Flood. Drought. Heat waves. Ice melt. The impact of a warming world is being manifested in a variety of ways, and we can see it from space. Browse through our gallery of pictures taken by NASA satellites looking down at planet Earth.
Less than a year after a devastating 2003 heat wave killed over 37,000 people across Europe, another heat wave struck the region. On July 1, 2004, this image from NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) recorded land surface temperatures of 138°F (59°C) in Spain. In this false-color image, red represents the warmest temperatures, yellow is intermediate, and light and dark blue are progressively cooler. Air temperatures in both countries soared over 104°F (40°C). Three days after this image was taken, Spain set a new air temperature record for the nation: 117°F (47°C). Climate models predict more extreme weather events, including heat waves, in the coming decades due to man-made climate change.
Found at the intersection of four different countries in West Africa, Lake Chad was once one of the African continent's largest bodies of fresh water, close in surface area to North America's Lake Erie. But today it is a ghost of its former self, reduced to only about 1/20th its former size in just four decades, thanks to prolonged drought and human demand for water.
A warming world also makes heavily populated coastal areas more vulnerable to flooding: higher global temperatures produce warmer seawater, which expands and causes a rise in sea level. Approximately 400 million people live within 20 meters (0.01 miles) of sea level and 20 km (12 miles) of a coast; modest increases in sea level could displace millions of people.
Wildfire activity in the western U.S. has increased markedly since the mid-1980s, with more frequent large fires and longer fire seasons. Climate models predict increased wildfire risk across many areas of the globe in coming decades.