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the Big Picture

Category: environment

October 9, 2014 Permalink

We've moved!

Six years and 966 entries after this blog launched, it's time for some updates. We've got a new design. The pictures are bigger and you can enjoy them on your phones and tablets.

Check us out at our new home on BostonGlobe.com But, don't worry! All our old entries will remain archived here on Boston.com. If you have any feedback on the changes, please let us know.

— The Big Picture team:

Bill Greene, Director of Photography
Thea Breite, Senior Multimedia Editor
Leanne Burden Seidel, Picture Editor
Lloyd Young, Photo Editor
Joel Abrams, Product Manager


September 25, 2014 Permalink

The Natural World: September

The Natural World is a monthly post that showcases photography depicting animals (sometimes in man-made habitats) and environments across the planet. --Leanne Burden Seidel (32 photos total)

A Bryde's whale and seagulls feast on anchovies in the Gulf of Thailand, Sept 9. An estimated population of 30 to 35 Bryde's whales are commonly seen along the upper Gulf of Thailand coastlines, between March and October. The Bryde's whale is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which prohibits international trade of any parts of the animal. (Rungroj Yongrit/EPA)
more photos
September 19, 2014 Permalink

Images from NASA

A collection of images released by NASA gives us a look from above and beyond earth. Amazing technology allows us to view our world in ways we could never imagine. --Leanne Burden Seidel (10 photos total)

An active region just about squarely facing Earth erupted with an X 1.6 flare (largest class) as well as a coronal mass ejection on Sept. 10. The flare lasted longer than usual and sent out a burst of radiation into space. A darker wave of material was propelled across part of the Sun's surface. Images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. (NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory)
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September 15, 2014 Permalink

Deadly flooding in India and Pakistan

Hundreds of people have died from the worst flooding in years in India and Pakistan. Tens of thousands of people are left homeless, with some still stranded in submerged homes. Most people in Kashmir's largest city Srinagar were affected by this disaster. Risk of disease is now a major concern due the stagnant water that still fills the area as emergency workers continue the relief efforts. --Leanne Burden Seidel (33 photos total)

Kashmiri residents struggle to withstand sudden and strong water currents while wading through floodwaters in their efforts to move to safer places in Srinagar, India on Sept. 4. The flooding began earlier this month in Kashmir, where it has caused landslides and submerged much of the main city of Srinagar, on the Indian-administered side. (Dar Yasin/Associated Press)
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August 22, 2014 Permalink

Deadly landslides hit Japan

Dozens of people, including children, were killed in Japan when destructive landslides hit Hiroshima. Triggered by torrential rains, the landslide buried people alive as they slept in their homes. The search for survivors in the mud-ravaged hillside continues as over 50 people are feared missing. --Leanne Burden Seidel (26 photos total)

This aerial view shows the damage caused by a landslide after heavy rains hit the city of Hiroshima, western Japan, on August 20. At least 39 people were killed and another many were still missing after a huge landslide engulfed homes in western Japan. (JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images)
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August 11, 2014 Permalink

Supermoon photographs from around the world

There’s something about moons and photographers. So when supermoons appear, it tends to bring out the best of them from all over the world, scoping out the best location to make a dramatic photograph. A supermoon occurs when the moon, which orbits Earth in a slightly elliptical trajectory, is at the absolute closest it can get while also being full. Yesterday’s supermoon did not disappoint. --Thea Breite (15 photos total)

Penha Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)
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May 23, 2014 Permalink

Spring babies 2014

Around the world, animals new to this earth experience life. In zoos and in nature, photographers captured a variety of species during these moments. --Leanne Burden Seidel (31 photos total)

Twin polar bear cubs Nela and Nobby play outside their enclosure at Tierpark Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, April 7. (Michael Dalder/Reuters)
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May 19, 2014 Permalink

The Ansel Adams Wilderness: A photographic tribute by Peter Essick

Esteemed National Geographic contributing photographer Peter Essick revisited the Ansel Adams Wilderness 75 years after Adams’s photographs made it famous, to pay tribute to Ansel Adams and the California sierra Nevada wilderness area named in his honor. These images come from his new book, ‘The Ansel Adams Wilderness.’ From the books’ introduction: “Like Adams, I am a native Californian familiar with the High Sierra, and some of my first successful photos were of this wilderness area (located between Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, and renamed for Adams following his death in 1984). For 25 years I have traveled throughout the world as a photographer for National Geographic magazine, but the High Sierra always has had a special place in my heart.” --Thea Breite (30 photos total)

Frost covers an aspen leaf on a cold October morning near Parker Lake. (Peter Essick)
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April 28, 2014 Permalink

Tornadoes kill at least 18

Tornadoes ripped through the south-central United States Monday morning. Arkansas was the hardest hit, with at least 16 people dead. The storm system produced the first fatalities of this year's U.S. tornado season. According to weather.com, severe storms and tornadoes will continue into midweek. --Thea Breite (14 photos total)

A row of lightly damages houses, top, face destroyed homes in a Vilonia, Ark., neighborhood Monday, April 28, 2014 after a tornado struck the town late Sunday, killing at least 16 people. (Danny Johnston/AP)
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April 22, 2014 Permalink

Earth Day 2014

First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events are held across the globe to inspire us to appreciate the world we live in and protect our environment. Conservation of natural resources, ending pollution, protecting wildlife, and creating sustainable environments are some of the themes spread among many countries. --Leanne Burden Seidel (18 photos total)

The planet Earth is seen in a photo taken by NOAA's GOES-East satellite at 07:45EST (11:45GMT) on Earth Day, April 22. (NOAA via Reuters)
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March 21, 2014 Permalink

Spring 2014

Spring was welcomed in the northern hemisphere this week after a long, cold winter for many. The temperatures and visual cues of spring are not omnipresent for all regions, but for some around the world, beauty abounds. --Leanne Burden Seidel (26 photos total)

A Palestinian man and his daughter pick wild mustard flowers which grow in untilled fields across the Gaza Strip, on March 20, as the official start of spring is marked by the by the Vernal Equinox. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 11, 2014 Permalink

2014 Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race

Dallas Seavey won the Iditarod Trail Dog Race in a dramatic finish today, rallying from third place. A storm knocked out the front-runner and Seavey finished in a record-breaking pace. The race was riddled with harsh conditions due to lack of snow leading to many injuries. Dogs and mushers brave about 1000 miles of challenging Alaskan terrain and we are lucky that a few photographers have given us a glimpse of this amazing long trek. --Leanne Burden Seidel (42 photos total)

Dogs on Mike Santos' team leave the chute during the ceremonial start to the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, March 1. (Nathaniel Wilder/Reuters)
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March 3, 2014 Permalink

Washington D.C. area has yet another snow day

Snow began falling in the nation's capital early Monday, and officials warned people to stay off treacherous, icy roads a scene that has become familiar to residents in the Midwest, East and even Deep South this year. Schools were canceled, bus service was halted in places and federal government workers in the DC area were told to stay home Monday. --Thea Breite (13 photos total)

National Park Service employee Eric Tolliver shovels snow and ice at the Lincoln Memorial as snow falls in Washington, Monday, March 3, 2014. (Charles Dharapak/AP)
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February 14, 2014 Permalink

Flooding in Britain

Weeks of extraordinary wet weather has lead to disastrous flooding in Britain. The area has seen the most rain in almost 250 years. Homes and farms have been flooded for weeks in southwest England with worries of more rain to come. --Leanne Burden Seidel (28 photos total)

A boot floats in flood water at a flooded estate in Egham after the River Thames burst its banks in southeast England Feb. 13. ( Luke MacGregor/Reuters)
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January 3, 2014 Permalink

Erupting volcanoes

Photographers in different parts of the world have been busy covering active volcanoes in recent weeks. In Indonesia, Italy, El Salvador and Japan, the craters in the earth erupted with lava, gases, or ash. --Leanne Burden Seidel (26 photos total)

People observe an eruption at the South East Crater of Mt. Etna from the monitoring station of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology at the Schiena dell'Asino, near Catania, in Sicily, southern Italy, early Dec. 30. Mt. Etna is Europe's most active volcano at 3,350 meters. (Salvatore Allegra/Associated Press)
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December 23, 2013 Permalink

December around the world

A snowstorm in the Middle East, 95 degree temperatures in Buenos Aires, flooding in Gaza, ice storms in Canada. It’s a typical December around the world. Or is it? --Thea Breite (17 photos total)

Eve Grayson, a Reindeer herder of the Cairgorm Reindeer Herd, feeds the deer on December 23, 2013 in Aviemore, Scotland. Reindeer were introduced to Scotland in 1952 by Swedish Sami Reindeer herder, Mikel Utsi. Starting with just a few reindeer, the herd has now grown in numbers over the years and is currently at about 130 by controlling the breeding. (Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)
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December 9, 2013 Permalink

The Farne Islands counts its Puffins and other seabirds

The Farne Islands are off the coast of northeast England and are home to a huge seabird colony. The islands are owned and protected by the British conservation charity, the National Trust, which says the islands host some 23 species of seabird, as well as a substantial colony of grey seals, who come to have their pups there in the autumn. Every five years the National Trust carries out a census of the islands' population of puffins, and this year's survey showed there were almost 40,000 nesting pairs on the islands - an 8 percent rise from 2008. -Thea Breite ( 18 photos )

Rangers remove a puffin from its burrow on the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, northern England on May 15. (Nigel Roddis/Reuters)
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December 2, 2013 Permalink

Two communities fight for food on the Kenyan and Ethiopian border

The Turkana are traditionally nomadic pastoralists, but the pastures needed to feed their herds suffer from recurring droughts and many have turned to fishing. The trend began back in the 1960s, following a devastating drought, which wiped out entire herds. The government introduced communities to fishing in the mostly untouched Lake Turkana. But now the lake is overfished, and scarcity of food and pastureland is fueling a long-standing conflict with Ethiopian indigenous Dhaasanac, who have seen grazing grounds squeezed by large-scale government agricultural schemes in southern Ethiopia. The Dhaasanac now venture deeper into Kenyan territory in search of fish and grass, clashing with neighbors. “The Turkana and the Dhaasanac have been enemies for a long time. However, before they used to fight with spears and other rudimental weapons,” said Turkana leader Pius Chuchu.--Thea Breite

( 19 photos )


A Turkana man stands in the entrance of a cattle kraal (corral) at dawn in the disputed area of the Ilemi Triangle in northwestern Kenya near the borders with Ethiopia and South Sudan on Oct. 15. (Siegfried Modola/Reuters)

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November 18, 2013 Permalink

Tornadoes and severe weather slam the midwest

A powerful late-season wave of tornadoes, thunderstorms and damaging winds hit 12 states on Sunday. News organizations reported anywhere from dozens (The Washington Post) to over 81 (The Chicago Tribune) tornadoes that touched down in the midwest, killing at least eight people. Looking at these photographs, its hard to imagine that so many people walked away unharmed. Washington, Ill., a town of 15,000 people east of Peoria was hit hardest by an EF-4 tornado with winds of up to 190 mph. --Thea Breite ( # 22 )

A tornado moves northeast two miles west of Flatville, Ill., on Nov. 17. The tornado damaged many farm buildings and homes on its way to Gifford, Ill., where scores of houses were devastated. (Jessie Starkey/Associated Press/News-Gazette)
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October 30, 2013 Permalink

Autumn around the world 2013

Photographers around the planet captured the changing colors and dramatic light that signify the movement of animals and the start of colder temperatures for many parts of the world. -Leanne Burden Seidel ( 30 photos total)

A girl shakes a young tree to make the yellow leaves fall in a park among seasonal colored trees on an autumn day in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Oct. 14. (Sergei Grits/Associated Press)
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October 21, 2013 Permalink

Potential effects of agrochemicals in Argentina

Agrochemical spraying in Argentina has increased ninefold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today. Yet the South American nation has a hodgepodge of widely ignored regulations that leave people dangerously exposed, and chemicals contaminate homes, classrooms, and drinking water. Doctors and scientists are warning that uncontrolled spraying could be causing health problems across the nation. ( 17 photos )

Soybeans ready for harvest are bathed in afternoon light near Rawson, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina on April 16. American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world's third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren't confined to soy, cotton, and corn fields. They routinely contaminate homes and classrooms and drinking water. A growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that their uncontrolled use could be responsible for the increasing number of health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation. (Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press)
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October 7, 2013 Permalink

Broken lives of Fukushima

In 2011 a massive earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in a meltdown that became the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years. About 160,000 people living near the plant were ordered to move out and the government established a 20-km compulsory evacuation zone. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, is struggling to contain contaminated water at the site 240 km north of Tokyo. There have been multiple leaks and glitches over the last two and a half years. Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj returned to this abandoned area last month and captured these haunting images.( 25 photos total)

A small monument to victims is seen in front of an abandoned house at the tsunami destroyed coastal area of the evacuated town of Namie in Fukushima prefecture, some 6 km (4 miles) from the crippled Daiichi power plant, Sept. 22. Namie's more than 20,000 former residents can visit their homes once a month with special permissions but are not allowed to stay overnight inside the exclusion zone. A total of 160,000 people were ordered to leave their homes around Daiichi plant after the government announced the evacuation following the nuclear disaster in March 2011. (Damir Sagolj/Reuters)
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August 2, 2013 Permalink

Winners: National Geographic Traveler 2013 Photo Contest

On May 10, 2013 The Big Picture featured some of the thousands of images that were entered in the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Magazine Photo Contest. The winners have been chosen. Their images follow. (The winners gallery is also available here as well as the complete contest and all its entrants here. You can see the editor's picks and can download wallpaper images for your desktop or your smartphone.) The winning images will appear in the Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. (NOTE: The captions are written by the photographer.) --EDITOR'S NOTE: The Big Picture will post again on Wednesday, August 7. (11 photos total)

First Place: Dig me river
I was in Manaus, Amazonas, during the Brazilian Aquathlon (swimming and running) championship. I photographed it from the water and my lens got completely wet, but there was so much energy in these boys that I just didn't worry about that.(Photo and caption by Wagner Araujo/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
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July 24, 2013 Permalink

Earthquake in Gansu province, China

A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit the city of Dingxi in China's Gansu province on Monday, killing at least 94 people and injuring as many as 1,000. Efforts have been under way to help and search for the victims in the area, home to about 2.7 million people. Most of the deaths and damage occurred in the southern, rural region making it difficult for rescue efforts.- Leanne Burden Seidel (29 photos total)

