In 2022, we observed how interconnected our world really is, from the international games that brought us together to the seismic activity that spanned our oceans. We saw that war is felt globally and that climate change has impacted every region on Earth. For Planet, this year was marked by our goal to bring transparency to the world. Our data shined a light on critical global events, enabled investigative research, and mapped the impacts of environmental change.
We believe you need to see change to make a change — whether it is to support sustainability or peace on our highly interconnected planet. So, here are just some of the critical events our satellites revealed in 2022.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Eruption
Shock waves were felt across the Pacific as January 2022 began. The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted over a series of days, causing tsunami waves to radiate on either side of Tonga, reaching Japan on the west and Peru on the east. By January 18th, the volcanic island had nearly fully submerged underneath the ocean.
Snowfall in Athens Greece
A rare snow storm swept across Athens, Greece, marking the second year in a row that the city received unusually snowy weather. In response to the event, Athens declared a public holiday and deployed authorities to help citizens stranded on motorways.
Beijing Winter Olympics
In February, Beijing hosted their first Winter Olympics. Once again, athletes from around the world competed in the famous Bird Cage stadium, originally built for the Beijing 2008 Summer Games. However, this time around, Olympians also took to the mountainous slopes in Zhangjiakou, China for skiing, snowboarding, and lounging.
Russia Invades Ukraine
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, beginning what is now the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War which has impacted the world at large. Throughout the day, Russia bombed Ukrainian airbases, including the Chuhuiv Airbase in Kharkiv.
Queensland, Australia Flooding
In March, unprecedented flooding in Queensland, Australia drenched croplands and turned residential areas into rivers. This flooding caused thousands of Australians to evacuate their homes and elevated national conversations around the impacts of climate change.
Artemis 1 Rocket
For the first time in 50 years, a NASA moon rocket was brought to the Kennedy Space Center launch pad when Artemis 1 arrived in mid-March of 2022. The rocket made its actual successful journey to space on November 16, 2022 and returned to our atmosphere on December 11, 2022.
Attack on Russian-held Kherson Airbase
The Russo-Ukrainian War continued with counter attacks from Ukraine in March. Following the occupation of the Kherson Airbase by Russian forces, Ukraine attacked the site, damaging and destroying Russian helicopters.
Extremely Large Telescope
Aptly named, the Extremely Large Telescope began reconstruction after a Covid-19 pause in April and May of 2022. The construction took place on the Cerro Armazones, a mountaintop in the Chilean Atacama Desert. The site was specifically chosen due to its high altitude and dry air which is ideal for astronomical observations. When completed, this will be the largest telescope ever created.
In June, analysts began to investigate the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian War on the region, which has been known as the “World’s Breadbasket.” Imagery revealed Russian attacks on Ukraine’s grain ports, including bombed grain silos in Nika Tera port in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. Throughout the year, global supply chains for grain have averted their usual routes with stolen shipments being allegedly sold illegally by Russia.
Summer Wildfires in Europe
As Europe was enveloped in a sweltering summer heat, wildfires erupted across the continent. Popular beach vacation spot, La Test de Buch, France caught fire next to its charming coastal dunes, while the Salamanca Cáceres Provinces in Spain were left with significant burn scars following scorning flames.
Drought in Germany
The July heat also left Europe in severe drought. Notably, Germany’s drought depleted the country’s Rhine River levels to as low as 40 cm in some regions, causing severe supply chain slowdowns. The parched land also impacted farmers across the country whose crop yields dropped. The difference in vegetation between July 2021 and July 2022 was stark and could be seen from space from Planet’s monthly Basemaps.
In July, a Planet satellite captured these windmills laid out for assembly on the open prairies of Oklahoma. In 2021, 41% of Oklahoma’s in-state electricity generation was derived from wind power, making it the largest electric energy source in the state. In 2022, Oklahoma’s 998-megawatt Traverse Wind Project became North America’s single largest wind farm built at one time. Oklahoma ranks as the third highest U.S. state in wind energy production, following Texas and Idaho.
Floods Across Pakistan
In September, devastating floods submerged regions of Pakistan, causing the deaths of over 1,500 people and displacing over half a million individuals. The floods were caused by record monsoon rains and glacier melt exacerbated by climate change.
NASA Harvest Captures Food Security Data in Ukraine
As fall harvest season began, analysts sought to better understand global food security in the wake of the Russo-Ukrainian War. NASA’s food security research program, NASA Harvest, used Planet data to conduct in-depth research on the state of crop yields in Ukrainian-occupied and Russian-occupied territories. Their research revealed that despite the war, crops were continuing to be harvested on both sides of the frontlines.
Nord Stream Pipeline Explosion
In late September, underwater explosions burst open the Nord Stream Pipeline located in the Baltic Sea. This line transferred natural gas from Russia to Germany. After the rupture, the pipeline began releasing methane gas which surfaced as large bubbles at the top of the sea. The event is suspected to be sabotage, but the culprits have not been identified.
As hurricane season began in the southern United States, Florida experienced their deadliest hurricane since 1935. Landing as a Category 4, Hurricane Ian caused devastation across the state, claimed 146 lives, and caused approximately $50 billion in losses. The storm completely destroyed the Sanibel Causeway, the bridge system connecting Sanibel Island to mainland Florida.
Landslide in Venezuela
In October, heavy rains saturated mountains in Venezuela, causing rivers to burst their banks. Following these outpours, a landslide in Las Tejerias, Venezuela leveled hundreds of homes.
FIFA World Cup 2022
In November, the FIFA World Cup grabbed the attention of viewers from around the world, both as fans began rooting for their teams and as the media covered the controversies surrounding this year’s Qatar-based games. Planet’s satellite images captured several of the stadiums in Qatar as well as the construction of the of the Lusail Stadium from 2020 to 2022.
Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Volcanic Eruption
Coming full circle in the Pacific, we ended the year with more momentous volcanic activity. In December, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, the largest active volcano in the world, erupted for the first time since 1984, drawing curious onlookers from around the globe to Hawaii.
Planet is dedicated to helping researchers and journalists investigate and respond to important issues, and our tools are designed to do just that. Email email@example.com to learn how you can include satellite data to tell visual and compelling stories.