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Winter in the Southern Hemisphere, July 2010 (NASA/GSFC)
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PHOTO GALLERY: Fragile Earth app

Ruth Styles

25th April, 2012

From shrinking seas to devastated rainforests, a new app, Fragile Earth, is helping to chart humanity’s trail of destruction while challenging us to do something about it

One of the most wonderful things about travel is returning to a place you love to see how things have changed while you’ve been gone. A new family of blackbirds might have moved in, a new boat appeared or a new plaque on a landmark. Faces will have changed, monuments might look smaller or you could be with friends instead of alone. But change isn’t always sweet. The old town you remember from summers past has been defaced by a skyscraper, while the clean beaches you sat on are now oil-smeared and deserted.

Along with reliving memories, revisiting destinations is also a useful mechanism for charting the effects of climate change and increased urbanisation on an area. And it’s this idea that is behind a new app, Fragile Planet, which uses photography to document changes to global landscapes. From the artificial islands of Dubai to the receding Briksdalsbreen glacier, the app provides a fascinating – and sometimes shocking – look at the way our planet is changing. ‘The Fragile Earth app is one of the first apps to show clearly some of the amazing changes that are happening to our planet,’ says Jethro Lennox, Head of Publishing - Collins Geo at HarperCollins. ‘The swipe function allows users to compare photographs on top of each other. This makes it especially effective when looking at satellite and aerial photographs.’ While the images are beautiful, the layering function makes it heartbreakingly easy to see the extent of the deforestation that has taken place in the Amazon, and the steady shrinkage of the Aral Sea in Central Asia.

Lennox hopes the app will help to highlight the impact we’re collectively having on the planet, and also work as an educational tool. ‘The aim of most of our publishing at Collins Geo is to make a complex subject more accessible,’ he adds. ‘With the Fragile Earth app we are opening up the fields of environmental studies and satellite imagery. The app makes it possible for anyone who has a general interest in geography, the environment, and the planet we live on, to study to these images.’

The Fragile Earth app, £1.99, is available to purchase from the iTunes app store

 

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