Family members consoled a woman who lost her daughter in a 6.6 magnitude earthquake in Minxian county, Dingxi, Gansu province July 22.(Reuters/China Daily)
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July 12, 2013 Permalink

Solar Impulse flight: Across the US, powered by the sun

The experimental airplane Solar Impulse completed its first flight across the United States this week. The Swiss-made plane, powered only by the sun, is the first to make the trip both day and night without using conventional fuel. It started the journey on May 3 in California and ended on July 6 in New York. Pilots and creators Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg took turns manning the single-seat flyer, which is powered by about 12,000 silicon solar cells and has a wingspan of a jumbo jet. The next step is a trip around the world in 2015.- Leanne Burden Seidel (24 photos total)

Workers load a wing of the Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse into a Cargolux Boeing 747 cargo aircraft on February 20 at Payerne airport in Geneva. The Boeing will carry the Solar Impulse HB-SIA prototype aircraft to San Francisco for a series of flights across the US from the West to East Coast. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)
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June 17, 2013 Permalink

The start of the Monsoon season

Monsoon season in southern Asia has begun, and in India the rains arrived ahead of schedule, easing drought concerns. Monsoon rains can be disruptive and even deadly, but crucial for the farmers whose crops feed millions of people. Though concerns for flooding are prevalent, the arrival of the rains brings colorful celebrations and relief from the heat every year. -Leanne Burden Seidel (32 photos total)

An Indian buffalo herder holding a traditional handmade umbrella stands in a field to keep watch of his buffaloes as monsoon clouds hover above in Bhubaneswar, India, on June 13, 2013. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)
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May 24, 2013 Permalink

Puffin census on the Farne Islands

Every five years, National Trust rangers carry out a puffin census on the Farne Islands, off the northeast coast of England. The beautiful birds return to their breeding grounds on the islands, which offer excellent sources of food, few ground predators, and good protection for nesting. This count carries particular significance because the last survey in 2008, recording 36,500 pairs, indicated that numbers had fallen by a third from the 2003 census. There is also fear that the extreme weather in the past year could affect the numbers. In March, thousands of birds washed up dead due to severely cold winds, and last summer, many of the birds were flooded out of their homes. Rangers are now faced with the daunting task of counting every burrow-nesting bird, which involves reaching down to each of the underground nests to see if it is occupied. The results will be ready in July. -Leanne Burden Seidel (15 photos total)

Puffins return to their summer breeding grounds on the Farne Islands in Northeast England on May 16, 2013. They are often called "sea parrots" due to their colorful beaks. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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May 10, 2013 Permalink

National Geographic Traveler Magazine: 2013 Photo Contest

The National Geographic Traveler Magazine photo contest, now in its 25th year, has begun. There is still plenty of time to enter. The entry deadline is Sunday, June 30, at 11:59 p.m. Entrants may submit their photographs in any or all of the four categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place and Spontaneous Moments. The magazine's photo editors showcase their favorite entries each week in galleries. You can also vote for your favorites. "The pictures increasingly reflect a more sophisticated way of seeing and interpreting the world, making the judging process more difficult," says Keith Bellows, magazine editor in chief. (The captions are written by the entrants, some slightly edited for readability.) As always, you can take a look at some of last year's entries and winners.. -- Paula Nelson ( 40 photos total)

OUTDOOR SCENES - Portrait of an Eastern Screech Owl - Masters of disguise. The Eastern Screech Owl is seen here doing what they do best. You better have a sharp eye to spot these little birds of prey. Okeefenokee Swamp, Georgia, USA. (Photo and caption by Graham McGeorge/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
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May 3, 2013 Permalink

Daily Life: April 2013

I look forward each month to browsing the compilation of "slice of life" images from around the world. They offer us a visual break, if you will, from the tragedies, disasters, wars and violence seemingly so pervasive in our world. Through these images, we can immerse ourselves in the simplicity of everyday life. Daily Life: April 2013 takes us to North and South Korea, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Spain, Indonesia, China, Russia; and around the United States to California, Texas, Maine, Florida, Kansas, Washington state, and more. Enjoy.--- Paula Nelson ( 49 photos total)

A village boy holds a traditional handmade umbrella as he keeps watch over cattle grazing in the field on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, India, April 20, 2013. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)
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April 5, 2013 Permalink

Last of the Trawler Men

Reuters photographer, Dylan Martinez, recently spent a few days in the once-busy fishing port of Whitby. Now just 200 people are employed in fishing; the fleet is down to only a few boats. Things aren't looking good for Locker - one of the last remaining trawler men in the area. A combination of crippling fishing quotas, climate change and overfishing has all but crushed the local fishing industry. Global warming has expanded fish habitats northward, causing fish stocks to sometimes disappear for weeks on end. Boats return from sea with largely empty nets, and the atmosphere, dour. Often schools of fish then reappear unpredictably, resulting in bumper catches and jubilation - then E.U. quotas take effect and force fishermen to dump excess catch in the sea to avoid hefty E.U. fines. This scenario is echoed in other historic fishing areas across the globe, including New England. -- Paula Nelson( 30 photos total)

A seagull flies off the coast of Whitby, seen from aboard the Whitby Rose in the North Sea, northern England, February 28, 2013. Whitby was once a busy fishing port, but now only 200 people are employed in the fishing industry. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters)
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March 27, 2013 Permalink

Simulating Mars on Earth

Scientists in both the United States and Morocco are studying what it would be like for human beings to live on Mars. Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart spent time in the Utah desert at the Mars Desert Research Station observing a crew simulate what conditions would be like on the red planet. Researchers with the Austrian Space Forum in partnership with the Ibn Battuta Center spent time in the northern Sahara conducting experiments in engineering, planetary surface operations, astrobiology, and geophysics. -- Lloyd Young ( 27 photos total)

Matt Cross, left, rover engineer, Hans van 't Woud, center, mapping researcher and health and safety officer, and Melissa Battler, geologist and commander of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission of the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), wait in an airlock in their simulated spacesuits before venturing out to collect geologic samples in the Utah desert on March 2. The MDRS aims to investigate the feasibility of a human exploration of Mars and uses the Utah desert's Mars-like terrain to simulate working conditions on the red planet. Scientists, students and enthusiasts work together developing field tactics and studying the terrain. All outdoor exploration is done wearing simulated spacesuits and carrying air supply packs and crews live together in a small communication base with limited amounts of electricity, food, oxygen and water. Everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on site. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)
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March 18, 2013 Permalink

World Water Day 2013

Over twenty years ago the United Nations recognized March 22 as the first World Water Day. This year's theme is water cooperation. As the following photographs show, the need for cooperation on this precious resource is great, as some enjoy plenty while others suffer drought. Collected here are images of water and its many uses as we approach the annual World Water Day. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

Water drips from icicles along the Oude Gracht canal in Utrecht on January 25, 2013. (Michael Kooren/Reuters)
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March 11, 2013 Permalink

Shoreline

The shoreline -- of the sea, lakes, and rivers -- is a dynamic interface of civilization and the natural world. It exerts a powerful draw on us. That transition space holds beauty and carries risk, the zone where we at once embrace and battle the environment in which we exist. The shoreline provides food, recreation, breeding grounds, commerce, peace, and even primal fear. Two thirds of the world's largest cities lie in low-elevation coastal areas, vulnerable to sea rise even as population trends show us increasingly dwelling in urban areas. Gathered here are images exploring our attraction to the water's edge. -- Lane Turner (46 photos total)

Christian Tio of the Philippines freestyles during day three of the KTA Bintan at Argo Beach Resort on February 23, 2013 in Bintan Island, Indonesia. (Xaume Olleros/Getty Images)
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March 1, 2013 Permalink

National Archives: Searching for the Seventies

“Searching for the Seventies” takes a new look at the 1970s using remarkable color photographs taken for a Federal photography project called Project DOCUMERICA (1971-1977). Created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOCUMERICA was born out of the decade’s environmental awakening, producing striking photographs of many of that era’s environmental problems and achievements. Drawing its inspiration from the depression era Farm Security Administration photography project, project photographers created a portrait of America in the early-and-mid-1970s. They documented small Midwestern towns, barrios in the Southwest, and coal mining communities in Appalachia. Their assignments were as varied as African American life in Chicago, urban renewal in Kansas City, commuters in Washington, DC, and migrant farm workers in Colorado. The exhibit, featuring 90 images from the project opens March 8, 2013 at the National Archives in Washington D.C. It runs through September 8, 2013. What follows is a small sampling of the collection digitized by the National Archives. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: Captions were provided.)( 30 photos total)

Children play in the yard of Ruston home, while a Tacoma smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue. Ruston, Washington, August 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)
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February 15, 2013 Permalink

2013 World Press Photo Contest Winners

For over 55 years, the World Press Photo contest has encouraged the highest standards in photojournalism. The contest is judged by leading experts in visual journalism who represent various aspects of the profession and the composition of the jury is changed from year to year. The prize-winning images are assembled into an exhibition that travels to 45 countries over the course of a year and over two million people go to a hundred different venues to see the images. The winners themselves uphold the foundation's simple mission statement: We exist to inspire understanding of the world through quality photojournalism. A sampling of the winning images follows. You can browse more amazing content on World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: There will be no post on Monday in observance of the holiday.) ( 18 photos total)

World Press Photo of the Year 2012 - Paul Hansen/Sweeden/Dagens Nyheter - Nov. 20, 2012, Gaza City, Palestinian Territories. Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and her three-year-old brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put in intensive care. Fouad’s brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher.
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January 25, 2013 Permalink

China's Skies: Toxic levels of pollution

No country in history has become a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage. China is clearly not an exception. The speed and scale of China's rise has brought an unprecedented pollution problem. Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China's leading cause of death according to the Ministry of Health. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. The factories and spewing automobile engines recently caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled in and around Beijing. Stores are selling out of face masks and the government struggles to figure out this political challenge and provide relief of the long-term burden on its people. -- Paula Nelson ( 47 photos total)

A woman wears a mask as she does her morning exercise outdoors in Fuyang, Anhui province, Jan. 14, 2013. China's environmental watchdog has ordered greater efforts to issue early warnings for air quality. (China Daily/Reuters)
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January 7, 2013 Permalink

2012 National Geographic Photography Contest Winners

The winners have been named in the 2012 National Geographic Photography contest. As a leader in capturing the world through brilliant imagery, National Geographic sets the standard for photographic excellence. This year's competition brought 22,000 entries from over 150 countries, professionals and amateurs participating. Photographs were submitted in three categories: people, places and nature; and entries judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There was a Grand Prize winner, a winner in each category and a collection of Viewer's Choice Winners as well. Enjoy. -- Paula Nelson ( 14 photos total)

Grand Prize Winner and 1st Place/Nature: THE EXPLOSION! - The subject's name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioral shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favorably on me that day! (Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest)
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December 20, 2012 Permalink

Best nature pictures of 2012

This is a compilation of images in which photographers have captured the beauty of our world, along with great moments among the living things we share this planet with. Most are from the reoccurring photo gallery The Natural World, in which photos of animals and our environment are selected from the many wire service photos moved throughout the year from all over the world. Many great photos of animals are taken in zoos, but this entry mostly shows creatures in their own habitat. -Leanne Burden Seidel(53 photos total)

A lenticular cloud formed as high winds blew over the rugged Crazy Mountains in Montana. Lenticular clouds are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes. (James Woodcock, Billings Gazette via Associated Press)
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December 17, 2012 Permalink

2012 Year in Pictures: Part I

Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)

Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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December 12, 2012 Permalink

Let it Snow

For those who desire a layer of snow with their holiday season it's been mainly green and brown so far this year in the Boston area. Since the start of December, here are some places that have already had the chance to experience the beauty and sometimes annoyance of a winter wonderland. -- Lloyd Young ( 32 photos total)

A train of the Brocken Railway steams through a winter landscape with snow covered pine trees as it approaches its destination on the Brocken mountain in the Harz mountainous region of Germany on Dec 8. (Stefan Rampfel/European Pressphoto Agency)
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December 7, 2012 Permalink

The wake of Typhoon Bopha: Philippines

Typhoon Bopha, an incredibly powerful typhoon, has killed hundreds, triggered landslides and floods and left immeasurable destruction in its path in the Philippines. The death toll stands at over 500 – entire families washed away – many still missing. At least 200 of the victims died in Compostela Valley alone. A muddy wasteland of collapsed houses and trees felled by ferocious winds; 300,000 left homeless in great need of water, food and shelter. – Paula Nelson ( 38 photos total)

Typhoon Bopha is shown moving toward the Philippines from the International Space Station, Dec. 2, 2012. The typhoon slammed into the Davao region of the Philippines early Dec. 4, killing hundreds and forcing more than 50,000 to flee from inundated villages. (NASA/Associated Press)
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November 2, 2012 Permalink

Hurricane Sandy: Recovery

Hurricane Sandy battered the mid-Atlantic region with powerful gusts and storm surges that cause epic flooding in the coastal communities of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, knocking down trees and power lines and leaving more than eight million people – including large parts of Manhattan – in the rain-soaked dark. The mammoth storm packed maximum sustained winds of 80 mph. Those powerful winds, driving rain and storm surge are blamed for 98 deaths in the United States (although numbers still vary), including two small boys who were swept out of their mother’s arms. The toll of the storm is staggering, including a rampaging fire that reduced more than 100 houses to ash in Breezy Point, Queens. New Jersey took the brunt, officials estimating that the state suffered many billions of dollars in property damage. Residents began the long, slow process of recovery. – Paula Nelson ( 46 photos total)

An American flag is raised among the wreckage homes devastated by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York, Oct. 31, 2012. The U.S. Northeast began an arduous journey back to normal after historic storm Sandy crippled transportation, knocked out power for millions and killed at least 64 people with a massive storm surge that caused epic flooding. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
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October 22, 2012 Permalink

Matt Black's Mixteca

The Big Picture posted some of photographer Matt Black's images of the Mixteca in July of 2011. The pictures were part of an ongoing long-term documentary project on the region and its people. I included a link to Black's Kickstarter campaign, and Big Picture readers responded in force, helping fund another trip to the area. The pictures below are the result of that trip, and it seems only right to share them with the readers who helped make them possible. This time, Black focused on farmers dealing with the area's severe soil erosion. He writes, "Southern Mexico's Mixteca region is one of the most heavily eroded landscapes on earth: up to five meters of topsoil have been lost. In the town of Santiago Mitlatongo, soil loss triggered a geological phenomenon called "slumping." Like a slow-motion landslide, the town is sliding downhill at the rate of one meter per day, destroying homes and livelihoods as houses and farmland slip into the valley below." Interested readers can join Black in a web conference hosted by Orion Magazine tomorrow. -- Lane Turner (16 photos total)

