These striking visuals show how rising temperatures are affecting the Earth

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content & Gill Cassar, Head,, World Economic Forum

  • 2020 was the hottest year on record, having risen to 1.2°C above the level at the end of the 19th century.
  • A new series of time-lapse images shows the dramatic impact of this warming.
  • From flooding to increasingly severe weather events, cities, businesses and citizens are being forced to adapt.

Earlier this year, 2020 was confirmed as the hottest year on record, continuing a seven-year trend. But how is this warming affecting our planet?

NASA observations show that global average temperatures in 2020 were higher than in 2016, the previous warmest year, with temperatures 1.02°C above the baseline 1951-1980 mean and 1.2°C above the average at the end of the 19th century.

Now Google Earth has released time-lapse imagery showing the dramatic impact across the globe, from the Poles to Africa and Central Asia.

a map of the world showing Global temperature anomalies in 1880-1884
Global temperature anomalies in 1880-1884. Image: Google Earth/NASA
a map of the world showing global temperature anomalies in 2013-2017
Global temperature anomalies in 2013-2017. Image: Google Earth/NASA

Meanwhile, the below images show the dramatic impact of the planet’s warming on some of its most vulnerable places.

1. Columbia Glacier, Alaska, United States

image of columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1984
Columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound, Alaska in 1984. Image: Google Earth
image of columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound, Alaska in 2020
Columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound, Alaska in 2020. Image: Google Earth

The Columbia Glacier, which flows down the Chugach Mountains into Prince William Sound, has retreated more than 20 kilometres in the time elapsed between the capture of the above two images. This makes it one of the fastest-changing glaciers on the planet, with rising temperatures one of the factors in the decline.

NASA says the glacier’s retreat adds to rising global sea levels as chunks of ice break off in a process known as “calving”. However, it says it’s likely the retreat will slow when the glacier reaches the shoreline.

2. Mylius-Erichsen Land, Greenland

image of ice sheets around Mylius-Erichsen Land, Greenland, in 1984
Ice sheets around Mylius-Erichsen Land, Greenland, in 1984. Image: Google Earth
image of ice sheets around Mylius-Erichsen Land, Greenland, in 2020
Ice sheets around Mylius-Erichsen Land, Greenland, in 2020. Image: Google Earth

Northern Greenland’s melting ice sheets add directly to the global rise in sea levels. Although some of Greenland’s glaciers have grown in recent years, NASA says this is due to a temporary cooling in sea temperatures that is likely to flip back to warming and accelerate the rate of melting.

The Greenland Ice Sheet covers 1.7 million square kilometres, an area three times the size of the US state of Texas. But despite the regrowth of some glaciers, scientists say the overall rate of ice melting from Greenland is faster is accelerating at a faster pace.

3. Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica

image of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica in 1984
Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica in 1984. Image: Google Earth
image of Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica in 2020
Pine Island Glacier, Antarctica in 2020. Image: Google Earth

Pine Island Glacier is one of the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica, where more than 97% of the surface is covered in ice sheets that hold almost three-quarters of the world’s supply of fresh water. The Pine Island Glacier is currently 2,000 metres deep resting on the seafloor, and scientists say warming seawater could cause it to retreat even faster.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.Global warming can be beaten thanks to this simple plan

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Contact us to get involved.Mission Possible Platform: Delivering industry pathways t…

Major cities face flood risk

The US Geological Survey says if all of the world’s glaciers were to melt into the ocean, global sea levels would rise 70 meters, flooding the world’s coastal cities.

As the animation illustrates, the warmer the planet gets, the more major cities will be impacted by a rise in sea levels driven by climate change. A temperature rise of 4°C would see the Chinese city of Shanghai wiped almost entirely from the map, displacing more than 20 million people.

