Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Extraction of Alberta’s energy-intensive tar sands has expanded steadily in recent years, with about 232 square miles now exposed by mining operations. Tar-sands production is expected to double over the next decade, which could mean the destruction of 740,000 acres of boreal forest and a 30-percent increase in carbon emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector.

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New satellite images show the dramatic expansion that has taken place from 2001 through 2011:

tar sands satellite imagesPhotos: Robert Simmon, NASA/Landsat/USGS

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So what’s the actual impact on the ground? Here’s what happens when you turn a carbon sink like the Boreal Forest into a carbon-spewing pit of tar sands:

Tar sands before and afterPhotos: Peter Essick, National Geographic