Google Earth shared several potent images of the world’s rapidly shifting geology back in April for Earth Day. Indeed, we hear on the news the impact of climate change has melted icebergs, created deserts and bleached the world’s coral reefs. However, you can see it in these images.
In beautiful Tanzania, near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, time-lapse photos show how the ice cap has melted dramatically since 1985. Google Earth notes that nearly 85% of the glacier has melted and disappeared in the last century alone.
One of the most alarming images is that of Columbia Glacier in Alaska. Images from 1984 until 2020 show the glacier’s movements and it has retreated 20 kilometers in total to the North due to a number of factors, including rising temperatures.
Meanwhile, Siling Lake in the Himalayas has been expanding, mostly due to glaciers melting. It’s expanded a whopping 40% since the 1970s. You can see the lake’s dramatic expansion in images spanning the period between 1985 and 2020.
Whilst some of the world’s lakes have expanded over the past few decades, others have shrunk to almost nothing. Lake Urmia in Iran was once the second-largest saltwater lake in the Middle East but since the 1970s it has shrunk by 90%. Rising temperatures have contributed to decreasing water levels but illegal wells, dams and water diversion toward crops have also had a dramatic impact.
You can view all of the time-lapses on Google Earth, alongside videos from organisations like NASA showcasing the climate change impact on Earth. Equally, it highlights the subsequent impact this has on everything and everyone who calls Earth home.
Words by Katherine Notman. Updated by Megan Zara Walsh.