Glacial melting and flooding occurs every year by the Skafta River in Iceland. As the water travels down towards the North Atlantic Ocean, incredible patterns are created on the hillsides. Rising lava, steam vents, or newly opened hot springs can all cause this rapid ice melt, leading to a sizable release of water that picks up sediment as it flows down from the glaciers.
Labirinto della Masone, located just outside of Parma, Italy, is the world’s largest bamboo labyrinth. Taking the shape of an eight-pointed star, the labyrinth is made up of 200,000 bamboo plants, some as much as 49 feet (15 m) tall. For a sense of scale, this entire complex covers about 17 acres (6.87 hectares).
Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone formation in the Northern Territory of Australia. The monolith — rising to a height of 2,831 feet (863 m) with a perimeter of 5.8 miles (9.4 km) — is a sacred site to the Aboriginal people who settled there 10,000 years ago. While the first Australian tourists arrived at Uluru in 1936, annual visitor numbers rose to more than 400,000 by the year 2000. Increased tourism at the site provides regional and national economic benefits, but also creates an ongoing challenge to balance conservation, cultural values, and visitor needs.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their “federal city” because it is the seat of the nation’s parliament. The Old City of Bern, seen here, is situated on a crook of the Aare River and more modern neighborhoods have sprouted up in surrounding areas. Bern has a population of about 140,000, making it the fifth most populous city in Switzerland.
Schwetzingen Palace is located in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Built in stages from 1700 until 1750, the grounds of the palace feature ornate gardens that were designed in the styles of the the "French formal garden" and the "English landscape garden."
Belo Horizonte is the sixth largest city in Brazil with a population of roughly 2.5 million people. The city was constructed at the end of the 19th century with a planned, symmetrical array of perpendicular and diagonal streets in its downtown area. The roads are named after the Brazilian states and the indigenous tribes of Brazil.
Aquaculture operations are seen along much of the shoreline of the Saguling Dam Reservoir in West Java, Indonesia. Located at the headwater of the Citarum River, the reservoir’s primary purpose is hydroelectric power generation, but it also provides water for net-cage fish farming and rice paddy irrigation. The Citarum River is listed as one of the most polluted rivers in the world, primarily due to contamination from the Indonesian textile industry.
The Beni River flows for roughly 680 miles (1,100 km) through northern Bolivia. Scattered along the river are numerous oxbow lakes, which are curved bodies of water that form when a meander from the main stem of a river is cut off, creating a freestanding body of water. Dark green colors in the image indicate forest and lighter green shades indicate grassland or sparse forest.
Iōjima — not to be confused with Iwo Jima — is an island located 59 miles (110 km) south of Kagoshima, Japan. Iōjima experiences frequent volcanic activity, which results in massive amounts of sulfur dioxide flowing into the sea. This causes the surrounding waters to turn yellow, green, and teal as seen here. The island has a total area of 4.5 miles (11.65 sq km) and a population of 142 people.
This Overview, taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, shows an oblique view of the Maiella Massif in Italy’s Central Apennine Mountains. A massif is a compact group of connected mountains, usually isolated from other mountains in a range. Located about 25 miles (40 km) from the coastline of the Adriatic Sea, the Maiella Massif abruptly rises to more than 9,000 feet (2,700 m) above sea level.
Waste ponds are seen at Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station near Tonopah, Arizona. As the most powerful nuclear power plant in the United States, the facility produces an average of 3.3 gigawatts, or enough power to serve roughly 4 million people. Additionally, since it is the only major nuclear power plant that is not located near a large body of water, this facility evaporates water from the treated sewage of several nearby cities to provide cooling for the steam that it produces. This image was featured in our story "Rethinking Nuclear Power."Read the full story →
The large, circular earth work seen here is part of a major redevelopment project in Taparura, a district on the northern coast of Sfax, Tunisia. The project plans to restore the city’s beaches and create more than 1,000 acres (420 hectares) of land to accommodate new housing, hotels, recreational areas, green spaces and public facilities for about 50,000 residents. Taparura draws its name from the Roman Taparura, a fifth century town that Sfax was founded atop of in AD 849.
The Arlit Uranium mine is located in Arlit, Niger. French nuclear power generation as well as the French nuclear weapons program are dependent on the uranium that is extracted from the mine - more than 3400 tonnes per year. This image was featured in our story "Rethinking Nuclear Power."Read the full story →
Brightly-colored roofs are seen here in Khlong Sam, a tambon located in the Pathum Thani Province of central Thailand. Many buildings in Thailand have ceramic tile roofs, painted in lighter shades to reflect sunlight and keep indoor areas cooler. These buildings, all constructed within the past 20 years, were likely painted in a uniform color that varied depending on the time they were built.
The Diavik Diamond Mine is located on Lac de Gras lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada, 120 miles (193 km) south of the Arctic Circle. The mine produces approximately 7.5 million carats of diamonds each year. In standard weight, that’s an annual output of 3,300 pounds (1,500 kg). In this Overview, the most distinguishable areas of the facility are its two primary open pits, waste ponds, processing facilities, and an airstrip capable of landing aircraft as large as 737s and C-130s.
A residential neighborhood sits adjacent to a large oil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Owned by ExxonMobil, this facility is the fourth largest of its kind in the United States and the 12th largest in the world, with an input capacity of more than 502,000 barrels per day. This refinery is one of many industrial plants along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, an 85-mile stretch known as "Cancer Alley" because of the abundance of cancer cases that have occurred there.
Albenga is a city situated on the Gulf of Genoa in Italy. The economy of Albenga is primarily driven by tourism, local commerce, and agriculture. When viewing the town from above, it’s easy to see the amount of space dedicated to agriculture because of the widespread use of greenhouses or "plasticulture." The use of plastic covering is designed to increase produce yield, increase produce size, and shorten growth time.
Have a look at these Overviews to see the destruction caused by four tornadoes that tore through Lee County, Alabama, on Sunday. Latest news reports say 23 people were killed in the disaster and nearly 80 more were injured. Many trees, homes and other structures were destroyed. According to the National Weather Service, these tornadoes were among a group of 34 that struck Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina over the weekend — with one in Lee County reaching wind speeds of 170 mph (273 km/h).
Marsamxett Harbor is a natural harbor on the east coast of the island of Malta. The harbor is mostly used for leisure activities and has the greatest number of yacht berthing options available on the island. At its center is Manoel Island, home to an eighteenth century star fort, Fort Manoel.
Cars and trucks sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic along the EDSA Highway in Manila, Philippines. Manila is recognized as the densest city in the world and also has some of the worst traffic on the planet. In addition to its large population, the city lacks quality infrastructure or additional modes of reliable transport. Furthermore, laws that have been implemented to limit the number of cars on the road or to mitigate the city’s poor urban design are rarely followed. In total, 71% of the air pollution in the Philippines comes from automobiles and the dirty air that they produce has been considered a life-threatening problem to Manila’s 12 million residents. This Overview is from our "Peak Car" feature.Read the full story →