+
upworthy
Science

Fact: NASA takes the best before-and-after photos. Here are 10 of them.

Our world is changing every day.

nasa oimages, louisiana, before and after
via NASA

Setiment in Louisiana


NASA satellites continually monitor the Earth, snapping photos and sending information to researchers on the ground.

Most of the time, things seem to be more or less the same as they were the day before, but the Earth is actually constantly changing. Sometimes it changes through discrete events, like landslides and floods. Other times, long-term trends, such as climate change, slowly reshape the land in ways that are difficult to see.


By zooming way out, we can get a new perspective of the events that have changed the Earth. These 10 before-and-after photos show the disasters, trends, and changes that have affected our planet, as seen from space.

1. In May 2016, NASA's satellites picked up the devastating 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire.

Before:

2016, forest, satellite images

Satellite image from before the wildfire.

All images from NASA.

After:

wildfire, nature, global warming

Satellite image after the devastating fire.

All images from NASA.

In May 2016, a wildfire broke out near Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. It destroyed more than 2,400 homes and businesses and burned through roughly 1,500,000 acres of land before it was under control. (Some of the pictures use false-color imaging to distinguish between land types, by the way).

2. The satellites also captured how landscapes eventually recover from fires, like in Yellowstone.

Before:

Yellowstone, camping, national parks

Satellite image after fire in Yellowstone.

All images from NASA.

After:

plains, recovery, satellite images, California, state parks

Nature returns to normal with time.

All images from NASA.

In 1988, wildfires burned through over a third of Yellowstone National Park. 28 years later, images show that much of the forest and plains have returned.

3. They saw drought shrink Utah's Great Salt Lake over the last 30 years ...

Before:

Utah, salt lake, drought,

Image of the Utah’s Great Salt Lake before the drought.

All images from NASA.

After:

climate change, water supplies, Great Salt Lake

Water supplies have shrunk with a possible link to climate change.

All images from NASA.

Persistent drought has shrunk water supplies throughout much of the West. Scientists now think this may be linked to climate change.

4. And they showed the Mississippi pouring over its banks in March 2016.

Before:

Mississippi Delta, floods, displacement,

Satellite image of the Mississippi Delta and river.

All images from NASA.

After:

record-breaking rain, precipitation, river banks

Rivers overflow their banks with spring run offs.

All images from NASA.

Record-breaking rain inundated much of the Mississippi Delta in the spring of 2016, causing the mighty river to spill over its banks.

5. In West Virginia, surface mining reshaped mountaintops.

Before:

mountains, surface mining, land damage, capitalism

West Virginia before surface mining.

All images from NASA.

After:

resources, coal, West Virginia, ecology

West Virginia after surfacing mining for coal.

All images from NASA.

Mountaintop mining is often used to search for coal and can have lasting effects on the land.

6. In Washington state, the Oso mudslide changed the Earth back in 2014.

Before:

Washington state, mudslides, earth

Mudslides can create significant change to an environment.

All images from NASA.

After:

landslide, environmental catastrophe, deaths, NASA

A landslide reshapes a community and kills 43 people in Washington state.

All images from NASA.

43 people were killed in the March 2014 landslide in western Washington.

7. In Louisiana, sediment carried by water created new land.

Before:

topography, geology, geography

Water carries sediment which changes the topography.

All images from NASA.

After:

sediment, coastline, rive

Sediment can create new land.

All images from NASA.

Rivers and streams often carry sediment with them. As they slow down and reach the coast, that sediment falls out of the water. Over time, this can create new land, as you can see above.

8. The images show Hurricane Isaac touching down in Louisiana.

Before:

hurricanes, state of emergency, Hurricane Isaac

Satellite image before the hurricane.

All images from NASA.

After:

Louisiana, devastation, gulf coast, flooding

Image of the flooding of Louisiana after the hurricane.

All images from NASA.

Hurricane Isaac hit the gulf coast in August 2012. 41 people lost their lives and more than $2 billion worth of damage occurred. Above you can see the flooding that still lingered afterward.

9. And warming temperatures shrink Alaska's Columbia Glacier.

Before:

Alaska, glaciers, global warming

Alaska’s Columbia Glacier as seen from satellite.

All images from NASA.

After:

Columbia Glacier, climate crisis, climate change

Warmer global temperatures have shrunk many glaciers.

All images from NASA.

Over the last 28 years, warmer global temperatures have shrunk many glaciers, including Alaska's Columbia Glacier. From above, the shrinkage is crystal clear.

10. Meanwhile, our cities grew and expanded, like this image of San Antonio, Texas, shows.

Before:

Texas, expansion, San Antonio, population

The growing community of San Antonio, Texas.

All images from NASA.

After:

Alamo, Spurs basketball, environmental impact

The city has started to take up more space than the natural environment.

All images from NASA.

San Antonio — home of the Alamo and the Spurs basketball team — had a population of just over 1 million people in 1991. Today, it's added another 400,000 people.

