NASA has released new satellite imagery, depicting the impacts of global warming, extreme weather events and urbanisation on different parts of the world.
It shows the decline of Okjökull, a melting glacier in Iceland that has shrunk from 15 square miles in 1901 to less than half a square mile today.
Hudson Bay, a sea in the Arctic Ocean surrounded by land, has lost about a third of its polar bear population since the 1980s, due to declining summer sea ice. NASA’s images show the huge loss of ice in just 16 days across a monitored period in July 2020. The number of polar bears has fallen from around 1200 to 800, with declining summer sea ice providing less opportunity for them to feed.
Cancún, in Mexico, has grown from a town of around 100 people in 1970 to a tourist hotspot with two million visitors annually – but at the cost of water pollution and beach erosion. The town’s growth is shown in the difference between the first image from 1985 and the second in 2019, as well as the pollution of the water.
The huge impact of drought on Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, is also demonstrated, with it only having 27% of its capacity in 2022, the lowest since it was filled in 1937.
Peyto Glacier in Canada has lost 70% of its mass over the past 50 years, with images showcasing its ice loss and that of surrounding glaciers.
The final images shared are of Great Salt Lake in the Western US, which has hit a record low due to drought and increased water usage – dropping below 4,190 feet in August 2022, compared to a high of 4,210 feet in 1985.