This Mashable article discusses recently-released and declassified spy photos, which show rapid melting of colossal glaciers.
Metal canisters filled with top-secret satellite photos plummeted from space and then parachuted over the Pacific Ocean during the ’70s and ’80s. A U.S. Air Force plane would swoop down on cue and snag the classified material, ferrying the images safely back to land.
The spy satellite missions, run by the National Reconnaissance Office, sought to capture wide-ranging views of what transpired around the globe. In all, they photographed some 877 million square miles of Earth. The black and white photos, now declassified, have great scientific value: They reveal the accelerated melting of the colossal Himalayan glaciers — home to the third largest ice sheets on the planet.
In new research published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, earth scientists used this Cold War-era imagery to conclude that ice melt in the Himalayas has doubled since the year 2000, compared to the quarter-century prior.