Jos Barlow, Lancaster University and Alexander C. Lees, Manchester Metropolitan University
Imagine a rainforest at dawn – the tall canopy laden with dripping ferns and orchids, tree trunks covered in spongy mosses and lichens, and the morning mist only slowly burning away as the sun rises. While there is fuel everywhere, it seems unimaginable that such humid ecosystems could ever catch fire.
And without human intervention, they don’t. The charcoal record points towards infrequent fires in the Amazon even during periods of pre-Columbian human settlement, and the 8,000 or more Amazonian tree species have none of the evolutionary adaptations to fire found in their savanna or boreal cousins.
But, with thousands of fires currently burning across the Amazon, it’s worth looking at how these wildfires behave. In this context, a “wildfire” is one which has gone out of control, even if started by humans. What do they mean for a forest that hasn’t evolved with fire? And what is needed to prevent further damage?
Continue reading Amazon fires explained: what are they, why are they so damaging, and how can we stop them?
There are big wildfires in the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest. Rainforests are the oldest living ecosystems and without a shadow of a doubt, the most vital habitats on Earth (Amazon rainforest has been in existence for at least 55 million years). The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species.
Continue reading If we lose the Amazon rainforest, the consequences would be disastrous
We, humans, changing the Earth – mostly (almost always) in a bad way. Just over the last 25 years, we have destroyed 10% of the Earth’s wilderness. Now, a new world map created by the University of Cincinnati geography professor Tomasz Stepinski shows how the Earth’s surface has dramatically changed between 1992 and 2015.
Continue reading New Maps Show How We Changed the Earth’s Surface Over the last 25 Years
Rainforests are the oldest living ecosystems and without a shadow of a doubt, the most vital habitats on Earth. They cover only 6% of the Earth’s surface but yet they contain more than half of the world’s plant and animal species. According to the current estimates, around 40% to 75% of all biotic species are indigenous Notes 1 to the rainforests.
What’s more, there are probably millions of species of plants, insects, and microorganisms still undiscovered in tropical rainforests. They are responsible for 28% of the world’s oxygen turnover. More than 20% of the world’s oxygen is produced in the Amazon Rainforest only, that’s why it has been described as the “lungs of our planet”.
Unfortunately, rainforests are rapidly disappearing due to deforestation. The loss is huge, and probably hundreds or even thousands of undiscovered species going extinct every single day. We are losing them forever.
Continue reading Rainforests of the World (Infographic)
We live on a strange rock… and nobody realizes this better than astronauts. A new documentary, including astronaut experiences of looking down at Earth from space, is coming to National Geographic Channel soon. The award-winning American filmmaker and writer Darren Aronofsky, the American actor, producer, rapper, comedian, and songwriter Will Smith, and experienced astronauts join forces to tell the extraordinary story of why life as we know it exists on Earth. Premieres March 26 on the National Geographic Channel. Here’s the trailer of “One Strange Rock” documentary.
Continue reading Watch: “One Strange Rock” Trailer
The Earth, our home has a lot of beautiful, amazing locations – and some strange places as well. These weird places sometimes look “impossible”, sometimes dangerous, sometimes scary, but despite all that, still can be beautiful. Here are ten of them.
Continue reading 10 Strange Places on Earth
Our planet is constantly changing over the years. Some changes are the part of nature, and some of them are on humanity’s shoulders. Over the years astronauts have taken photos of the Earth and documented these changes. NASA’s World of Change series shows how our planet’s land, oceans, atmosphere, and Sun are changing over time.
Continue reading Changing Earth