A collapsing mountain sends rocks towards the village below. (Matt Black)
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October 19, 2012 Permalink

National Geographic Photo Contest 2012

It’s that time again…the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest is in full swing. The contest has reached his midpoint but there is plenty of time to enter before the November 30, 2012 deadline. Photographers of all skill levels - from professional to amateur - across the globe, submitted more than 20,000 entries from 130 countries in last year’s competition. The photographs are judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts in the field. There is a first place winner in each of three categories: People, Places and Nature, and a grand prizewinner as well. The following images are a sampling of the competition thus far – twelve images in each category. The caption information is provided and written by the individual photographer. – Paula Nelson ( 36 photos total)

NATURE’S ART (Nature) - Dried up delta of the Kimberly region, N.W. Australia. Creates the most sophisticated patterns only appreciated from above. (Photo and caption by Ted Grambeau/National Geographic Photo Contest)
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October 12, 2012 Permalink

Autumn 2012: Celebration of the season

The arrival of autumn brings falling leaves; vibrant and rich jewel-toned colors across the landscape; a distinct change in temperature; festivals and some celebrations. The world often marks the September event as special. Throughout history, the first day of autumn has been considered a good time to take stock of the year’s successes and failures. A myth in many cultures holds that some mystical forces let us stand eggs on their ends for a short time immediately before or after the exact time of the equinox. In Greek mythology, autumn begins when the goddess Persephone returns to the underworld to live with her kidnapper, Hades – in repayment of the six pomegranate seeds she illicitly ate. Here, a look at a diverse collection of autumn photographs. – Paula Nelson ( 65 photos total)

Two Adirondack chairs sit vacant on a dock along the misty shore of the Androscoggin River in Turner, Maine, Oct. 3, 2012, as the fall foliage nears peak color. (Amber Waterman/Sun Journal)
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September 10, 2012 Permalink

Harvest

Harvest is a time of plenty, when the season's hard work is rewarded by bounty. Many of the rhythms of our lives are shaped by the gathering of crops, even if most of us now live in cities. Worldwide, festivals and rituals mark the passage from growing season to harvest, with indigenous and popular practices making fall in the Northern Hemisphere a festive time. This year sees a reduced harvest in much of the world as extreme weather decimated many regions. Half of the United States is in prolonged drought, as well as much of Europe. In India, the monsoon is 20 percent off the annual average. Food prices are expected to rise by 2013 as demand taxes supplies, and later the price rises will transfer to the meat industry as costs of feed for livestock are passed on. Gathered here are images of farms industrial and traditional, crops critical and obscure, and harvest festivals among drought and bounty. -- Lane Turner (41 photos total)

A rainbow shines in the background of a sun-bathed wheat field east of Walla Walla, Wash. on July 16, 2012. High temperatures near 100 degrees have turned fields to gold as harvest draws near. (Jeff Horner/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Associated Press)
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August 20, 2012 Permalink

Winners: National Geographic Traveler 2012 Photo Contest

On June 22, 2012 The Big Picture featured some (just 54) of the thousands of images that were entered in the 2012 National Geographic Traveler Magazine Photo Contest. It was a popular post with over 731 comments by viewers. The winners have been chosen. Their images follow. (The winners gallery is also available here as well as the complete contest and all its entrants here. You can see the editor's picks and can download wallpaper images for your desktop or your smartphone.) It's a wonderful visual treat from around the world. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: The captions are written by the photographer.) (11 photos total)

This image was shot in the Kyrgyz lands of the Wakhan Corridor. The intimacy of this everyday life moment, shot inside of a family yurt, is in total contrast with the harsh environment these nomadic tribes live in. On the right we notice a television and a sound console. These tribes live weeks away from any village by foot. In spite of being located at an altitude of 4,300 meters in one of the most remote areas of Afghanistan they are equipped with solar panels, satellite dishes and cellphones. Ancestral ways of living - with touches of modernity. (Photo and caption by Cedric Houin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest)
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August 17, 2012 Permalink

Cleanup begins after massive flooding in Manila

Relentless rains submerged at least a third to one half of the sprawling Philippine capital of Manila, triggering a landslide that killed nine people and sent emergency crews scrambling to rescue tens of thousands of residents. The deluge, the worst to hit Manila since 2009 (when hundreds died in rampaging flash floods), was set off by the seasonal monsoon that overflowed major dams and rivers in the city and surrounding provinces. Residents were under waist- or neck-deep waters at one point. Clean up has begun, but remains a huge task for the area. At least 60 have died, most from drowning. -- Paula Nelson (23 photos total)

Regie Pacheco shovels mud outside his home that was partially swept away in flash flooding in a low lying community hard hit by the flooding Aug. 12, 2012, Manila, Philippines. According to the Office of Civil Defense the floods left at least 66 people dead and affected up to 2.68 million people in Manila and surrounding provinces, with more than 440,000 fleeing to evacuation centers. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
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August 6, 2012 Permalink

Gold

The pursuit of gold medals has athletes and fans focused on the Olympic games in London, but the pursuit of gold is a worldwide obsession that extends far beyond the realm of sport. Investors and speculators drove the price of gold to dizzying heights a year ago as they sought refuge from volatile markets. Seeking gain in an uncertain recession, millions of people trade old jewelry as cash-for-gold businesses flourish. Throughout the ups and downs, gold extraction continues far from the glory of sports and the frenzy of markets. Gold is dredged, mined, and panned in operations large and small, often at great risk to miners. Processing gold with cyanide and other chemicals involves dangerous environmental hazards. What results is undeniably beautiful. Gathered here are images of people extracting, processing, refining, buying, selling, celebrating… all of them going for gold. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

A small-scale miner holds his gold that was melted together at a processing plant north of Ulan Bator on April 5, 2012. Mongolia is home to some of the world's biggest unexploited mineral deposits, and has become one of the hottest destinations for billions of dollars of mining investment. (David Gray/Reuters)
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July 20, 2012 Permalink

Downpour and drought

An unexpected downpour briefly drenched parts of the US this week, while most of the central and southern United States continued to experience drought conditions - expected to be the most expansive drought in a half century. In the South, 14 states are now baking in blast-furnace conditions - from Arizona, which is battling the largest wildfire in its history, to Florida, where fires have burned some 200,000 acres so far. More than 70 percent of the nine-state Midwest was in some stage of drought this week. More extreme heat and scant rains were expected in the area, suggesting the poorest crop conditions since the historic 1988 drought. The visual documentation of the breadth and depth of the current drought conditions has just begun. This is a small sampling of images, expect much more storytelling to come in the weeks ahead. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

People walk through heavy rain at Times Square in New York, July 18, 2012. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
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June 15, 2012 Permalink

Brazil: 2012

Mario Tama, a Getty Images staff photographer since 2001 and based in New York, has covered conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan - as well as numerous humanitarian crises and natural disasters in the US and around the world, including most recently the earthquake in Haiti and the tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri. He's also spent extensive time documenting Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath. Mario will be working on several feature stories in Brazil, ahead of the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Energy, his first work featured in this post. The summit aims to overcome years of deadlock over environmental concerns and marks the 20th anniversary of the landmark Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Brazil is now the world's sixth largest economy and is set to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Mario’s' editor on the project describes him as passionate and enthusiastic about showing us pieces of a country in which he has traveled before, drawn by the people, the culture and the economics/development of the region. -- Paula Nelson (48 photos total)

Federal highway BR-222, June 9, 2012 in Para state, Brazil. Highway construction through Amazonian rainforest has led to accelerated rates of deforestation. Although deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is down 80 percent since 2004, environmentalists fear recent changes to the Forest Code will lead to further destruction. Around 20 percent of the rainforest has already been destroyed. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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June 4, 2012 Permalink

Pedal power

For well over a hundred years, people have hopped on bicycles for transportation, recreation, competition, and more. In many parts of the world, spinning pedals moves goods and generates electricity. While usually attached to two wheels, pedal power takes many forms, adapting to a wide range of needs. Globally, over 100 million bicycles are produced every year - over 60% of them in China - easily doubling world production of automobiles. Efficient, clean, and cheap, pedal power in all its forms can solve modern problems with basic technology, and offers a health benefit to those cranking away. And it's hard to beat the simple joy of riding a bike. Gathered here are images of people around the world as we pedal for a reason, or just because. -- Lane Turner (49 photos total)

A boy rides his bicycle near rice fields in Bago, Myanmar on February 20, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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May 25, 2012 Permalink

Finding community in America's Appalachian region

Getty Images photographer, Mario Tama, spent time in and around Owsley County, Kentucky documenting the life and times of some of it's 5,000 residents. The 2010 U.S. Census listed Owsley County as having the lowest median household income in the country outside of Puerto Rico, with 41.5% of residents living below the poverty line. Familial and community bonds run deep, with a populace that shares a collective historical and cultural legacy uncommon in most parts of the country. The community struggles with a lack of jobs due to the decline in coal, tobacco and lumber industries. It's just a glimpse into their lives, but one we wanted to share. -- Paula Nelson (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012.) (46 photos total)

Craig and Cora Adams, married nine years, outside their trailer in Owsley County, April 20, 2012, in Booneville, Kentucky. Daniel Boone once camped in the Appalachian mountain hamlet of Owsley County which remains mostly populated by descendants of settlers to this day. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
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May 21, 2012 Permalink

Ring of Fire Eclipse: 2012

A rare annular eclipse - a ring of sunlight as the new moon, passing between Earth and sun, blocks most, but not all, of the sun's disc. It is striking to see. Differing from a total solar eclipse, the moon in an annular eclipse appears too small to cover the sun completely, leaving a ring of fire effect around the moon. The eclipse cast its shallow path crossing the West from west Texas to Oregon then arcing across the northern Pacific Ocean to Tokyo, Japan. (Thanks to all Big Picture viewers for sending us your images of the eclipse.) -- Paula Nelson (49 photos total)

A partial solar eclipse as seen during sunrise in the coastal town of Gumaca, Quezon province, southeast of Manila, May 21, 2012. Thousands turned their eyes to the sky on both sides of the Pacific to gaze excitedly as an eclipse occluded the sun at dawn in Asia and at dusk in the western United States. An annular eclipse occurs when the moon passes in front of the sun, but is too far from the Earth to block it out completely, leaving a "ring of fire" visible. (Ted Aljibeted Aljibe/AFP/GettyImages)
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May 18, 2012 Permalink

Daily Life: May 2012

Thousands of images are supplied by multiple wire services to newspapers across the country each day. Many of those images depict ordinary scenes of life in different countries around the world. There are three picture editors that contribute to the Big Picture blog, each of them seeing the world in a little bit of a different way. Their backgrounds, their experiences, their interests - all very disparate. Each of them given the same resources (the visual wire) to edit from, each choosing very different ways to tell a story. The following photographs are my choices of those images for the month of May (and a few from late April) illustrating daily life around the world. -- Paula Nelson (53 photos total)

Adam Ortiz, a fourth-grader at Fairview Elementary, stops traffic while classmates and parents cross Washington at North 11th Street in Klamath Falls, Ore. as part of Walk to School Days, something the school has participated in every Friday in May for three years, May 11. 2012. (Andrew Mariman/The Herald and News)
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May 16, 2012 Permalink

Ways of the wind

It's something often ignored unless it's annoying, harnessed for sport or energy, the cause of great damage, or sometimes used for fun. Wind is simply defined as "a natural movement of air of any velocity." Here is a collection of images showing its effects on us and nature. -- Lloyd Young(40 photos total)

A woman grips her umbrella against the wind in front of the Jubelpark - Cinquantenaire in Brussels as a storm moved over Belgium on Jan. 5. The Belgian Royal Meteorological Institute gave a code orange warning for the heavy storm weather that moved over Belgium this morning. (Benoit Doppagne/AFP/Getty Images)
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May 11, 2012 Permalink

Food and nutrition crisis in Sahel region of Africa

A potentially catastrophic food crisis in the Sahel region of West and Central Africa could affect as many as one million children. The food and nutrition crisis resulting from a severe drought, threatens the survival of an entire generation of children. Those children in eight countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal - are at risk of severe acute malnutrition. Sparse rainfall, poor harvests and rising food prices have left many vulnerable and weak, seeking medical attention. Sahel is one of the poorest regions in the world where children already face daunting odds of survival. The current crisis makes their survival even more tenuous. Associated Press photographer, Ben Curtis, documented the conditions in the region. -- Paula Nelson (EDITORS NOTE: We will not be posting Monday, May 14) (32 photos total)

A woman carries her child amidst dusty winds in the desert near Mondo, a village in the Sahel belt of Chad, April 19, 2012. UNICEF estimates that 127,000 children under the age of 5 in Chad's Sahel belt will require lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year, with an estimated 1 million expected throughout the wider Sahel region of West and Central Africa in the countries of Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Mauritania. (Ben Curtis/Associated Press)
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April 20, 2012 Permalink

Daily life: April 2012

The universality of our lives is never so evident as when we feature a collection of "slice of life" photographs from around the world on The Big Picture. If you don't immediately read the caption under the image, you might imagine the sunlit walk in the park or the child joyfully swinging in a number of places. Common experience is what brings us together as people. So, from St. Petersburg, Russia to Salem, Oregon, tour the world in images of everyday existence.-- Paula Nelson (38 photos total)

Pakistani boys, who make a living by collecting materials and selling them to a recycling factory, shower in a pool of water created by a broken water pipe on a roadside, after their daily work on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, April 17, 2012. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)
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April 16, 2012 Permalink

Earth Day 2012

April 22 will mark Earth Day worldwide, an event now in its 42nd year and observed in 175 countries. The original grass-roots environmental action helped spur the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in the United States. Gathered here are images of our planet's environment, efforts to utilize renewable alternative sources of energy, and the effects of different forms of pollution. -- Lane Turner and Leanne Burden Seidel (35 photos total)

A ladybug in flight spreads its wings as it flutters from grass blade to grass blade at Rooks Park in Walla Walla, Wash. on April 2, 2012. (Jeff Horner/Walla Walla Union-Bulletin/Associated Press)
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April 13, 2012 Permalink

