During December, the Indian city of Chennai was hit by more rainfall in 24 hours than ever recorded since 1901. The brightest locations in the provided NASA satellite photo show areas that experienced 16 inches of rain or more within a 48-hour time frame. The massive pouring of rain followed a month of consistant monsoonal rains that were already well above average for the time and location.
As the worlds leaders met for the UN climate conference, the residents of Beijing saw some of the worst air pollution China has ever experienced, as seen in this satellite photo taken on November 30. About a week later, Beijing decreed its first “red alert” due to potentially dangerous levels of air pollution — seen as brown/ yellow-tinged haze in this photo — placing severe limitations on the day to day activities of Beijings population.
These satellite photos display the snowpack on the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the wet year of 2011 and the very dry year of 2015. By March 2015, many monitoring stations in the mountains recorded the smallest snowpack ever measured in history. Some locations recorded no snow at all for the first time ever.
On November 5, 2015, the full dam holding a tailings pond failed at a mine in Brazil. The break sent water and debris contaminated with toxic waste into the local river systems — the equivalent of 25 thousand full size swimming pools of toxic material. The toxic water is red in this photo because it’s full of oxidized iron.
Two years ago, a brand new volcanic island, visible in the left image, arose through the water in the western Pacific about 600 miles south of Japan. Since then the new island has grown quickly and encompassed its once larger neighbor. The joined island is now twelve times larger than the original.
The Nepali village of Langtang was located on a well known trekking path close to the base of Mount Langtang. The town was completely covered by a huge avalanche this spring. The ice laden debris and rocks were shaken loose by a huge earthquake that hit central Nepal on April 25, 2015.
This September NASA satellite photo displays huge columns of smoke covering Sumatra, Indonesia, as fires burned without control. 2015 was a record time for fires in Indonesia, and thousands of fires released clouds of particules and toxic gas over the area. This is an event that occurs year after year as land owners clear their property of debris for agriculture.
This aerial image taken in July shows the huge fast rivers on the top of the Greenland ice sheet, dropping into an apparently bottomless sinkhole in the ice. The moving grid of streams and rivers that come together during the summer ice melt can move water from the surface to the ocean, gradually removing the frozen mass of ice. A variety of research has suggested that the Greenland ice, making up many of the worlds largest glaciers, is losing more ice in the summer than it accumulates during the winter.