Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 for the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA. The bar chart below shows this year in the context of the past 140 years in the modern temperature record. Tracking global temperature trends provides a critical indicator of the impact of human activities—specifically, greenhouse gas emissions—on our planet. Scientists from Europe’s Copernicus program also have 2020 tying 2016 as the warmest year on record, while the UK Met Office ranked 2020 as the second-warmest. NASA’s full 2020 surface temperature data set and the complete methodology used to make the temperature calculations are available online.
Surrounded by arid and barren land in east Africa, Lake Turkana is the largest permanent desert lake in the world. The image above shows Lake Turkana (formerly Lake Rudolf) on December 10, 2020, as observed by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. Like many desert lakes, Lake Turkana is a salty, closed basin. Many intact fossils have been found on Lake Turkana’s eastern shore around Koobi Fora Ridge. Today, the area around Lake Turkana is sparsely populated by people due to its isolated location and inadequate fresh water.
An astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) shot this photograph of a portion of Padre Island, a long barrier island along the southern Texas coast. For this reason, the beach appears wider and extends farther seaward on South Padre Island. Stretching north from the channel, Padre Island National Seashore protects nearly 80 miles (130 kilometers) of beaches for nature and recreation. North and South Padre Islands are well known for attracting tourists and beachgoers, but they have also intrigued scientists. Extensive microbial mats—multi-layered sheets of microorganisms such as bacteria—take advantage of this natural protection and thrive in the protected tidal flats along the backshore of Padre Island.
But in places such as the Central Aldan ore district in the Russian Far East—where concentrations of the precious metal have been discovered—mining operations are large enough to be seen from space. Central Aldan is one of Russia’s largest gold ore districts, with the mineral occurring in numerous deposits, or “lodes,” in the fractured rock. The Kuranakh gold deposit was discovered in 1947, and a moderate amount of gold was extracted by 1955. In areas where a lode has been eroded, pieces of gold can become concentrated by rivers and streams into placer deposits. From April to December in the 2019 mining season, three dredges extracted 18,600 ounces of gold from the Bolshoy Kuranakh placer deposit.
For much of the year, an efflorescent salt crust makes Lake Lefroy stand out as a bright, white spot in satellite images. But after heavy rains, the ephemeral lake in Western Australia takes on a different look. Large volumes of water do not persist for long in Lake Lefroy because the region’s hot, dry climate encourages evaporation. While water pooled in early February in a pattern that resembles a tropical fish, it’s unlikely the pattern will last. Lake Lefroy is frequently reshaped by changes in the prevailing winds that transport water back and forth between different parts of the playa.
Picture StoryThe light of a winter dawn illuminates Mount Olstind on the Lofoten Isles with the pretty village of Reine in the foreground. We had arrived in Reine the previous evening after a long and arduous journey. Three flights with three different airlines, and then a long drive over snow covered roads to our accommodation. A short walk along the road took us to a viewpoint where we set up for this shot. Create your own portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 700,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryHovland, MN is about 20 miles from the Canadian border on Lake Superior. On this morning, the temperature was -10 with a windchill of -35. In order to get to this location, I hiked 10 minutes through the woods with ice cleats until I entered this clearing on the shoreline. The sky was cloudy but as the sun rose over the horizon, the sky turned into an unexpected pastel painting. Create your own portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 700,000 members and followers.
For more than 30 years, nations have been working to protect Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer by banning the new production and trade of ozone-depleting substances. Part of that effort has included tracking the atmospheric concentration of such chemicals. In the 1970 and 80s, scientists discovered that chemicals widely used in refrigerants and insulating foams were rising into the stratosphere. Even after production ceased, scientists still expected chemicals like CFC-11 to continue leaking from existing products for years, but at a gradually declining rate. In 2018, NOAA first reported that atmospheric CFC-11 had declined less than expected, hinting that something had changed.
