Category Archives: Plants

Watch: Earth’s Biosphere – Monthly Averages of Land Greenness (Vegetation) and Ocean Chlorophyll

NASA has published a video titled “Earth’s Biosphere: The Green Marble”, showing the monthly averages of land greenness (vegetation) and ocean chlorophyll. You can watch how the primary producers (plants and phytoplankton) transform the Earth’s landmasses and oceans over 12 months.

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What did Ancient Earth Look Like

I stumbled upon an amazing web page showing what did ancient Earth look like. On “Dinosaur Pictures and Facts” web page (dinosaurpictures.org), there’s also an interactive animation. On this page, you can either select the years (i.e. 600 million years ago) or jump to a particular event (i.e. first multicellular life) and see how ancient Earth did look like then. You can also remove the clouds and stop the Earth’s rotation if you want to.

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Watch: Iceland Is Growing New Forests for the First Time in 1,000 Years

Iceland was extensively forested when it was first settled. When the Vikings first arrived in the 9th century, the Nordic island was covered in 25 to 40 percent forest, compared to 1% in the present day. In the late 12th century, Ari the Wise (Ari Thorgilsson, 1067–1148 AD), Iceland’s most prominent medieval chronicler, described it in the Íslendingabók (Book of Icelanders Notes 1) as “forested from mountain to sea shore”. Unfortunately, after the permanent human settlement, the forests were heavily exploited for firewood, timber and to make room for farming. Within a few centuries, almost all of Iceland’s trees were gone. This rapid deforestation has resulted in massive soil erosion that puts the island at risk for desertification. Today, many farms have been abandoned. Three-quarters of Iceland’s 100,000 km2is affected by soil erosion, 18,000 km2 (6,900 sq mi) serious enough to make the land useless.

Today, the Icelandic Forest Service Notes 2 has taken on the mammoth task of bringing back the woodlands. They plant around three million seedlings each year in the island’s soil. With the help of forestry societies and forest farmers, Iceland’s trees are slowly beginning to make a comeback. But there are many difficulties. For example, as the climate getting warmer, the winters have become milder. As a result, many of the trees planted back in the 1950s, especially Siberian larch (Larix sibirica) are literally dying after several decades of being reasonably good. Watch this short film by Euforgen (published by the National Geographic channel) to learn more about how their efforts are working to benefit Iceland’s economy and ecology through forestry.

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10 Recently Lost Natural Wonders

The Earth is always changing. “The only thing that is constant is change, as Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BC) the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher once said. Unfortunately, things do not always happen the way we would have wanted. Here are 10 recently lost natural wonders that have been disappeared in recent centuries or even decades.

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The Tallest Tree in the World: Hyperion

Redwoods (scientific name: Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest trees in the world, they easily reach heights of 300 feet (91 meters) and even more. They are not the tallest only, also evergreen and very long-lived: their lifespan is more than 1000 years, and some have been documented at even more than 2,000 years old. They can grow up to 29.2 feet (8.9 m) in diameter at breast height/dbh. Redwoods live in California, United States; and before commercial logging and clearing began by the 1850s, this massive tree occurred naturally in an estimated 2,100,000 acres (8,500 km2) along much of coastal California (excluding southern California where rainfall is not sufficient) and the southwestern corner of coastal Oregon within the United States. Now, unfortunately, an estimated 70% or more of ancient old-growth redwood trees have been displaced by environmental changes or cut down.

Among the redwoods, a tree named Hyperion dwarfs them all. The tree was discovered on August 25, 2006, by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor, and is 379.7 feet (115.7 meters) tall.

The tree is estimated to contain 530 m3 (18,600 cu ft) of wood and to be roughly 700–800 years old. Researchers stated that woodpecker damage at the top may have prevented the tree from growing taller. According to Michael Taylor, “It’s possible it could’ve topped out at 380 feet (116 meters)”.

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