 years of deforestation in Argentina's portion of the Gran Chaco, South America's largest dry forest.

The neighbouring Amazon rainforest is bigger and more biodiverse, but the Gran Chaco provides a habitat for thousands of plant species and hundreds of animal species, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

In the 2019 image, much of the forest has been replaced by fields for soybeans and cattle.

Watch: One year on from Australia's massive bushfires, have lessons been learned?