Satellite Image: Intensification of ENSO Effects in the Galapagos Islands

Cnes 2004 - 2010 - Distribution Astrium Services / Spot Image

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’.

Their ecosystems are high in diversity and endemism and home to unusual animal lifeforms, including the land iguana and the giant tortoise.

Past climate events are key to understanding how climate change will affect the future of the Galapagos.

Strong El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events have shaped the living communities of the archipelago over millennia.

Recently, during the strong events of 1981–82 and 1997–98, marine ecosystems starved as a result of the disappearance of cold-water upwelling, which is rich in nutrients.

Vital species sustaining entire communities, such as coral and seaweed, were devastated.

Coastal fauna breeding decreased, nesting patterns changed, and the mortality rates of birds, reptiles and sea lions all increased.

Climate change has the potential to cause rises in sea level, sea temperatures, ocean acidification and rainfall, all of which would exacerbate regional ENSO climate impacts.


This image was first produced and shown at the UNESCO Outdoor Exhibition ‘Satellites and World Heritage Sites, Partners to Understand Climate Change,’ shown at COP16 in Cancun, Mexico.

Developed in close partnership with Planet Action, the German Aerospace Center, the European Space Agency and the Belgian Federal Office for Science Policy and supported by the Flemish government the exhibition traveled through Mexico, to China and to the UNESCO headquarters in Paris as well as being shown at COP17 in Durban.

RTCC, in partnership with UNESCO, will be showing one satellite image daily this week. All information, both image and text corresponds to the exhibition panels.

More information and the full exhibition can be viewed here.

Read more on: Nature | |