Picture StoryI was on my way to a beautiful house in our area to capture it on photo, when I suddenly came face to face with this beautiful tree, the tree stands along a dike in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands. Due to the many melt water high in the mountains of the Alps, the water in the rivers of the Netherlands was higher than normal and this tree was therefore in the water. Because it had also snowed in the Netherlands it looked all in all wintry and I thought it was time to take my nikon out of the bag and take this picture. Snow can no longer be taken for granted in the Netherlands, so this photo is a beautiful reminder of a beautiful winter in our small country. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryYosemite National park is always a great place to visit, but during winter it just transforms into a magical place. As it always happens in photography, sometimes you just need a bit of luck to be at the right moment in time to take a good photo. The snowstorm clouds cleared at the right time to let the sunset rays hit the Sentinel Rock and give it the perfect glow. Hey VisitorDid you know that now we offer a VIP membership? Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryI have been to visit Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio several times. There are several, separated areas that make up the park, and we decided to start with Old Mans Cave the next morning. In the stream at that spot, there is a rock shelf that the water flows over, and it had made an ice fall in addition to the waterfall. The pool just below that had also frozen over very smoothly, and allowed for a very fine reflection of the ice fall formations. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryTrudging through heavy snow in the mountains, I had expected to come across some stunning wide vista. Instead, the heavy fresh snow had made unique images throughout the fallen trees. I reminded myself as I trudged on that the beautiful nature I was in was home to much more than people visiting National Parks. Hey VisitorDid you know that now we offer a VIP membership? Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryFrom my home at sea level in Vancouver, British Columbia I look up at Mount Seymour in the North Shore Mountains. While it rarely snows in the city, the mountain peaks display their snowy summits throughout the winter. A good road zig-zags up Mount Seymour to provide winter access to a trail head used by back-country skiers and snow-shoe hikers. After climbing 45 Minutes, well before sunrise, I no longer need the headlamp as the eastern sky began to brighten. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryIn 2019 we had two main astronomical events in Southern Brazil. In the first one it was absolutely impossible to shoot, even driving as far as 300km from home, once it was completely overcast. In the second, on the other hand, the forecast was great and my plane was to shoot the eclipsed full moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean. At the location I've found the right place and waited until the right time. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryIt was a very cold January morning that I drove from my home in southeastern Washington state to Lake Wenatchee State Park near Leavenworth, Washington. Because of the ice and compact snow on the roads I avoided the mountain pass which is a shorter route to Lake Wenatchee and went 30 minutes longer on a safer route. Upon arriving at Lake Wenatchee State Park I was pleased to see the high snow levels and the partially frozen lake. I was happy to have the whole lake to myself and was glad I dressed warmly for the 9 degree weather. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Making Holland a safe country was not easy: the Dutch had to fight for almost every square metre of land. The large water engineering works of the past centuries, culminating in the Delta Works, are examples of our victories over the sea. How we manage our water and enjoy it can be seen and experienced in various places for example at the Afsluitdijk. From sea to lakeThe 32-kilometre-long Afsluitdijk, built between 1927 and 1933, is an important part of the Zuiderzee Works and connects the provinces of Friesland and North Holland. The Zuiderzee Works consisted of two parts.
The central reach of the river flows through a flat country where the river regularly floods the landscape and it forms wetlands with unique fauna and flora. While most of the area is a nature reserve with restricted access, some parts are accessible to the public. It is a unique place with a lot of possibilities for landscape and wildlife photography throughout the whole year. In places where the wetland is shallow, plants and leaves from the trees get locked in the ice. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
University Duke UniversityFewer than 366 surviving North Atlantic right whales remain on Earth as extinction pressures mount on the critically endangered species, according to a new study. “North Atlantic right whales face a serious risk of extinction, but there is hope if we can work together on solutions. Trauma reduction measures and applying new tools to assess their health are critically important to enhance the welfare of individual whales. North Atlantic right whales feed in the waters off New England and eastern Canada and migrate to the waters off the southeastern United States to give birth in the winter. “Conserving and recovering the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale is a research priority,” says coauthor Teri Rowles, NOAA Fisheries senior advisor for marine mammal health science.
Picture StoryAfter visiting the Icelandic Highlands briefly on an earlier trip, I went on a ten day tour to more fully explore this region. The highlands of Iceland have a variety of landscapes from snow covered peaks in Kerlingarfjöll and Landmannalaugar to the utterly barren high desert of Sprengisandur. The weather was typical of the Highlands during the summer, long stretches of overcast days with strong winds and sudden bursts of rain. As such, I wasn’t expecting much as I clambered out of the truck and set up my tripod. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.
Picture StoryThis picture was taken at a two-day hike in Summer 2020 at the Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. Just nearby my camp, there was an excellent spot that provided a magnificent view towards the west and the rolling hills of the Appalachian mountain range. I climbed a small rock in order to get a bit a higher elevation to avoid having nearby trees in the view. Sometimes I wish I would own a telephoto lens with more than 200mm to make the framing slightly less cumbersome over long distance. Create your personal portfolio page and let us share it monthly to over 400,000 members and followers.