In Brief
  • NASA has created a collection of before and after photos to showcase how humans are having a significant impact on the environment.
  • The photos include the result of glacial melting, landslides, wildfires, and more phenomena reshaping the planet.

NASA has collected a series of before and after photos of regions from across the globe. The series is entitled “Images of Change” and showcases the ways in which human activity contributes to rapid shifts in geography and environment. The photos cover everything from issues caused by warming such as glacial melting and wildfires, to other human-driven phenomena like invasive species and urban expansion.

Here are a few photos of the most dramatic changes.

NASA/JPL-Caltech.Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

The glaciers pictured above are located in New Zealand and have been retreating and expanding since 1890. However, as climate change has progressed, the expansion has been replaced with more melting, ensuring that they will not return to their original size.

Source: NASA Earth ObservatorySource: NASA Earth Observatory

The melting of ice in Antartica is a major contributor to global rises in sea-levels. Pictured above, we can clearly see one to two kilometers (one mile) of ice breaking off of the Pine Island Glacier. And, at the current rate that sea levels are rising, flooding could increase by 25-fold.

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior / USGS and NASASource: U.S. Department of the Interior / USGS and NASA

Lastly, we see the before and after of a devastating landslide that took place last year in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. A 1.2 kilometer (4,000 foot) high mountain collapsed, dumping rocks along a path that encompassed nearly ten kilometers (six miles).

Climate change isn’t some far-off future nightmare that we can use to scare children into not keeping the refrigerator door open. It is real and it is happening right now. We are beginning to see the effects of a warming planet in a myriad of different ways, and it’s more than just temperature.