Afghanistan: March 2012

In early April, in an attempt to accelerate the transition of military responsibility to the Afghan government, the US agreed to hand control of special operations missions to Afghan forces, including night raids, relegating American troops to a supporting role. This deal cleared the way for the two countries to move ahead with an agreement that would establish the shape of American support to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline. Domestic support for the war (in the US) has dropped sharply. We look back at March in the troubled country. -- Paula Nelson (37 photos total)

Young Afghan women use an umbrella to shield themselves from the sun in Kabul, April 5, 2012. The position of women in Afghanistan has improved dramatically since the fall of the Taliban, with the number of girls in education soaring. But as the Americans and the Afghan government have pursued peace efforts with the Taliban, women are increasingly concerned that gains in their rights may be compromised in a bid to end the costly and deadly war. (Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images)
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April 2, 2012 Permalink

Earth Hour 2012

A symbolic gesture to raise awareness about energy consumption, Earth Hour has grown since its beginning in 2007 in Sydney to now include observances in 147 countries and over 5000 cities. For one hour, lights are switched off at 8:30 local time on the last Saturday in March. Increasing public environmental awareness in China, which has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest polluter, has led 124 cities there to mark Earth Hour. Beginning with the second photograph, click the pictures to see them fade from lights on to the lights switched off during Earth Hour 2012. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Children light candles during a ceremony to mark Earth Hour in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 31, 2012. Earth Hour took place worldwide at 8.30 p.m. local times and as an annual global call to turn off lights for 60 minutes in a bid to highlight energy consumption. (Anjum Naveed/Associated Press)
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March 21, 2012 Permalink

Signs of Spring: 2012

Seemingly strange weather patterns continue to break high and low temperature records. The same patterns spawned an early tornado season in the midwestern United States and brought late season snowstorms to the west. Record snow falls and frigid temperatures characterized a particularly difficult winter across Europe with many deaths attributed to the conditions. Signs of Spring for the Northern Hemisphere (which began officially with the Vernal Equinox - March 20 - when the hours of day are approximately equal to the hours of night) like trees blossoming and flowers blooming, the shedding of winter coats and the desire of anyone -who has spent an all too long winter season indoors - to venture outside to soak up the sun. -- Paula Nelson (45 photos total)

Cherry blossoms of the Japanese Yoshino variety bloom along the Tidal Basin, March 19, 2012, in Washington, DC, with the Jefferson Memorial to the rear. This season celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the gift of the cherry trees from Japan to Washington, DC. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 19, 2012 Permalink

World Water Day 2012

World Water Day is observed on March 22 every year. The day to recognize the importance of earth's most precious natural resource was proposed 20 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. While we often take water for granted, many cannot. And water plays a role in almost everything we do. We drink it, wash in it, play in it, generate power with it, irrigate crops with it, travel and transport goods on it, fight fires with it, and worship with it. Gathered here are images of water from the last year in all its uses, in scarcity and in abundance. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)

A child bathes from a public tap in his neighborhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on March 6, 2012. A UNICEF report says unhygienic conditions cause an estimated 1. 2 million child deaths before the age of five from diarrhea worldwide every year. The report says in urban areas access to improved water and sanitation is not keeping pace with population growth. (Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press)
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March 9, 2012 Permalink

Japan's nuclear evacuees

Photographer Phyllis B. Dooney is documenting the plight of Japan's evacuees who fled the nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. She writes,"In Fukushima Prefecture, the third and most permanent disaster in the series followed; a nuclear meltdown occurred at Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Radiation poured into the atmosphere and environment. First it was a suggestion, but by mid-April the government was enforcing the mandate that the residents of Tomioka and Kawauchi, who hadn’t already left because of the earthquake and/or tsunami damage, leave indefinitely.  Nearly one year later an estimated 80,000 nuclear refugees are living in government-issued temporary housing or elsewhere. In the temporary housing, often just outside the evacuation zone, it is the elderly and mentally or physically disabled who comprise a large percentage of the residents." Collected here are images of those evacuees made by Dooney in August of last year and in the last few days. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Masayoshi Katakura stands on the steps of his temporary housing in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, August 16, 2011. Masayoshi, like many others, is frightened and displaced by the earthquake and tsunami but his destitution and hopelessness are a result of the nuclear disaster. (© Phyllis B. Dooney)
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March 5, 2012 Permalink

Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest: 50 Finalists

The Smithsonian magazine's 9th annual photo contest finalists have been chosen. The contest attracted over 14 thousand photographers from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Fifty finalists from 67,059 images were selected by Smithsonian editors. Those editors will also choose the Grand Prize Winner and the winners in each of the five categories which include The Natural World, Americana, People, Travel and Altered Images. Photos were selected based on technical quality, clarity and composition, a flair for the unexpected and the ability to capture a picture-perfect moment. (Smithsonian invites everyone to select an additional "Readers' Choice" winner by voting through March for their favorite image on line.) -- Paula Nelson (25 photos total)

BEHIND THE BLUE Lilongwe, Malawi, May 2011 (Paolo Patruno/Bologna, Italy)
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March 1, 2012 Permalink

Tornadoes Rip Through the Midwest and South

Weather predictions for possible tornadoes from a new storm system today threaten the Midwest and South, and have recent victims nervous about what the day might hold. The first powerful storm system tore through parts of the Midwest and South earlier this week, killing 13 people from Kansas to Kentucky, leaving pockets of devastation across several states and marking the acceleration of another deadly (and early) tornado season. Tornadoes and powerful winds tore off roofs, leveled homes and businesses, tossed mobile homes, downed power lines and injured more than 150 people. The damage was most significant in Harrisburg, a small town in southern Illinois where blocks of houses and businesses were reduced to rubble. -- Paula Nelson(25 photos total)

St. Joseph's Catholic Church in ruins, March 1, 2012, in Ridgway, Ill. A pre-dawn twister flattened entire blocks of homes as violent storms ravaged the Midwest and South. (Seth Perlman/Associated Press)
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February 27, 2012 Permalink

Gerd Ludwig's 'Long Shadow of Chernobyl' project

Internationally-renowned photojournalist Gerd Ludwig has spent years documenting the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In 1986, errors at the plant in Ukraine led to an explosion that ultimately caused over a quarter of a million people to permanently evacuate their homes to escape the radiation and radioactive fallout. Over the course of several trips to the site and the region for National Geographic Magazine in 1993, 2005, and 2011, Ludwig has amassed a documentary record of a people and a place irreparably altered by a tragic accident. His 2011 trip was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Now Ludwig has released an iPad app with over 150 photographs, video, and interactive panoramas. Gathered here is a small selection of the work Ludwig has produced over the years of the still-unfolding tragedy. -- Lane Turner (23 photos total)

On April 26, 1986, operators in this control room of reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant committed a fatal series of errors during a safety test, triggering a reactor meltdown that resulted in the world's largest nuclear accident to date. Today, the control room sits abandoned and deadly radioactive. Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, 2005 (Gerd Ludwig/INSTITUTE)
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February 24, 2012 Permalink

One billion slum dwellers

One billion people worldwide live in slums, a number that will likely double by 2030. The characteristics of slum life vary greatly between geographic regions, but they are generally inhabited by the very poor or socially disadvantaged. Slum buildings can be simple shacks or permanent and well-maintained structures but lack clean water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services. In this post, I've included images from several slums including Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, the second largest slum in Africa (and the third largest in the world); New Building slum in central Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Pinheirinho slum - where residents recently resisted police efforts to forcibly evict them; and slum dwellers from Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi, India. India has about 93 million slum dwellers and as much as 50% of New Delhi's population is thought to live in slums, 60% of Mumbai. -- Paula Nelson (55 photos total)

Cambodian lawmaker Mu Sochuo, from the opposition Sam Rainsy party, pleads with riot policemen to stop a forced eviction of villagers at a slum village in the centre of Phnom Penh, Jan. 4, 2012. Cambodian lawmakers from the opposition Sam Rainsy party visited the village after authorities forcefully evicted villagers from the Borei Keila community in the capital. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images)
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February 10, 2012 Permalink

2012 World Press Photo Contest Winners

By the numbers: 5, 247 Photographers, 124 Nationalities, 101, 254 pictures. Three hundred and fifty images by 57 photographers of 24 nationalities were awarded prizes in nine categories. To view the entire collection of winning images from the 55th World Press Photo Contest: 2012 World Press Photo. -- Paula Nelson (16 photos total)

2012 World Press Photo of the Year: A woman holds a wounded relative during protests against President Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen, Oct. 15, 2011. (Samuel Aranda/The New York Times)
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February 3, 2012 Permalink

Extreme cold weather hits Europe

Frigid temperatures have gripped Europe in the last week, with the mercury reaching as low as 35 degrees Celsius below zero. After what had been a relatively mild winter, the sudden cold caught many unprepared. Eastern Europe is hardest hit, with over 100 deaths in Ukraine, and with over 11,000 people in remote villages cut off by snow in Serbia. Most of the fatalities recorded have been homeless people found frozen to death outside, and emergency tents with hot meals have been set up to help them in several affected countries. Russia and Poland are mobilizing help for the homeless. Travel in Romania has been chaos as a blizzard hampered efforts to clear both rails and roads. Recorded temperatures in Italy were the lowest in 27 years. -- Lane Turner (45 photos total)

A woman looks out a bus in Bucharest on February 2, 2012. (Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press)
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January 30, 2012 Permalink

Coal

Coal occupies a central position in modern human endeavors. Last year over 7000 megatons were mined worldwide. Powerful, yet dirty and dangerous, use of coal is expanding every year, with 2010 witnessing a production increase of 6.8%. Around 70 countries have recoverable reserves, which some estimates claim will last for over a hundred years at current production levels. Mining for coal is one of the world's most dangerous jobs. While deadliest in China, where thousands of miners die annually, the profession is still hazardous in the West and other regions as well. Our mining and use of coal accounts for a variety of environmental hazards, including the production of more CO2 than any other source. Other concerns include acid rain, groundwater contamination, respiratory issues, and the waste products which contain heavy metals. But our lives as lived today rely heavily on the combustible sedimentary rock. Over 40% of the world's electricity is generated by burning coal, more than from any other source. Chances are that a significant percentage of the electricity you're using to read this blog was generated by burning coal. Gathered here are images of coal extraction, transportation, and the impact on environment and society. The first eight photographs are by Getty photographer Daniel Berehulak, who documented the lives of miners in Jaintia Hills, India. -- Lane Turner (48 photos total)

22-year-old Shyam Rai from Nepal makes his way through tunnels inside of a coal mine 300 ft beneath the surface on April 13, 2011 near the village of Latyrke, in the district of Jaintia Hills, India. In the Jaintia hills, located in India's far northeast state of Meghalaya, miners descend to great depths on slippery, rickety wooden ladders. Children and adults squeeze into rat hole like tunnels in thousands of privately owned and unregulated mines, extracting coal with their hands or primitive tools and no safety equipment. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)
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January 20, 2012 Permalink

Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival 2012

The annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival has been held since 1963, interrupted for a number of years during the Cultural Revolution until it was resumed in 1985. Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang province, in northeastern China. It is nicknamed "Ice City" and aptly so for winter January temperatures that average minus 18 degrees Celsius, under the influence of the cold winter wind from Siberia. The festival officially starts January 5th and lasts one month, although exhibits often stay open longer, weather permitting. Harbin is one of the world's four largest ice and snow festivals, along with Japan's Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada's Quebec City Winter Carnival and Norway's Ski Festival. -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)

Tourists visit ice sculptures during the testing period of the 13th Harbin Ice and Snow World in Harbin, Heilongjiang province. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival officially launched January 5, 2012. (Sheng Li/Reuters)
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December 23, 2011 Permalink

The Year in Pictures: Part III

In this post, featuring images from the last quarter of 2011, we remember a tumultuous year of change across the globe, the capture of Khadafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests. A memorable year, indeed. -- Paula Nelson -- Please see part 1 and part 2 from earlier. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We will not post a Big Picture on Monday, December 26, due to the Christmas Holiday ) (51 photos total)

A defaced portrait of fugitive Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Tripoli on Sept. 1, 2011 as the fallen strongman vowed again not to surrender in a message broadcast on the 42nd anniversary of the coup which brought him to power. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)
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December 21, 2011 Permalink

The year in Pictures: Part II

The second collection of images from 2011 once again brought us nature at its full force with floods, drought, wild fires, tornadoes and spectacular images of volcanic eruptions. The death of Osama bin Laden, the attack on an island in Norway by a lone gunman, continued fighting in Libya, and protests around the globe were a few of the news events dominating the headlines. -- Lloyd Young Please see part 1 from Monday and watch for part 3 Friday. (45 photos total)

A cloud of ash billowing from Puyehue volcano near Osorno in southern Chile, 870 km south of Santiago, on June 5. Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in half a century on June 4, 2011, prompting evacuations for 3,500 people as it sent a cloud of ash that reached Argentina. The National Service of Geology and Mining said the explosion that sparked the eruption also produced a column of gas 10 kilometers (six miles) high, hours after warning of strong seismic activity in the area. (Claudio Santana/AFP/Getty Images) )
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December 16, 2011 Permalink

50 best photos from The Natural World

We share our world with many other species and live in an ever-changing environment. Fortunately, photographers around the world have captured the moments and beauty that allow us to see amazing views of this awe-inspiring planet. This is a collection of favorite photos from The Natural World gallery in 2011, a showcase of images of animals and environment that runs on Boston.com throughout the year. Next week's posts will take a look at the year in photos, so stay tuned. -Leanne Burden Seidel (50 photos total)

Seahorses are displayed at an endangered species exhibition at London Zoo. ( Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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November 18, 2011 Permalink

National Geographic Photo Contest 2011

There's still time! The deadline for entries for this year's National Geographic Photo Contest is November 30. Photographers of all skill levels (last year more than 16,000 images submitted by photographers from 130 countries) enter photographs in three categories: Nature, People and Places. The photographs are judged on creativity and photographic quality by a panel of experts. There is one first place winner in each category and a grand prize winner as well. The following is a selection of 54 entries from each of the 3 categories. The caption information is provided and written by the individual photographer. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

LONE TREE YELLOWSTONE: A solitary tree surviving another harsh winter in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. (Photo and caption by Anita Erdmann/Nature/National Geographic Photo Contest)
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November 15, 2011 Permalink

