Climate change rarely transforms an environment overnight. By the time ice shelves disappear, ocean waves creep onto main streets, and forests shrivel, the forces of climate change have been at work for decades. 

Fortunately, NASA is tracking these environmental changes with satellites so that the public knows the full scale of transformations taking place. From one month to the next, an environmental change might seem slight, but when you zoom out to the level of years and decades, the combined shifts paint a devastating portrait. Of course, there are also sudden, dramatic events like flash floods that overwhelm a region overnight. But these, too, are the result of weather patterns that have morphed over decades.   

Here are seven transformations that NASA has captured. 

Melting Arctic Ice

September, 1984

Image: NASA

Read More: Arctic Continues to Break Records — For All the Wrong Reasons

September, 2016

Image: NASA

Fire Damage in Yellowstone National Park

October 10, 1987

Image: NASA

June 17, 2016

Image: NASA

Early Ice Melt in Greenland

June 10, 2014

Image: NASA

Read More: 'Before the Flood': 9 Things We Learned From Leonardo DiCaprio's Climate Change Film

June 15, 2016

Image: NASA

Sea-Ice Breakup in Beaufort Sea, Arctic

April 13, 2015

Image: NASA

April 15, 2016

Image: NASA

Coal Mine Growth in Powder River Basin, Wyoming

June 29, 1984

June 21, 2016

Image: NASA

Flooding in Yangtze River Basin, China

March 27, 2016

July 28, 2016

Image: NASA

Flooding on the Ganges River, India

August 10, 2015

Read More: These Are the Dirtiest and Cleanest Rivers in the World

August 15, 2016

Image: NASA


Defend the Planet

NASA Satellite Images Show the Stunning Toll of Climate Change

By Joe McCarthy