Floods are just one threat. Heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes and wildfires all present a growing risk. In this video, Richard Mattison, of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Biodiversity & Natural Capital, expands on these threats, noting 60% of S&P 500 companies have one or more assets exposed to direct risk from extreme weather events.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

ZTE @ MWC14: ZTE excels in all areas at this year’s Mobile World Congress

EU continues to address humanitarian needs in Ethiopia by allocating over €53 million

OECD tells Eurozone to prepare its banks for a tsunami coming from developing countries

More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds

12 trade tasks to prioritize in 2021

Digitalising and modernising judicial cooperation: Council endorses provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament on service of documents and taking of evidence

PM May fosters chauvinism, declares trade war on Europe

12 ways the tech sector can help save the climate in 12 years

2019 data on official development aid & online discussion of ODA’s role in the Covid-19 crisis

Eurozone needs more than some decimals of growth

“Sorry mom it’s not our day”: the true refugee story of a young doctor and his family forced to flee their home

Lessons learnt, unlearnt or re-learnt? Analyzing the third wave of COVID-19

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

Infrastructural and system barriers to Universal Health Coverage: get in my patient’s shoes

Global Trade Identity can be the cornerstone of paperless trade

Focus on EU’s external action and building our stronger inner core: von der Leyen at the Special European Council

EU-US: A new transatlantic agenda for global change

Remittances could fall by $100 billion because of COVID-19 – here’s why that matters

Bangladesh, South Africa and Bolivia all beat the US for women’s representation in politics

COP24 negotiations: Why reaching agreement on climate action is so complex

Artificial intelligence summit focuses on fighting hunger, climate crisis and transition to ‘smart sustainable cities’

Commission proposes action to uphold child rights and support children in need

“We need to use the momentum globally to ensure that corporations pay their fare share of taxation”, EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis outlines from the World Economic Forum 2017.

Europe votes against GMOs but the Council votes for TTIP

The South China Sea Arbitration: Illegal, Illegitimate and Invalid

3 ways to use digital identity systems in global supply chains

Pakistan: UN strongly condemns terrorist attack that leaves scores dead and wounded at election rally

Statement by Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager on State aid measures to address the economic impact of COVID-19

Commission publishes the first report on the issuance of a Eurobond

4 ‘big bets’ to close the post-pandemic gender gap

Building cybersecurity capacity through benchmarking: the Global Cybersecurity Index

Insurer CEOs Reveal Marketing Strategies that Communicate the True Value of Insurance Products & Services to the Customer

Governments should step up their efforts to give people skills to seize opportunities in a digital world

State aid: Commission approves €200 million Danish loan in support of the Travel Guarantee Fund for travel cancellations due to coronavirus outbreak

‘Once-in-a-generation opportunity’ will be squandered, warns Guterres, unless social, economic, environmental challenges are met

EU free-trade agreements with Canada and US: imagine the fallout if put to national referendums

Liaison Officer – 2020

How the coronavirus market turmoil compares to 2008 – and what we can do

EU fundamental rights under threat in several member states

Pandemic declared as infections slow in China. Today’s 7 coronavirus updates

France-Germany: Divided in Europe, USA united in…Iran

Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

Employment and Social Developments in Europe review: why social fairness and solidarity are more important than ever

Iran nuclear talks’ deadline extended: the match is still open for many

Supercomputing could solve the world’s problems, and create many more

Reading the smoke signals: The long-term consequences of Amazon wildfire on global health

How a new approach to meat can help end hunger

Commission adopts Recommendation on EU coordinated approach to travel and transport in response to new variant of coronavirus in the UK

The time for cities to get smart is now

Here’s what global progress on COVID-19 vaccination looks like

Air pollution: How to end the deaths of 7 million people per year?

A Europe that protects: EU customs seized over 31 million fake goods at EU borders in 2017

Banning out-of-hours work emails could make some employees more stressed, research finds

Making technology work for 1.3 billion Indians

Mental health apps: Help is just within a pocket reach

Coronavirus response: Commission welcomes agreement on crucial VAT relief for vaccines and testing kits

Conference on the Future of Europe: Engaging with citizens to build a more resilient Europe

How to reimagine our cities as hubs for biodiversity, conservation and climate resilience

JADE Handover Ceremony at the European Parliement

We can end TB right now. Here’s how

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s