The above images are only a small set of the many pictures NASA released. Globally, there were a ton of other interesting sites, like entire lakes turning red in Iran, new islands being formed by ocean volcanoes, and dams flooding rainforests in Brazil.

The world — and our country — is constantly changing, and we play a part in that.

Sometimes nature changes us, such as people having to respond to floodwaters, but we also know humans affect the Earth as well. And while it's true that the Earth has gone through natural cycles, we know it's now happening faster than ever before.

As the Earth will continue to change, it's important to remain aware of how we affect the Earth — and how the Earth affects us.


This article originally appeared on 01.23.17

Health

Trying to guess which twin smokes is the perfect way to help you quit

Nobody would call smoking “glamorous” after seeing these comparisons.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

Which twin smoked?

It's not revolutionary news that smoking wreaks havoc on your body in different ways. More often than not, however, the focus of anti-smoking campaigns is on your internal health, citing emphysema, heart disease, and lung cancer, to name just a few consequences.

While the superficial effects may not be as lethal, appealing to people's sense of vanity can have a powerful effect as this clever gallery below shows. Twins, only one of whom smokes, sit side by side, showing the profound damage smoking can cause to your face, hair, and teeth.

The twins' circumstances vary in each set of pictures, but the differences and effects are undeniable. In some instances, one of the twins never smoked. In others, the "smoking" twin had smoked for at least five years longer than the other "non-smoking" twin.

Though they're not common knowledge, the effects of smoking on your appearance are predictable and consistent. You can identify a smoker with ease if you know what you're looking for. Harmful smoke, dehydration, and even the heat from a burning cigarette can damage your complexion, hair, and eyes. The photos below helpfully point out the symptoms and effects on the smoking twin.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Comedian shuts down heckler cop after joke about police violence

“You disrespected me, so I’ll disrespect you.”

via Steve Hostetter

A comedian defends himself against a heckler police officer.

Some people just haven't gotten the memo: You really don't want to heckle comedian Steve Hofstetter. He's become one of my favorite stand-up acts both because he's just funny but also because of his brilliant ways of shutting down hecklers and other rude patrons who show up for his live act.

In this case, Hofstetter was in the middle of a bit where he quipped, "I don't like people." It was part of a larger joke recalling how he'd had a bad interaction with a police officer but that he was "still alive" because he was a white male.

Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Married couple swears by the '3-Hour Night' as a relationship game changer

"If you’re stuck in a rut with your evenings — try this!"

@racheleehiggins/TikTok

Want out of a relationship rut? The Three hour night might be the perfect solution.

Almost every long term relationship suffers from a rut eventually. That goes especially for married partners who become parents and have the added responsibility of raising kids. Maintaining a connection is hard enough in this busy, fast paced world. Top it off with making sure kids are awake, dressed, entertained, well fed, oh yeah, and alive…and you best believe all you have energy for at the end of the day is sitting on the couch barely making it through one episode on Netflix.

And yet, we know how important it is to maintain a connection with our spouses. Many of us just don’t know how to make that happen while juggling a million other things.

According to one mom, a “three-hour night” could be just the thing to tick off multiple boxes on the to-do list while rekindling romance at the same time. Talk about the ultimate marriage hack.

Keep ReadingShow less

An English doctor named Edward Jenner took incredible risks to try to rid his world of smallpox. Because of his efforts and the efforts of scientists like him, the only thing between deadly diseases like the ones below and extinction are people who refuse to vaccinate their kids. Don't be that parent.

Unfortunately, because of the misinformation from the anti-vaccination movement, some of these diseases have trended up in a really bad way over the past several years.

Keep ReadingShow less

New baby and a happy dad.


When San Francisco photographer Lisa Robinson was about to have her second child, she was both excited and nervous.

Sure, those are the feelings most moms-to-be experience before giving birth, but Lisa's nerves were tied to something different.

She and her husband already had a 9-year-old son but desperately wanted another baby. They spent years trying to get pregnant again, but after countless failed attempts and two miscarriages, they decided to stop trying.

Keep ReadingShow less

Having lived in small towns and large cities in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest, and after spending a year traveling around the U.S. with my family, I've seen first-hand that Americans have much more in common than not. I've also gotten to experience some of the cultural differences, subtle and not-so-subtle, real and not-so-real, that exist in various parts of the country.

Some of those differences are being discussed in a viral thread on Twitter. Self-described "West coaster" Jordan Green kicked it off with an observation about East coasters being kind and West coasters being nice, which then prompted people to share their own social experiences in various regions around the country.

Green wrote:

"When I describe East Coast vs West Coast culture to my friends I often say 'The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind,' and East Coasters immediately get it. West Coasters get mad.

Niceness is saying 'I'm so sorry you're cold,' while kindness may be 'Ugh, you've said that five times, here's a sweater!' Kindness is addressing the need, regardless of tone.

I'm a West Coaster through and through—born and raised in San Francisco, moved to Portland for college, and now live in Seattle. We're nice, but we're not kind. We'll listen to your rant politely, smile, and then never speak to you again. We hit mute in real life. ALOT.

Keep ReadingShow less