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OUR CHANGING ENVIRONMENT: Chomutov, Czech Republic

Pollution from coal-fired powerplants near Chomutov, Czech Republic, swept for many years over the Krusne Hory Mountains into Germany - that is, from the lower right to the upper left in the images shown on the left.

The green rectangular shapes are strip mines which supply low-grade, sulphur-rich brown coal for electricity generation.The burning of this low-grade coal not only pollutes the air but also inflicts severe damage on forests throughout Eastern Europe.

In the early 1980s, trees growing high up on the mountains began to die. The effects are shown in the central left portion of the two images. In the 1979 image, the dark areas represesent healthy, dense forest. In the 2000 image, these dark areas are replaced by areas of light grey, in which the trees have died and mostly bare soil has been left. Extensive clear-cutting of dead and dying trees has since occurred. Efforts to replace the damaged forests been widely unsuccessful.

Landsat data: USGS/EROS Data Center
Compilation: UNEP GRID Sioux Falls