Inle Lake, Burma – to see if global warming and increasing tourism have affected water levels and the region around the lake

Cordelia introduced her entry with a recent satellite image of an area she had visited with her family in 2012. “To my eyes,” she wrote, “it seemed relatively untouched.” But, she added, “I stayed in a hotel, used cars, and ordered food that was not native to the surroundings.” She is now wondering how those behaviours, multiplied by the tens of thousands of tourists who visit Myanmar/Burma each year, are affecting the area, and so asked for a photograph that would allow her to compare the situation with how it was several years ago. She also suggested changes caused by the growing tourist industry could possibly be exacerbated by global warming: “I expect the most updated version of this image would show many fewer fields, replaced with modernised buildings and less grassland as well as a considerable decrease in the water level.”

We managed to track down a 2010 photograph of the lake (above) taken from the ISS by a member of expedition 22 – possibly Jeff Williams, who was also one of Tim Peake’s crewmates for the second half of his mission. Cordelia also has an image created using data sent from the Operational Land Imager (OLI) instrument on Landsat 8 in May this year (below). Even though the two pictures cover a shorter timespan than she thought would be needed to show obvious changes, there are clear differences between the two that will give her lots to think about.

USGS/NCEO
USGS/NCEO
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