Dangerous work: "The Mine" in Guatemala City

In Guatemala City, a place called "The Mine" can deliver both a means of survival and a grisly death. Every day, dozens of residents salvage a living by scouring the massive dump for scrap metal. Facing the threat of mudslides, collapses, and disease, they can potentially earn twice the daily minimum wage. Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd documented their efforts. -- Lloyd Young (EDITOR'S NOTE: Our apologies, but due to an illness on our staff, we were unable to post a Big Picture on Monday.) (25 photos total)

A man covers himself from the rain on a mound of garbage at the bottom of one of the biggest trash dumps in the city, known as "The Mine," in Guatemala City. Hundreds of informal workers descend daily into the mounds of the landfill and the rushing waters that come from a storm tunnel and a sewer at the bottom of a gorge to search for scrap metal to sell. This activity known locally as "mining" is extremely dangerous due to mud slides and collapses, but earns many of them about 150 quetzals ($20 dollars) a day, nearly twice the minimum daily wage. (Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press)
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November 11, 2011 Permalink

Feeding 7 billion and our fragile environment

According to projections by the United Nations, the world population has reached 7 billion and continues to grow rapidly.  While more people are living longer and healthier lives, gaps are widening between the rich and the poor in some nations and tens of millions of people are vulnerable to food and water shortages.  There is, of course, the issue of the impact of that sheer number on the environment, including pollution, waste disposal, use of natural resources and food production.  This post focuses on wheat and the effect of our numbers on the environment.  Wheat is the most important cereal in the world and along with rice and corn accounts for about 73 percent of all cereal production.  It isn't surprising that 7 billion people have a lasting impact on our world's natural resources and the environment in which we live. -- Paula Nelson (36 photos total)

One of the world's breadbaskets lies in the prairies of Canada. This stalk, near Lethbridge, Alberta, helps form the foundation for the most important food product in the world: cereal grains. (Todd Korol/Reuters)
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November 4, 2011 Permalink

World Population: Where it's thick and where it's thin

The growing population of the world, now estimated to be over 7 billion, marks a global milestone and presents obvious challenges for the planet.  There are extremely densely populated cities and sparsely populated countries.  China is the most populous country with India following closely behind. This post brings together some disparate illustrations of our world as it grows, including scenes from Mong Kok district in Hong Kong, which has the highest population density in the world, with 130,000 per one square kilometer. In Mongolia, the world's least densely populated country,  2.7 million people are spread across an area three times the size of France.  Then there's Out Skerries, a tiny outcropping of rocks off the east coast of Scotland where the population is just 65.  And doing what he can to contribute to that 7 billion global milestone is Ziona, the head of a religious sect called "Chana."  He has 39 wives, 94 children, and 33 grandchildren. The world is an interesting place. -- Paula Nelson  (41 photos total)

Motorists pack a junction during rush hour in Taipei in 2009. Taiwan's capital is notorious for its traffic jams, even though many motorists choose motorcycles and scooters over cars. United Nations analysts warn that population growth increases pollution, deforestation, and climate change. (Nicky Loh/Reuters)
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October 28, 2011 Permalink

World Population: 7 Billion

On October 31, 2011, the United Nations is expected to announce a projected world population figure of 7 billion. This global milestone presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the planet. While more people are living longer and healthier lives, says the U.N., gaps between rich and poor are widening and more people than ever are vulnerable to food insecurity and water shortages. Because censuses are infrequent and incomplete, no one knows the precise date that we will hit the 7 billion mark - the Census Bureau puts it somewhere next March. In the last 50 years, humanity has more than doubled. What could the next decade mean for our numbers and the planet? In this post, we focus on births, but we'll be back with population-related content including it's affect on the environment and our food supply. -- Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

A baby, minutes after he was born inside the pediatric unit at hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa, Oct. 21, 2011. According to Honduras' health authorities, about 220,000 babies are born in Honduras each year. The cost of having a baby delivered at the public hospital is $10. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)
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October 21, 2011 Permalink

Sukkot: A celebration

Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles, is a Biblical holiday celebrated in late September to late October. The holiday lasts seven days. The Sukkah is a walled structure covered with plant material - built for the celebration - and is intended to be a reminiscence of the type of dwelling in which the Israelites stayed during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the Sukkah and many sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog (four species). The four species include the lulav (a ripe green, closed frond from a date palm tree), the hadass (boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree), the aravah (branches with leaves from the willow tree) and the etrog (the fruit of a citron tree.) -- Paula Nelson (29 photos total)

An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish child walks over palm fronds to be used to build a Sukkah hut, in Jerusalem's religious Mea Shearim neighborhood, Oct. 6, 2011. The palm branches are used as the roof of a temporary house called a "Sukkah" which is built and lived in during the week-long Jewish holiday of Sukkot. (Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)
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October 14, 2011 Permalink

A simple day in the life...

Often in the Big Picture we feature "slice of life" photography originating from around the world, brought to us by photographers based in those countries who work for the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty Images. The photographs are often simple and show daily life in many places that we might not be able to experience in any other way except through those photographers' documentation. The images themselves are somewhat universal - they show us where people live and how people live, sometimes not so differently than we do ourselves. -- Paula Nelson (35 photos total)

Three-year-old Nadia Nassrallah eats her breakfast in from of her home in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Oct. 4, 2011. (Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press)
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September 30, 2011 Permalink

Global protests

There are many forms of protest, many ways to express an objection to particular events, situations, policies, and even people.  Protests can also take many forms - from individual statements to mass demonstrations - both peaceful and violent. In the last 30 days, there have been numerous protests across the globe in many countries.  The following post is a collection of only some of those protests, but the images convey a gamut of emotions as citizens stand up for their political, economic, religious and lifestyle rights.  -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

As protesters sleep in Zuccotti Park, N.Y. police officers receive instructions. A group of activists calling themselves Occupy Wall Street targeted the Financial District for more than a week of demonstrations in late September. The group said they sought to bring attention to corporate malfeasance, social inequality, and the yawning gap in income between America's rich and poor. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
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September 28, 2011 Permalink

Too much of a basic human need

Water is essential to life but in such places as India, Pakistan, China, and Thailand deluges have once again caused misery. Typhoon Nesat hit the Philippines earlier this week on its way to south China. In Pakistan, more than 5 million people have been affected by recent flooding, according to the aid agency Oxfam. Pakistan is still struggling to recover from the devastating monsoon rains in 2010. -- Lloyd Young(36 photos total)

A village boy sits on the banks of the swelling Daya River, near Pipli village, about 25 kilometers from the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneshwar Sept. 9. The flood situation in Orissa state worsened with the release of more water downstream from Hirakud dam, according to a news agency. A high alert has been sounded in 11 districts of the state. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)
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September 26, 2011 Permalink

China: Daily Life Sept. 2011

This Big Picture post gives us a glimpse of daily life in parts of China, documented by wire photographers from the Associated Press, Reuters and Getty. The post begins with a short essay by Reuters photographer Jason Lee. Lee photographed six-year-old Wang Gengxiang, known as the "Masked Boy." Gengxiang was severely burned in an accident involving a burning pile of straw last winter. Most of the skin on the little boy's head was burned off, requiring him to wear a full surgical mask. The mask is said to prevent his scars from becoming infected. According to the local media in the village where Gengxiang was photographed, the doctors cannot continue his skin-graft surgery until his damaged trachea (or windpipe) is strong enough. The Lee essay is following by a black slide, and then more "slice of life" photography from a still somewhat mysterious China. -- Paula Nelson (50 photos total)

Wang Gengxiang on Children's Day, June 1, 2010, and after he was severely burned in an accident, at Mijiazhuang village on the outskirts of Fenyang, North China's Shanxi province, September 9, 2011. Gengxiang, age 6, known as "Masked Boy", was severely burned in an accident involving a burning pile of straw last winter. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
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September 23, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, September 2011

Tribal elders say the Taliban are far from defeated.  The Taliban continue to wage a brutal war, taking a toll on Afghan citizens and American forces.  The Department of Defense has identified 1,761 American service members who have died in the Afghan war and related operations as of Sept. 21, about 10 years since the start of the war. In visiting Afghanistan monthly in The Big Picture, we try to reflect our troops presence in the country as well as their interaction with the Afghan people.  -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

US soldiers from the 27th Infantry Regiment fire 120-mm mortar rounds toward insurgent positions at Outpost Monti in Kunar province on Sept. 17. After a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, 130,000 troops from dozens of countries continue to battle resilient Taliban, who use homemade bombs and guerrilla tactics in a bid to undermine the Afghan government and the NATO mission. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 16, 2011 Permalink

A glimpse of North Korea

North Korea has long been enigmatic - especially to the West.  An elaborate cult of personality created around the ruling Kim family permeates both the cultural and political lives of the nation. The world's most militarized nation, it has been developing nuclear weapons and a space program.  In 2002, President George Bush labeled North Korea part of an "axis of evil," primarily due to its aggressive military posture but also because of its abysmal human rights record.   North Korea has long maintained close relations with the People's Republic of China and Russia.  In an attempt to ameliorate the loss of investments due to international sanctions over its weapons program, North Korean officials have initiated a tourism push, focused on Chinese visitors.  Still, every travel group or individual visitor is constantly accompanied by one or two "guides" who normally speak the mother language of the tourist.  While some tourism has increased over the last few years, Western visitors remain scarce.  The last several photos in this post are by Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder, who offers rare glimpses of life in the shuttered country. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)

Rolling out the red carpet for tourists is not commonly associated with the reclusive North Korean government, but that is what workers did for the departure ceremony of Mangyongbyong cruise ship in Rason City on Aug. 30. About 130 passengers departed the rundown port of Rajin, near the China-Russia border, for the scenic Mount Kumgang resort near South Korea. North Korea's state tourism bureau has teamed up with a Chinese travel company to run the country's first ever cruise. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
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September 12, 2011 Permalink

Ground Zero: September 11, 2001 - September 11, 2011

One of the most indelible memories in the collective psyche of Americans - and the world - comes from the images of the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks on the United States, September 11, 2001. Yesterday, Americans and the world collectively remembered those who lost their lives in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania ten years after that unforgettable day. This post (edited by Leanne Burden) shows the transformation, of what became known as Ground Zero, over the last ten years. A memorial rises from the ashes of that day on September 11, 2011. -- Paula Nelson (41 photos total)

Photos by Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite showing the World Trade Center complex in Manhattan, New York, collected on June 30, 2001 showing the 110-stories twin towers; on September 15, 2001 showing the remains of the 1,350-foot (411.48-meter) twin towers of the World Trade Center, and the debris and dust that have settled in Ground Zero, four days after the terrorist attacks; and June 8, 2002, showing the progress in the reclamation of Ground Zero where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood. AFP/Space Imaging
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September 9, 2011 Permalink

Texas drought and wildfires

Wildfires have blazed across Texas for several days, but the drought conditions that fed the flames have been building for many months. The ten-month period through July was the driest in Texas state history. Entire lakes have dried up. Since last November, almost 1,500 homes have burned in nearly 21,000 fires across the state. Two deaths so far have been attributed to the fires, which have forced the evacuations of thousands of residents. The Texas drought and wildfires come on the heels of the Arizona wildfire, the largest in that state's history. -- Lane Turner (45 photos total)

Two firefighters break from battling a wildfire off Foster School Road near Needville, Texas on September 7, 2011. (Patric Schneider/The Courier/AP)
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August 19, 2011 Permalink

Afghanistan, August 2011

Each month in the Big Picture, we post a collection of photographs from Afghanistan.  They feature American forces and those of other countries, and they show us daily life among the Afghan people.  In June, President Obama declared that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, which set in motion an aggressive timetable for the withdrawal of American troops. However, the fighting has spiked in some regions of the country. On Aug. 6, the United States suffered its deadliest day in the nearly decade-long war when insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans and eight Afghans.  According to the United Nations, 360 Afghan civilians were killed in June alone.  The surges of violence reflect how deeply entrenched the insurgency remains even far from its strongholds. The war continues.  -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)

Villager Juma Khan meets with the provincial district governor and fellow villagers at a shura, or consultation, on July 23 at the US Marine Patrol Base Salaam Bazaar in Helmand province, Afghanistan. As mentors with the international coalition attempt to phase out their involvement and put Afghan institutions in the lead, the Taliban continue to gain strength in many of Helmand's northern communities, where legitimate Afghan governance is more of a plan than a reality. (David Goldman/Associated Press)
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August 12, 2011 Permalink

Dadaab refugee camp

Brendan Bannon is a photojournalist on assignment for Polaris Images: "I first went to the Dadaab refugee camp, close to the border between Kenya and Somalia, at the end of 2006. Strangely enough, the camp was flooded then. The same parched ground recorded in my photographs was covered by 3 feet of water. Then, people were fleeing from the camp, not fleeing to the camp as they are today. Dadaab has become the largest refugee camp in the world, and Kenya’s fourth largest city: 440,000 people have gathered in makeshift shelters, made of branches and tarps. Experiencing Dadaab again last week was profoundly humbling. I was confronted with deep suffering and need. Slowing down and talking to people, I heard stories of indomitable courage and determination and of making horrible choices. Most of these people have survived 20 years of war in Somalia, two years of drought, and it’s only now that they are fleeing their homeland. They are accomplished survivors. One morning, I was talking to a family of ten. I poured a full glass of water from a pitcher and passed it to a child. He took a sip, and passed it on to his brother and so on. The last one returned it to me with enough left for the last gulp. Even in the camp, they take only what they need to survive and share the rest. What you see on the surface looks like extreme fragility, but it’s actually tremendous resilience and the extraordinary affirmation of their will to live." This post features a collection of Brendan's recent images from Dadaab refugee camp. They tell their own story. -- Paula Nelson (34 photos total)

A young Somali refugee boy and his terminally ill mother, Haretha Abdi at Dadaab refugee camp, near the border of Kenya and Somalia in the horn of Africa. (Brendan Bannon/Polaris Images)
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August 1, 2011 Permalink

South Korean deluge

After a month of heavy rain saturated mountainsides, a fresh deluge sent landslides sweeping into Seoul last week, killing 59 people. Ten were still reported missing. In a strange compounding of the misery, the landslides and flash flooding washed away landmines buried near an air defense unit in Seoul. Soldiers were searching for those landmines as well as North Korean landmines washed away near the border. A total of 76 landslides of different severity struck after the most intense rainstorm in Korea in the last century. Ten university students lost their lives while volunteering at a summer camp for kids when a landslide struck in Chuncheon. "If it keeps raining like this, no country in the world can endure this," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said. -- Lane Turner (25 photos total)

Soldiers remove mud from a landslide-damaged apartment building in Seoul July 28, 2011. (Truth Leem/Reuters)
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July 29, 2011 Permalink

Horn of Africa: on the brink of a humanitarian crisis

One of the worst droughts in a century, compounded by high food prices and unremitting political strife, is spawning an immense humanitarian crisis on the Horn of Africa. Thousands of Somalis are fleeing their homeland each week; most of those who survive the brutal journey end up in refugee camps in neighboring Kenya. Aid agencies are calling it the worst drought in 60 years. Although centered on Somalia, which lacks a functioning government and suffers from constant battles with Islamic rebels, the crisis has also affected people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Reports suggest parts of Somalia may already be on the verge of famine, a repeat of the emergency situation two decades ago. Resources are woefully inadequate. "Desperate hunger is looming across the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of millions who are struggling to survive in the face of rising food prices and conflict," World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran said in a release. – Paula Nelson (47 photos total)

With a population of 370,000, Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp. With drought conditions in the Horn of Africa combined with poor food distribution. The Kenyan camp is expected to house 450,000 refugees by the end of the year, according to Doctors Without Borders. The camp was built to accommodate 90,000. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)
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July 1, 2011 Permalink

Wildfire threatens nuclear facility

The Las Conchas wildfire in New Mexico spread dangerously close to the Los Alamos National Laboratory this week, causing the evacuation of the town and the shutdown of the lab, which is the headquarters for US military research. The laboratory was created during World War II to develop the first atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project and houses highly sensitive materials. As a precaution, scientists are monitoring radioactivity in the air. The fire is the largest wildfire in the state's history, covering more than 100,000 acres.(Editor's Note: We will not post on Monday, July 4th, we'll see you again on Wednesday, July 6, 2011.) -Leanne Burden Seidel (34 photos total)

A vicious wildfire burns near the Los Alamos Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., on June 28, 2011. The Las Conchas fire spread through the mountains above the northern New Mexico town, driving thousands of people from their homes as officials at the government nuclear laboratory tried to dispel concerns about the safety of sensitive materials. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)
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June 20, 2011 Permalink

Is weather becoming more extreme?

