Everyone loves before-and-after glacier pics. But do you know what comes after the after?

Watching a mighty glacier recede before your eyes can be stunning.

The Mendenhall Glacier receded about 1,800 feet between 2007 and 2015. Images from James Balog via AP.

To see something so huge rendered so ephemeral in just a simple pair of images.

Switzerland's Stein Glacier lost about 1,800 feet between 2006 and 2015.


These before-and-after shots serve as powerful reminders of climate change.

The Trift Glacier in Switzerland lost nearly three-quarters of a mile between 2006 and 2015. Images from James Balog via AP and Matt Kennedy via AP.

Warmer weather has been shrinking glaciers around the world, from the Himalayas to the American West. These latest images are part of a set released by the Geological Society of America.

But they don't show the whole story.

What happens after the "after" photo?

When glaciers melt, that water runs into streams and rivers. But here's the thing: It matters when the water moves into streams and rivers.

Glaciers work like icy time machines. In many areas, glaciers and mountaintop snowpack trap winter precipitation that would have otherwise ended up flowing downstream, eventually to the ocean. They then release it during the warmer, drier summer, helping even out river levels year-round.

But as glaciers shrink, that time machine winds down. Rivers and lakes can't depend on that meltwater.

Ross Lake in northern Washington. In 2001, little rain and a light snowpack caused water levels to drop (top). The photo above is the lake at normal water level. Photos by David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images and Zengame/Flickr.

This is a major worry in many areas, such as in the Himalayas and the many highly populated countries their glaciers feed, but in America too. In the Pacific Northwest, declining snowpack might starve the mighty Columbia River.

Shrinking rivers have their own after-effects.

We depend on rivers for much more than just drinking water. Hydroelectric dams provide 70% of the Pacific Northwest's electricity. They feed agricultural projects and provide a habitat for salmon, trout, and other creatures. We play in them and on them. All of these things could be affected.

We still have the power to head off negative changes. Transitioning to cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar means fewer climate-affecting emissions, while more judicious water usage could help head off the worst effects.

So the next time you see one of these amazing before-and-afters, remember it's only the start of the story.

The Sólheimajökull Glacier in Iceland retreated more than 2,000 feet between 2007 and 2015. Images from James Balog via AP.

Heroes

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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