The Aral Sea is almost completely dried up. (Credit: NASA)

These Time-Lapse GIFs of Earth Are Terrifying, Courtesy of NASA

by Simran Khosla Feb 26, 2015

IN AN EFFORT to show us our impact on the planet, NASA’s Earth Observatory has a series of time-lapsed images from around the world. Each one shows the significant impact of humans have on the environment around them.

The Aral Sea is practically gone.

On the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is the Aral Sea. Once well supplied with water by the region’s two major rivers, the sea lost its river sources in the 1960s when the Soviet Union undertook a massive water diversion project to irrigate its desert.

What was once the fourth largest basin in the world has basically dried up at this point. The black lines on the time-lapse below represent the Aral Sea’s original borders from 1960.


We are STILL cutting down the Amazon at alarming rates.

Rondônia, Brazil was once home to 51.4 million acres of gorgeous, life-giving rainforest. In the last three decades, though, humans have gutted it.

According to NASA: “Clearing and degradation of the state’s forests have been rapid: 4,200 square kilometers cleared by 1978; 30,000 by 1988; and 53,300 by 1998. By 2003, an estimated 67,764 square kilometers of rainforest — an area larger than the state of West Virginia — had been cleared.”


We are moving mountains, and not figuratively.

West Virginia is full of mining companies trying to reach a thin layer of coal under the Appalachian Mountains. To manage this difficult task, they use a process called “mountaintop removal,” which sounds innocent enough and like a rather impressive feat. But really they just use explosive to blow up the mountain tops, which seems like cheating. On top of that it is massacring the region’s biodiversity and making its rivers toxic. Mitigation practices so far haven’t worked. The time-lapse below shows mountaintop removal mine spreading in just one county — Boone County, West Virginia — from 1984 to 2013.


Remember the Ozone layer? That’s still a problem.

Our Ozone layer protects us (and all life on Earth) from harmful sun rays. Before 1979, the recorded concentration of the Ozone layer had not dipped below 220 Dobson Units, which is fine. Since then though, it’s thinned dramatically. In a rare and potentially world-changing and glorious moment, governments came together in 1987 and agreed to phase out harmful “CFC” chemicals, which were causing the Ozone damage. This year scientists said they had evidence that the Ozone might be recovering. Whoohoo! There is still, however, a long way to go. The time-lapse below shows the growth of the hole in the Ozone over Antarctica.


It’s getting really, dangerously hot in here.

The time-lapse below shows global temperatures for each decade, beginning with 1880. One thing is clear, the world is definitely getting warmer. According to NASA, whether the cause is human activity of natural variability — and the preponderance of evidence says it’s humans — thermometer readings all around the world have risen steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.”


By: Simran Khosla, GlobalPost

This article is syndicated from GlobalPost.

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