Extreme weather events have always been with us, and always will be. One can't point to a single severe storm, or even an entire harsh winter, as evidence of climate change. But a trend of weather intensity, and oddity, grows. Droughts linger longer. Hurricanes hit harder. Snowstorms strike long after winter should have ended. World record hailstones fall. China endures a crippling drought, and then punishing floods. Millions are displaced in a flood of historic proportion in Pakistan. The U.S. sees the Mississippi River reach historic flood crests, and then sees the largest wildfire in Arizona history. None of these events on their own mean anything. Collectively, do they mean we're seeing the earth's climate change before our eyes? -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)

A huge swath of the United States is affected by a winter storm that brought layers of dangerous ice and blowing snow, closing roads and airports from Texas to Rhode Island in this February 1 satellite image. The storm's more than 2,000-mile reach threatened to leave about a third of the nation covered in harsh weather. Ice fell first and was expected to be followed by up to two feet of snow in some places. (NOAA/AP)
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June 9, 2011 Permalink

Arizona wildfire rages on

A vast wildfire, measuring half the size of the state of Rhode Island and described as the second worst fire in Arizona history, continues to surge across eastern Arizona. The fire has jumped past firefighter's containment lines to reach the edges of residential areas, prompting more evacuation orders. Winds carrying burning embers continue to ignite smaller fires, causing new concerns about the prospect of extinguishing the 13-day-old fire. The Wallow Fire has destroyed approximately 337,000 acres and threatens main electrical lines that supply power as far away as west Texas. Thousands have evacuated. Paula Nelson (35 photos total)

Smoke from the Wallow Fire covers highway 60 in Springerville, Arizona. Several mountain communities have emptied in advance of the fire, and a utility that supplies power to customers in southern New Mexico and west Texas issued warnings of possible power interruptions due to the fire's spread, June 9, 2011. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)
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May 24, 2011 Permalink

Another Icelandic eruption: Grimsvotn volcano

Barely a year after a similar eruption in Iceland forced the biggest closure of European airspace since World War II, the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland on May 21, 2011 has caused hundreds of travel delays. The ash cloud forced U.S. President Barack Obama to shorten a visit to Ireland and has raised some fears of a repeat of last year's huge travel disruptions across Europe when emissions from Eyjafjalljokull stranded millions of passengers. Although this disruption is said to be stronger than that of Eyiafjalljokull, it is not expected to have the same impact. Take a look back at two Big Picture posts from the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption: Iceland's disruptive volcano and More from Eyiafjallajokull. -- Paula Nelson (24 photos total)

A plane flies past a smoke plume resulting from the eruption of the Grimsvotn volcano, under the Vatnajokull glacier in southeast Iceland, May 21, 2011. Airlines began canceling flights to Britain because of the ash cloud from the volcano reaching its airspace, although experts expected no repeat of travel chaos from the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull a year ago. (Olafur Sigurjonsson/Reuters)
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May 9, 2011 Permalink

Mississippi River flooding

The Mississippi River and tributaries continue to rise, reaching record crests, and the worst may still be to come. Portions of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas are under water, with more to come. Pressure on levees led the Army Corps of Engineers to blow up a section below Cairo, Ill, inundating 130,000 acres of farmland while saving the town. As a bulge of river water makes its way downstream, levees are stressed and rivers that empty into the Mississippi have no outlet, backing up and flooding even more land. The bulge will reach the Delta later this month, and millions of acres are threatened. -- Lane Turner (33 photos total)

Floodwaters from the Mississippi River on May 3 swamp the area north of New Madrid, Mo. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
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April 25, 2011 Permalink

Chernobyl disaster 25th anniversary

On April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power facility in what is now Ukraine exploded. The largest civil nuclear disaster in history led to mass evacuations, and long-term health, agricultural, and economic distress. The nearby city of Pripyat has been abandoned, and a 19-mile radius "exclusion zone" established where radiation contamination makes continued habitation dangerous. Collected here are archival pictures of the catastrophe, as well as more recent images of the area. In addition, two photographers who've made extensive studies of the aftermath have been gracious enough to share their work with us here. Diana Markosian documented the lives of pensioners Lida and Mikhail Masanovitz, who continue to live in the abandoned ghost town of Redkovka, Ukraine. Her work is found here in photographs 13 through 16. Michael Forster Rothbart has produced one of the most extensive records available of life near Chernobyl. His work is found here in photographs 23 through 29. Links to the websites of both photographers can be found below. -- Lane Turner (34 photos total)

Graffiti adorns a wall April 4 in the ghost city of Pripyat near the fourth nuclear reactor (background) at the former Chernobyl Nuclear power plant, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)
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April 22, 2011 Permalink

Gulf oil spill one year later

What is the cost of spilling almost five million barrels of oil into the ocean? How do you measure that cost? In GDP reduction? In lives affected? In environmental impact? And how do you measure the cost when long-term effects are impossible to calculate yet, and when a significant portion of the spilled oil is still unaccounted for? One year since the Deepwater Horizon platform exploded, killing 11 workers, there are measurable effects, and many more unknowns. Collected here are pictures of the disaster, recent images of people affected by the spill, and views of the cleanup. Pictures #4 through #10 show areas of shoreline both immediately after the spill and the same area a year later. Click on the picture to see it change from the 2010 view to the present. [See also: The Big Picture: Oil reaches Louisiana shores, May 24, 2010] This effect requires javascript to be enabled. -- Lane Turner (36 photos total)

An oil tar ball washes up on Fourchon Beach in Port Fourchon, La. April 13. Tar balls and oil are still in abundance on the Louisiana coast a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. (Dave Martin/AP)
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April 13, 2011 Permalink

Japan's crisis: one month later

Japan is just in the beginning of the long term recovery effort from the earthquake that struck off northeastern Japan on March 11. The crisis alert level from the damage to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant has now been raised to the highest level of impact, the same as the Chernobyl Russia incident 25 years ago. Searchers continue to look for the dead, displaced Japanese live in shelters, protests continue over use of nuclear power, Japan's economic engine may be disrupted, the massive cleanup of debris is just underway, aftershocks are feared and many continue to mourn those who were lost. The photos collected here are from one month to the day of the quake and beyond. -- Lloyd Young (36 photos total)

Buddhist monks, Japan Self-Defense Force personnel, firefighters, and other relief workers observed a moment of silence on "Hiyori Yama," or Weather Hill, in Natori, Miyagi prefecture, on April 11, 2011, exactly one month after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan. Local fishermen used to climb the manmade hump and decide whether it was safe to fish. (Koichi Nakamura,Yomiuri Shimbun/Associated Press)
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April 11, 2011 Permalink

China: daily life

Each day, wire service photographers from around the world file photos to their member papers that fall under the category of "daily life." On February 8, 2011, I posted a Big Picture that featured some photography from Pakistan under that heading. The images document what we call in newspaper terminology, "slice of life" photography. They are ordinary, random moments captured around a city or in the countryside and they give us just a glimpse of something in that particular place that we might not ordinarily be able to experience. The images in this post are by photographers from the Associated Press based in China. Again, they contain very little caption information and are intended to provide a small window into another culture perhaps far from our own yet reflecting elements of universality. (Note: These images were collected over the first three months of 2011.) -- Paula Nelson. (34 photos total)

A visitor peeks inside a scenery board used to fence off a construction site at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. (April 1, 2011) (Andy Wong/Associated Press)
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April 6, 2011 Permalink

Flower power

The spring equinox was March 20 this year, determined by the changing sunlight and how the earth is tilted and orbits the sun. But we don't need to look to the skies to know the seasons are turning. All we have to do is glance more earthbound to find flashes of color and bursts of life. Flowers are appearing in all kinds of places since the equinox. -- Lloyd Young (27 photos total)

A daisy floats in a rain barrel on April 4 in Kaufbeuren, southern Germany. (Karl Josef Hildenbrand/AFP/Getty Images)
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March 25, 2011 Permalink

Dog Sledding season - coming to a close

The well-known Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, held in Alaska, welcomed its first native Alaskan champion since 1976. Begun in 1973, the grueling race - through blizzards, whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures, gale-force winds - covers 1,150 miles in nine to fifteen days from Willow to Nome, Alaska. There are many other sled dog races in locations around the world, including races in Norway, British Columbia, Slovakia, Spain, Czech Republic, Minsk, and through the Alps of France and Switzerland. The following images are a collection from those races. -- Paula Nelson (42 photos total)

A dog rests during the 1000 km (621 miles) long Finnmarkslopet, the world's northernmost sled dog race, in Finnmark county, northern Norway, March 14, 2011. (Tore Meek/Scanpix/Reuters)
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March 15, 2011 Permalink

Japan: New fears as the tragedy deepens

Continued aftershocks and new earthquakes bring new fears to the survivors of the tragedy. Residents prepare for radiation leaks as the Prime Minister asks everyone to remain indoors - in their homes, their offices and shelters. Ninety one countries have offered help to Japan. Search and rescue and recovery continue in the devastated landscape. The death toll rises, but some hope is realized in the reunions of family and friends. -- Paula Nelson (52 photos total)

Evacuees are screened for radiation contamination at a testing center, March 15, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan. (Wally Santana/Associated Press)
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March 14, 2011 Permalink

Japan: Vast devastation

The vast devastation wrought by the earthquake and resulting tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, may only be matched by the destroyed lives left in their wake. Few survivors have been found, but families continue to search for their sons, daughters, wives, husbands and friends. Threats of a nuclear reactor meltdown and resulting disaster loom. -- Paula Nelson (51 photos total)

The rubble caused by an earthquake and tsunami fill the landscape in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, Monday, March 14, 2011, three days after northeastern coastal towns were devastated by an earthquake and tsunami. (Associated Press/Kyodo News)
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March 12, 2011 Permalink

Japan: earthquake aftermath

Japan raced to avert a nuclear meltdown today by flooding a nuclear reactor with seawater after Friday's massive earthquake left more than 600 people dead and thousands more missing. Towns in the country's northeast coast were literally wiped away by an ensuing tsunami, leaving countless people seeking shelter in the aftermath of the quake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale and was the country's strongest recorded quake. -- Lloyd Young 44 photos total)

A resident is rescued from debris in Natori, Miyagi, northern Japan March 12 after one of the country's strongest earthquakes ever recorded hit its eastern coast March 11. (Asahi Shimbun, Noboru Tomura/Associated Press)
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February 28, 2011 Permalink

Nyiragongo Crater: Journey to the Center of the World

In June 2010, a team of scientists and intrepid explorers stepped onto the shore of the lava lake boiling in the depths of Nyiragongo Crater, in the heart of the Great Lakes region of Africa. The team had dreamed of this: walking on the shores of the world's largest lava lake. Members of the team had been dazzled since childhood by the images of the 1960 documentary "The Devil's Blast" by Haroun Tazieff, who was the first to reveal to the public the glowing red breakers crashing at the bottom of Nyiragongo crater. Photographer Olivier Grunewald was within a meter of the lake itself, giving us a unique glimpse of its molten matter. (The Big Picture featured Olivier Grunewald's arresting images of sulfur mining in Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia, in a December 2010 post.) -- Paula Nelson (28 photos total)

The view from the volcano’s rim, 11,380 feet above the ground. At 1,300 feet deep, the lava lake has created one of the wonders of the African continent.
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February 11, 2011 Permalink

World Press Photo: winners

On the morning of February 11, 2011, the international jury of the 54th World Press Photo Contest named a photo by South African photographer Jodi Bieber, World Press Photo of the Year 2010. The image is a portrait of Bibi Aisha, disfigured as punishment for fleeing her husband's house, taken in Kabul, Afghanistan. Over 5,691 photographers entered 108,059 images in the 2011 World Press Photo Contest and after the two-week judging period, 56 were named winners in nine categories. It is a prestigious contest and an honor to be named a winner. The following post shares 23 of those winning images. For more on the contest, including a time-lapse video of the jury room being set up, to hear the jury chairs discuss the images that were named winners, and to learn more about the competition, World Press Photo -- Paula Nelson (23 photos total)

