SUBJECT :World Environment Day: From surprise snowfall in Sahara Desert to drying up of Lake Aculeo in Central Chile, from soaring temperatures in India to melting ice in Arctic, climate change has not left any part of the Earth unaffected. 

Snowfall in Sahara Desert: Rare snow fall was witnessed at the edge of the Sahara Desert in December 2016. The Landsat 7 satellite captured the image of white over a caramel-colored landscape southwest of the Algerian community Ain Sefra, a town sometimes referred to as the gateway to the desert. (Photo: NASA)

Delhi, June 5, 2019: Large parts of the Earth today are in the grip of heat waves. The climate, generally, is unstable. Temperatures are rising; rainfall patterns are becoming unpredictable; monsoon is unreliable; cyclones are becoming stronger; and sea levels are rising. US President Donald Trump may call climate change a figment of one's imagination, but global warming is for real.

In India, temperatures have soared across North India this summer, with mercury in parts of Rajasthan having already crossed the 50-degree mark. In South and Central India a drought stares at people as water tables deplete rapidly. The monsoon, which generally hits the Kerala cost by June 1, is yet to arrive.

In the past few decades, many of the Himalayan rivers and lakes have dried up. The UN Climate Change says Earth's average temperature has already risen by more than 1 degree Celsius due to climate change over the past century.

On World Environment Day, we present you satellite images that show the extent of damage that climate change has caused.

  • With increasing temperatures, several water bodies across the world are drying up. Below are two satellite images of Lake Aculeo in Central Chile. The lake has completely dried up.

a  Chile's Lake Aculeo Dries in 2014. (Photo: NASA)

In 2014, the lake had some water but in 2019, new satellite images showed that the lake has dried up and now contains only dried mud and green vegetation. Nasa says that scientists attribute the lake's drying up to an "unusual decade-long drought, coupled with increased water consumption from a growing population".

The dried up lake in 2019. (Photo: NASA)

  •   Weather patterns the world over are changing. Satellite images taken by the European Space Agency show that in 2018 many fields and parks across Europe turned brown. This was one of the direst and warmest summers ever recorded.
  •    Among the causalities of rising temperatures are the giant ice sheets in the Arctic. Due to the rise in global temperature, Arctic ice has been observed melting at an unprecedented rate. As a result, cracks have formed even on the thickest of ice shields.

Below is the photo of one such ice sheet that has developed cracks.

Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf prepares to calve iceberg. (Photo: NASA)

It shows the changes in Antarctica's Brunt Ice Shelf over 33 years. Describing the images, Nasa says, "The dark blue line that appears in both images illustrates where the edge of the land lies, beneath the ice. Right of this line, the ice shelf rests on bedrock. Left, it floats in the Weddell Sea. The floating portion has grown considerably as glacial ice has flowed from the land to the sea. In addition, major cracks have developed, two of which are prominent in the 2019 image. When they meet, Brunt will calve an iceberg about twice the area of New York City."

Major cracks have developed in the ice shelf by 2019. (Photo: NASA)

Another measure of the impact of global warning on the Arctic region is decline in ice cover. The image below show the difference in sea-ice coverage between 1984 and 2012.

NASA says that the minimum sea-ice coverage for 2012 set a record low since at least 1979, when the first reliable satellite measurements began.

Arctic sea-ice coverage in 1984. (Photo: NASA)   

The two images compare the 1984 minimum, which was roughly equal to the average minimum extent for 1979-2000, with that of 2012, when the minimum was about half that. "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."

The reduction in Arctic sea-ice coverage by 2012. (Photo: NASA)

Global warming and climate change also exert pressure on limited natural resources-especially water. In urban centres, expansion becomes the only option and as a result we find that size of cities across the world is increasing. Below is a satellite mage take by Nasa that shows the extent of rampant in Las vegas, USA.


Urban area in Las Vegas in 1972. (photo: NASA)

In the United States, Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas. Between 1972 and 2017, the population in this city grew nearly eight times. The 2017 population was estimated to be around 2.2 million.

Urban growth in Las Vegas by 2017. (Photo: NASA)