Bibi Aisha, an 18-year-old woman from Oruzgan province in Afghanistan, fled back to her family home from her husband's house, complaining of violent treatment. The Taliban arrived one night, demanding Bibi be handed over to face justice. After a Taliban commander pronounced his verdict, Bibi's brother-in-law held her down and her husband sliced off her ears and then cut off her nose. Bibi was abandoned, but later rescued by aid workers and the U.S. military. After time in a women's refuge in Kabul, she was taken to America, where she received counseling and reconstructive surgery. Bibi Aisha now lives in the United States. World Press Photo of the Year 2010, Jodi Bieber, South Africa, Institute for Artist Management/Goodman Gallery for Time magazine.
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December 22, 2010 Permalink

A chilly solstice (and lunar eclipse)

Yesterday, December 21st, was the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the start of winter. Also, for the first time since 1638, a total lunar eclipse took place on the same day as the solstice, observable by people across the Americas and parts of Asia. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon travels briefly through the shadow of the Earth, and appears to dim and become a dark reddish color. The coloration is due to sunlight filtering through the Earth's atmosphere - the same conditions that create red sunsets - so an observer standing on the Moon during a lunar eclipse would look up and see the dark Earth surrounded by a red ring, a sunset around the globe. Collected here are images of the eclipse, the solstice, and some of the icy weather as winter officially begins. [Editor's note: An invitation is now open for you to submit your own Christmas 2010 photos for an upcoming entry in January. Next regular posting on 12/27.] (25 photos total)

Three snowshoe hikers watch the almost full moon rising behind the Weissfluhjoch mountain in Arosa, Switzerland, on Monday, Dec. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Keystone, Alessandro Della Bella)
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December 8, 2010 Permalink

Kawah Ijen by night

Photographer Olivier Grunewald has recently made several trips into the sulfur mine in the crater of the Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia, bringing with him equipment to capture surreal images lit by moonlight, torches, and the blue flames of burning molten sulfur. Covered last year in the Big Picture (in daylight), the miners of the 2,600 meter tall (8,660ft) Kawah Ijen volcano trek up to the crater, then down to the shore of a 200-meter-deep crater lake of sulfuric acid, where they retrieve heavy chunks of pure sulfur to carry back to a weighing station. Mr. Grunewald has been kind enough to share with us the following other-worldly photos of these men as they do their hazardous work under the light of the moon. (30 photos total)

A sulfur miner stands inside the crater of the Kawah Ijen volcano at night, holding a torch, looking towards a flow of liquid sulfur which has caught fire and burns with an eerie blue flame. (© Olivier Grunewald)
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December 3, 2010 Permalink

Let it snow! Great snow photos

Winter is arriving in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing chilly winds and heavy snowfall to many regions. In late November, Seattle and Vancouver experienced an early snowstorm, parts of New York State are still digging out of a recent storm, and many parts of Europe are now enduring a deadly cold snap, with temperatures in Poland falling as low as -33C (-27F). People all over are donning their heavy coats and gloves and heading outside to either battle the elements, or find ways to play. Collected here are recent photos from northern areas where winter weather has made an impact, and some of the ways the people and animals are dealing with the changing seasons. (37 photos total)

Harrison Harper, 10, makes good use of the overnight snowfall and a hill behind his house in Boise, Idaho on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Idaho Statesman, Katherine Jones)
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November 5, 2010 Permalink

Great Migrations

Move as millions, survive as one. That is the subtitle to the new seven-part television series from National Geographic called "Great Migrations". Animals great and small are on the move around the world, chasing resources in dangerous journeys that might take mere hours or span generations. To capture the images and video for the series, they spent two and a half years in the field, traveling 420,000 miles across 20 countries and all seven continents. The fine folks at National Geographic have been kind enough to share with us some images from "Great Migrations: Official Companion Book" below. Great Migrations premieres in the U.S. on Sunday, November 7 on the National Geographic Channel. (29 photos total)

Going to sea on the Antarctic Peninsula, Gentoo penguins line up and quickly dive in together. (© National Geographic/Paul Nicklen)
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September 30, 2010 Permalink

Human landscapes in SW Florida

A couple weeks ago, I was listening to a story by NPR's Planet Money team about "Toxie" a toxic asset they had purchased to follow and help tell the story of the recent financial meltdown. One of the mortgages in Toxie was on a home bought for investment in Bradenton, Florida, and the team took a look at housing in the area. Many homes there are empty and have been for years. Huge developments sit partially completed among densely built up neighborhoods and swampland. A guest stated that there were "enough housing lots in Charlotte County to last for more than 100 years". Boom and bust residential development has drastically affected parts of southwest Florida for decades now, and I spent some time (with the help of Google Earth), looking around the area. With permission from the fine folks at Google, here are a few glimpses at development in southwest Florida. (26 photos total)

A section of a partially built residential project with only two houses in place, near Fort Myers, Florida. Map. (© Google)
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September 27, 2010 Permalink

Fall is in the air

Autumn is here (for those of us in the northern hemisphere). This year, the full moon and the autumnal equinox happened on the same day, for the first time in 19 years. Evenings now come sooner and the air cools more quickly, leaves are beginning to change, crops are being harvested, harvest festivals are being held, and animals and nomads are on the move to their winter grounds. Collected here are a handful of recent images of early autumn around the northern half of our world. (35 photos total)

A maple tree shows its fall colors on Friday, September 17th, 2010, in Woodstock, Maine. A vast network of county foresters, volunteers and others contribute their observations to state tourism officials, who in turn work up "foliage forecasts" published online and elsewhere to let leaf-peepers know where to find the best fall foliage. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
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September 22, 2010 Permalink

Animals in the news

Today we have a recent roundup of animals making the news - from the study of newly identified species to genetic modification, to racing, hunting, play, rescue and preservation. From a minuscule frog to an albino whale, fluorescent fish to a deep-sea Chimera, collected here are a handful of recent photographs of animals and our interactions with them, as companions, caretakers, observers, hunters and stewards. (57 photos total)

A dragonfish with teeth on both jaws and tongue is pictured in this image provided by the Census for Marine Life. even has teeth on its tongue. Though terrifying in appearance, the fish are only about the size of a banana. (AP Photo/Dr. Julian Finn, Museum Victoria, Census for Marine Life)
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August 18, 2010 Permalink

Now that the oil well is capped...

Between April 20 and July 15, 2010, a generally accepted estimate of nearly 5 million barrels (200 million gallons) of crude oil emerged from the wellhead drilled into the seafloor by BP from the now-destroyed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Now that the flow of oil has been stopped, the impact of all the spilled oil and natural gas is still being measured. The current moratorium on deep water remains in place as reports from varying scientific groups are at odds about the extent of the remaining oil, and some fishing restrictions have already been lifted. As BP finalizes its work in killing the well, here is a collection of photos from around the Gulf of Mexico over the past couple of months, as all of those affected enter the next phase of this event. (42 photos total)

Waves partially obscure the Development Driller II at left, and the Development Driller III, which are drilling the relief wells, at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill site in the Gulf of Mexico off the Louisiana coast on Thursday, July 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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July 28, 2010 Permalink

Cleaning Dalian harbor

The oil spill resulting from a pipeline explosion in the port city of Dalian on July 16th [see previous entry] is being cleaned up by a small army of fisherman, locals, and government workers manning over 250 oil-skimming vessels and 8,000 fishing boats - much of the work being done by hand. The spill, now contained according to authorities, grew to 430 square kilometers (165 sq mi), but was prevented from fouling international waters. The explosion was due to improper desulfurizer injections into the pipeline, according to a report by Xinhua, China's state news agency. As workers continue their efforts and watchdog groups like Greenpeace level criticism for what they call an inadequate response to date, Dalian Port has already resumed operations at two of its oil berths, the company said on Sunday. (38 photos total)

A worker cleans up oil at the oil spill site in the port near Dalian, China on July 23, 2010. Fuel exports remain temporarily halted, industry officials said amid continuing efforts to clean up an oil spill at the country's major port of Dalian. (REUTERS/Stringer)
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July 23, 2010 Permalink

Stormy skies

In the past several months, powerful storms have wreaked havoc in many places, torrential rains in central Europe and parts of China, tornadoes in Australia, Montana and the American Midwest, and strong thunderstorms across the northeast. Now, as Tropical Storm Bonnie makes landfall in Florida and heads into the Gulf of Mexico, oil cleanup is being suspended, and the final "kill" operation is delayed for at least one more week. These storms have been destructive and deadly, but beautiful and awe-inspiring at the same time. Collected here are a handful of photographs of stormy skies, lightning strikes and storm damage from the past several months. (37 photos total)

A large storm cell moves over farmland between the towns of Ross and Stanley, North Dakota on Monday July 12, 2010. A tornado was reported to have touched down for a few minutes from the cell. (AP Photo/ The Forum, Dave Samson)
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July 7, 2010 Permalink

Summer is here

With the summer solstice now two weeks gone, the northern hemisphere is heating up. High temperatures in some places have made working difficult and have taxed power grids as usage of electricity neared record levels in the U.S. This past weekend, the United States celebrated its 234th birthday on July 4th, with fireworks, parades and many other outdoor activities. Collected here today are a handful of recent photographs of people (and animals) either trying to beat the heat, or just enjoying a sunny summer's day. (40 photos total)

A girl runs through water spraying from an open fire hydrant to keep cool in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York Monday July 5, 2010. Temperatures soared toward 100 degrees or more Tuesday along much of the East Coast after an extended Fourth of July weekend when temperatures inched into at least the 90s from Maine to Texas (Reuters/Eric Thayer)
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May 12, 2010 Permalink

Disaster unfolds slowly in the Gulf of Mexico

In the three weeks since the April 20th explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, and the start of the subsequent massive (and ongoing) oil leak, many attempts have been made to contain and control the scale of the environmental disaster. Oil dispersants are being sprayed, containment booms erected, protective barriers built, controlled burns undertaken, and devices are being lowered to the sea floor to try and cap the leaks, with little success to date. While tracking the volume of the continued flow of oil is difficult, an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil (possibly much more) continues to pour into the gulf every day. While visible damage to shorelines has been minimal to date as the oil has spread slowly, the scene remains, in the words of President Obama, a "potentially unprecedented environmental disaster." (40 photos total)

Seawater covered with thick black oil splashes up in brown-stained whitecaps off the side of the supply vessel Joe Griffin at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill containment efforts in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana Sunday, May 9, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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May 10, 2010 Permalink

Animals in the news

With the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico still unfolding, concerns over threats to wildlife have brought animals into the news quite a bit lately. From the oil spill, to preservation efforts, to zoo developments, pampered pets, harsh environments, invasive fish, a surfing alpaca and more, collected here are a handful of recent photographs of animals and our interactions with them, as companions, caretakers, observers, and stewards. (40 photos total)

A bear cools down in the water at the zoo in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany, Thursday, April 29, 2010 as Germany faced the hottest day this year so far, with temperatures up to 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit). (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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April 5, 2010 Permalink

Signs of Spring, 2010

The Northern Hemisphere once more begins its tilt towards the Sun, awakening flowers, ushering in new life, and coaxing people outdoors once again. The changing of the season is easily observed in gardens, parks, zoos, farms, festivals and more. Collected here are a handful of photographs showing signs of Spring, 2010, as the final remnants of last winter start to melt away. (27 photos total)

A five-week-old Chinchilla rabbit nibbles grass at a rabbit farm in Moosburg north of Munich March 22, 2010. The rabbits at the farm are bred to compete in rabbit shows. (REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)
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March 22, 2010 Permalink

World Water Day

Today, March 22nd, is recognized by the United Nations Water Group as "World Water Day", this year's theme being "Clean Water for a Healthy World". Although we live on a water-covered planet, only 1% of the world's water is available for human use, the rest locked away in oceans, ice, and the atmosphere. The National Geographic Society feels so strongly about the issues around fresh water that they are distributing an interactive version of their April, 2010 magazine for download - free until April 2nd - and will be exhibiting images from the series at the Annenberg Space for photography. National Geographic was also kind enough to share 15 of their images below, in a collection with other photos from news agencies and NASA - all of water, here at home - Earth. (43 photos total)

The Maya believed natural wells, such as the Xkeken cenote in Mexico's Yucatan, led to the underworld. (John Stanmeyer, VII, © National Geographic)
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January 20, 2010 Permalink

Gold

Sought after since the beginning of recorded history, gold remains a highly valued metal, reaching record highs recently, climbing over 135% in value in the past year alone. The recent rise in the price of gold comes just as annual worldwide mine production has decreased - down by nearly 8% since 2001. In human history, only 161,000 tons of gold have been mined - more than half of that extracted in just the past 50 years. Collected here are a handful of recent photographs of people searching for, mining, rediscovering, celebrating, buying and selling gold. (37 photos total)

A visitor touches the world's largest solid gold brick weighing 220kg (worth over US $7.8 million at today's price), at the Jinguashi Gold Museum in Ruifang, Taipei county, on December 2, 2009. (SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images)
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December 23, 2009 Permalink

Snowy scenes

Last Monday was December 21st - the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). The 21st would also have also been the first day of Nivôse, the first winter month of the long-abandoned French Republican Calendar, named after the Latin word nivosus, which, appropriately means "snow or snowy". Collected here are a handful of recent photographs of these snowy days for those of us in the north. [Editor's note, the next Big Picture will be on Monday, 12/28 - For those who celebrate, Merry Christmas! For everyone else, enjoy the weekend.] (42 photos total)

Children play with snow in the middle of the traffic roundabout at Columbus Circle in New York City on December 20, 2009. Heavy snowfall blanketed the East Coast on Saturday, disrupting public transport and air travel, and hampering holiday shoppers on the last weekend before Christmas. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)
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December 2, 2009 Permalink

100 days in Glacier National Park

This summer, Glacier Park Magazine editor Chris Peterson undertook a photographic project to take photos of Montana's Glacier National Park over 100 consecutive days, starting on May 1, 2009, for a traveling photo show in 2010 to commemorate Glacier's Centennial. He used a mix of film and digital cameras, including an 8 by 10 field camera, a Kodak Pocket Vest camera, circa 1909, and a Speed Graphic, among others. His idea was to use the cameras that would have been used over the course of the Park's 100 years. While Chris was kind enough to share some of his photos below, you really should check out his whole set of 100. All photos and captions are from Chris Peterson. (24 photos total)

Day 38, A favorite tree, June 7th, 2009. T. J. Hileman, one of the Park's first photographers, had a couple of birch trees cut down after he took a coveted picture on Lake McDonald. This is my favorite tree at Two Medicine Lake. I have no plans to cut it down. (© Chris Peterson)
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November 18, 2009 Permalink

On the shoreline

We humans are drawn to the shore, with some 40% of the world's population living within 100 kilometers of a coast. Coastal areas have made recent news with the arrival of several storms, concerns about rising sea levels and other environmental and conservation efforts. Collected here are a handful of photographs from around the world of people and animals at the shoreline, playing, working, struggling or relaxing on the border between land and sea. (36 photos total)

A beach-goer enjoys a day at the beach as the sun goes down over the Spanish coastal city of Marbella on September 1, 2009. The temperatures remain over 30 degrees Celsius at the southern Spanish coast. (SASCHA SCHUERMANN/AFP/Getty Images)
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October 16, 2009 Permalink

World Animal Day 2009

Earlier this month (October 4th) was World Animal Day. Started in 1931, the day was set aside to celebrate animal life in all its forms around the world, and humankind's relationship with the animal kingdom. Collected below are 41 photographs of animals around the world, at play, at rest, at work and more, taken over the past several weeks. [Previously on TBP: World Animal Day 2008] (41 photos total)

A zookeeper feeds milk to a newborn baby giraffe at the zoo of Duisburg October 16, 2009. The male giraffe was born on October 3, 2009. (REUTERS/ Ina Fassbender)
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October 9, 2009 Permalink

Autumn scenes

It's that time of year again, the Earth's northern hemisphere is tipping away from the warmth of the Sun. Days in the north are getting cooler and shorter, leaves are changing, animals migrating and many harvests are underway. The wet summer in New England this year should make 2009 a banner year for brightly-colored fall foliage in the area. Collected here are a group of photographs of recent Autumn scenes around the northern hemisphere. (32 photos total)

A group of Common Cranes gather in dawn light, on a lake in the German state of Brandenburg, close to Berlin September 26, 2009. From September to November tens of thousands of Cranes use the rural area close to the German Capital for a stopover during their migration from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe to their wintering quarters in Spain. The agricultural plains surrounding Berlin are among the biggest crane roosts in Europe with several tens of thousands birds gathering during the peak of migration. (REUTERS/Thomas Krumenacker)
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September 23, 2009 Permalink

Dust storm in Australia

A huge outback dust storm - 500 km (310 mi) wide by 1,000 km (620 mi) long - swept across eastern Australia and blanketed Sydney on Wednesday, September 23rd, disrupting flights and ground transportation and forcing people indoors for shelter from the hazardous air, gale-force winds, and in some places hailstorms. Those few who ventured outside, especially at dawn, were greeted by a Martian sky, familiar landmarks blotted out by the heavy red dust blowing by. Collected here are a few photos of the worst dust storm Sydney has seen in 70 years, three of which you can click to see a before/after fade effect. (26 photos total)

A man walks his dog through Observatory Hill near Sydney on September 23, 2009 as Australia's biggest city is shrouded in an eerie blanket of red dust. Sydney's cars and buildings turned orange as strong winds blew desert dust across the city, snarling commuter and air transport and prompting a warning for children and the elderly to stay indoors. (GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
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July 29, 2009 Permalink

Lightning

A weather front rolls in from the horizon, storm clouds darken the sky, and (at least 1.3 billion times a year) lightning strikes. Last month, the National Weather Service promoted their Lightning Safety Week, with information designed to call attention to safe practices, helping people avoid lightning strikes which kill an average of 100 people every year. While the exact nature of the initial formation of lightning remains a subject of debate, what is known is that lightning strikes are caused by electrical imbalances present in the clouds. Those imbalances correct themselves suddenly, with an often spectacular light show - which I've tried to show here, with a handful of recent photographs of lightning from around the world. (26 photos total)

Lightning lights up the sky behind City Hall as a line of thunderstorms moves through Athens, Ga. Thursday morning, June 18, 2009. Over 4,000 people lost power in Northeast Georgia during the storm. (AP Photo/The Athens Banner-Herald, Kelly Lambert)
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June 1, 2009 Permalink

Sulfur mining in Kawah Ijen

In East Java, Indonesia lies Kawah Ijen volcano, 2,600 meters tall (8,660ft), topped with a large caldera and a 200-meter-deep lake of sulfuric acid. The quietly active volcano emits gases through fumaroles inside the crater, and local miners have tapped those gases to earn a living. Stone and ceramic pipes cap the fumaroles, and inside, the sulfur condenses into a molten red liquid, dripping back down and solidifying into pure sulfur. Miners hack chunks off with steel bars, braving extremely dangerous gases and liquids with minimal protection, then load up as much as they can carry for the several kilometers to the weighing station. Loads can weigh from 45 to 90kg (100 - 200 lbs), and a single miner might make as many as two or three trips in a day. At the end of a long day, miners take home approximately Rp50,000 ($5.00 u.s.). The sulfur is then used for vulcanizing rubber, bleaching sugar and other industrial processes nearby. (22 photos total)

A traditional miner carries sulfur from the Ijen volcano complex on May 24, 2009 outside Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
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April 17, 2009 Permalink

Scenes from the zoo

According to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), over 600 million visitors pass through the gates of over 1,300 zoological parks, reserves and aquariums worldwide every year. Springtime brings many new animals to these parks as well, as newborns. Collected here are some photographs from zoos and aquariums around the world from the past couple of months. Don't forget that 2009 has been designated as the "year of the gorilla" by the United Nations. (37 photos total)

Elke, a five-day-old Francois Langur, makes her media debut at Taronga Zoo's Wildlife Hospital in Sydney, Australia on March 24, 2009. Taronga's keepers have decided to hand-raise the monkey after she was rejected by her mother. (REUTERS/Daniel Munoz)
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April 6, 2009 Permalink

Alaska's Mount Redoubt

Beginning March 22nd, 2009, Alaska's Mount Redoubt, began a series of volcanic eruptions, and continues to be active to this date. Ash clouds produced by Redoubt have pushed 65,000 feet into the sky, disrupting air traffic, drifting across Cook Inlet, and depositing layers of gritty ash on populated areas of the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage, about 180 km (110 miles) to the northeast. Mount Redoubt has erupted at least five times since 1900, with the most recent event taking place in 1989. (27 photos total)

An eruption of Mt. Redoubt seen at sunset from the cockpit of a DC-6 flying over Cook Inlet near Anchorage, Alaska on March 31, 2009. Photograph kindly provided by Bryan Mulder - pilot and photographer. (© Bryan Mulder)
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March 23, 2009 Permalink

Signs of Spring

The Northern Hemisphere is once more beginning its lean towards the Sun, with the spring equinox taking place last Friday, March 20th. People all over are welcoming the spring sunshine and new growth in many ways - from Stonehenge and Mayan pyramids to Dutch meadows and Texan beaches. Here is a collection that shows some of the signs of spring as we shake off the last bits of winter. (29 photos total)

A girl enjoys the warm weather in St James's Park on March 16, 2009 in London, England. Temperatures reached 17 degrees celsius (63F) that day. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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March 19, 2009 Permalink

Undersea eruptions near Tonga

Scientists sailed out to have a closer look at the eruptions of an undersea volcano off the coast of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean today. Tonga's head geologist, Kelepi Mafi, said there was no apparent danger to residents of Nuku'alofa and others living on the main island of Tongatapu. Officials also said it may be related to a quake with a magnitude of 4.4 which struck last March 13 around 35 kilometers from the capital at a depth of nearly 150 kilometres. (I know this is an off-day posting, but really, thought the images were worth it - 12 photos total)

An undersea volcano erupts off the coast of Tonga, sending plumes of steam, ash and smoke up to 100 meters into the air, on March 18, 2009, off the coast of Nuku'Alofa, Tonga. (Dana Stephenson/Getty Images)
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November 10, 2008 Permalink

Scenes from Antarctica

Down in Antarctica, November marks the end of spring, the beginning of austral summer, and the beginning of Antarctica's cruise season. The Sun just rose for the first time in 6 months on September 22nd, and is now visible in the sky all the time. Recent studies in Antarctica have brought new insights into the origins of deep sea octopus species (a 30 million-year-old ancestor from Antarctic waters), volcanic contributions to disappearing antarctic ice, and the effects of increasing numbers of icebergs scouring the seafloor. Collected here are 32 photographs of Antarctica from the past several years. (32 photos total)

After waiting for over two weeks for his mate to return from the sea and relieve him of nest duty, this Adelie penguin's hunger helps him make the decision to abandon his egg in search of fish and krill in the sea. Photo taken December 12, 2002. Known populations of the Adelie penguin have dropped by 65% over the past 25 years. (Melanie Conner/National Science Foundation)
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October 27, 2008 Permalink

Horses at work and at play

The 2008 Breeders' Cup World Championships were held last weekend at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. Horses and jockeys raced 14 championship races of differing grades and surfaces, and prizes totalling $25.5 milllion were awarded. Collected here are photos from the Breeders' Cup, and several others, taking a look at horses in the news around the world recently, at work and at play. (25 photos total)

Jockey Lanfranco Dettori rides Donativum of Great Britain en route to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf race during the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park October 25, 2008 in Arcadia, California. (Harry How/Getty Images)
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October 17, 2008 Permalink

World Animal Day

World Animal Day was observed earlier this month - on October 4th. Started in Florence Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists, World Animal Day has since expanded its focus from its original intent, which was to bring attention to endangered or threatened species. The day is now set aside as a time to reflect on all of the animals we share this world with, and our involvement with them - and to spur action to commemorate that respectful relationship. Half the world's mammals are declining in population and more than a third are probably threatened with extinction, according to an update of of the Red List (an inventory of biodiversity issued by the IUCN), released on October 6, 2008. Below is a collection of recent photos of animals around the world - Happy (belated) World Animal Day. (38 photos total)

Green Sea Turtles in the waters of Bora Bora, Tahiti are seen in this undated photograph from an exhibit titled "Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World," recently shown at the Peerless building in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The exhibit showcased animals most threatened by global warming, such as green sea turtles. The gender of sea turtle eggs are determined by temperature, which means global warming would upset the natural gender balance. (Michele Westmorland)
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October 15, 2008 Permalink

Days of Autumn

Autumn is here - a time for transition. In the northern hemisphere this means cooler, shorter days, the appearance of colorful foliage, harvest time, and feasts and festivals. Collected here are 34 photos of the season, from around the world. (34 photos total)

A red stag stands in the early morning fog in Richmond Park on October 11, 2008 in London, England. Autumn sees the start of the rutting season where the large stags can be heard roaring and barking in an attempt to attract females. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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October 6, 2008 Permalink

Earth From Above comes to NYC

Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand will bring his work back to the United States - to New York City for the first time in 2010. Aiming to inspire people to think globally about sustainable living, Arthus-Bertrand has been photographing unique views of our planet, seen from the sky, since 1994 - and has produced an exhibit of over 150 4-ft. by 6-ft. prints which will be on display in New York City at the World Financial Center Plaza and along the Battery Park City Esplanade from May 1, 2009 to June 28, 2009, Spring Spring of 2010. When completed in New York City, the Earth From Above exhibit will also move on to California in 2010. Photographs and captions all courtesy of Yann Arthus-Bertrand. [Update 10.08.2008: At the request of the coordinator of Yann Arthus-Bertrand's upcoming exhibit, the number of photographs displayed here has been reduced to ten - Alan Taylor.] (38 10 photos total)

Icebreaker Louis Saint Laurent in Resolute Bay, Nunavut Territory, Canada. [map] (© Yann Arthus-Bertrand)
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September 15, 2008 Permalink

The short - but eventful - life of Ike

In its brief lifespan of only 13 days, Hurricane Ike wreaked great deal of havoc. Affecting several countries including Cuba, Haiti, and the United States, Ike is blamed for approximately 114 deaths (74 in Haiti alone), and damages that are still being tallied, with estimates topping $10 billion. Many shoreline communities of Galveston, Texas were wiped from the map by the winds, storm surge and the walls of debris pushed along by Ike - though Galveston was spared the level of disaster it suffered in 1900. (28 photos total)

A horse grazes beside a house, surrounded by floodwater, near Winnie, Texas after Hurricane Ike, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008. Ike was the first major storm to directly hit a major U.S. metro area since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005. (AP Photo/Pool, Smiley N. Pool)
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July 16, 2008 Permalink

Recent Volcanic Activity

Several volcanoes have erupted in the past few months - two in Chile (Chaiten and Llaima) and one in Alaska (Okmok). At any given time, approximately 20 to 50 volcanoes are active worldwide (depending on the definition of "active"). Collected here are photos of volcanic events from the the past several years, seen from many angles, including low Earth Orbit. (15 photos total)

In this photo released by Sernageomin-Onemi, Lava explodes from the Llaima volcano, one of Chile's most active volcanoes, in Cherquenco, Chile, early Thursday, July 10, 2008. The 9,400-foot (3,120-meter) volcano grew more dangerous after activity had decreased in recent days.(AP Photo/Sernageomin-Onemi)
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June 10, 2008 Permalink

Water, Water, Everywhere

Water is having a significant impact on many people's lives around the world right now. From droughts to quake lakes, floods to monsoons, people and animals are dealing with water in many ways. In these recent photos, we can see people play, wash, mourn, survive, escape, celebrate and marvel with something so basic as water. (17 photos total)

Department of Water and Power workers are emptying out bales of plastic balls in the Ivanhoe reservoir in Los Angeles on Monday, June 9, 2008. Department of Water and Power released about 400,000 black plastic 4-inch balls as the first installment of approximately 3 million to form a floating cover over 7 acres of the reservoir to protect the water from sunlight. When sunlight mixes with the bromide and chlorine in Ivanhoe's water, the carcinogen bromate can form. (Irfan Khan/AP)
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June 5, 2008 Permalink

World Environment Day, 2008

Today, June 5th is World Environment Day, as established by the United Nations in 1972 to "stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and enhance political attention and action" Further, from the official website: "On this World Environment Day, let us examine the state of our environment. Let us consider carefully the actions which each of us must take, and then address ourselves to our common task of preserving all life on earth in a mood of sober resolution and quiet confidence." (13 photos total)

Small fishing boats tied to the banks of the Chaohu lake, where a pollution-linked algae bloom has reappeared, in Hefei, eastern China's Anhui province on June 4, 2008. Algae blooms are common on many Chinese freshwater lakes and are chiefly caused by untreated sewage containing high concentrations of nitrogen, a main ingredient in detergents and fertilisers, as more than 70 percent of China's waterways and 90 percent of its underground water have been contaminated by pollution. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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