Our Planet

Dune Lankard is embracing a method called regenerative ocean farming.

Facing Warming Waters, Fishermen Are Taking Up Ocean Farming

Called regenerative ocean farming, this model involves growing shellfish and kelp in underwater gardens

This image from Seabed 2030 shows how much of the seafloor has been mapped, with black areas representing places without data yet.

Innovation for Good

Can Scientists Map the Entire Seafloor by 2030?

Two non-profit organizations are betting that with the help of research institutions, private vessels and new technologies, they can do just that

James Smithson was the Smithsonian’s founding donor, bequeathing approximately one ton of gold British sovereigns.

Smithsonian 175

Why Did James Smithson Leave His Fortune to the U.S. and More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

Head scientist at the Smithsonian Marine Station, Valerie Paul, collects blue-green algae samples to study the chemicals they emit. Those chemicals can endanger coral reefs, but also have biomedical potential.

Smithsonian Voices

How Algae Communicate

Smithsonian scientist Valerie Paul studies the ways marine biochemicals can potentially help restore coral reefs and create new biomedicine

The Algodón River flows through a forest of the Amazon Basin in the remote northeastern corner of Peru. Scientists collected and analyzed a series of ten roughly 3-foot-long soil cores from three sites, each located at least a half-mile away from river courses and floodplains.

Future of Conservation

In a Remote Amazon Region, Study Shows Indigenous Peoples Have Practiced Forest Conservation for Millennia

Smithsonian researcher Dolores Piperno says native people have always played an important role in sustainability

Orange scalefin anthias fish swarm in front of a fire coral in the Red Sea's Ras Mohammed Marine Park, Egypt.

Smithsonian Voices

Will the Oceans of 2030 Brim With Reef Robots and Other Fancy Stuff?

Imagine a world where an Indigenous fisher can get forecasts of local marine life from a smartphone, or robots offer real-time data on coral reef health

An artist’s illustration shows an asteroid hitting Earth. Large impactors hit the planet every one to three million years.

New Research of Impact Crater Blows Away Previous Estimates of Its Age

Scientists say the Boltysh crater in Ukraine formed well after the impact in Mexico that caused the dinosaurs to go extinct

Small family-run dive tour operations in Mexico have been found to give more back to their communities than large foreign-owned businesses.

In Mexico, Dive Tourism Is Worth as Much as Fishing

Researchers estimate diving and snorkeling bring in up to $725 million annually

Oil Spill #10, Oil Slick at Rip Tide, Gulf of Mexico, June 24, 2010 (detail) by Edward Burtynsky, 2010

The Sad Truths Behind These Unsettling Works of Art

A new exhibition reflects on the haunting aesthetics of human impact on the planet

This bison calf, standing in the doorway of a barn on the Blackfeet Reservation, is a symbol of hope for the Blackfoot people.

When the Bison Return, Will Their Habitat Rebound?

An effort to bring wild bison to the Great Plains aims to restore one of the world’s most endangered ecosystems

Combining carbon dioxide and calcium creates calcium carbonate rocks such as limestone.

To Combat Climate Change, Researchers Want to Pull Carbon Dioxide From the Ocean and Turn It Into Rock

Running seawater through an ocean carbon capture plant could chemically convert carbon dioxide to limestone on a grand scale

While this year’s Arctic sea ice extended further than last year’s, there still wasn’t as much of it as there was only two decades ago. Thinner and younger sea ice in winter and less ice in the summer are two of the many elements of the Arctic’s new reality.

Smithsonian Voices

Climate Change Redefines Meaning of Normal in the Arctic

As Earth’s climate changes, people around the world are witnessing insidious changes and responding to their new normal

Climate change is causing oceans to warm, which in turn affects fish and fishers. Now, scientists are turning towards management strategies to protect species and the industry.

Smithsonian Voices

Why Fish Are the Catch of the Day for Climate Research

Fishery management systems can teach scientists how fish can be raised sustainably in wild fisheries

The research team treks through the Alaskan wilderness, seeking an answer to the mysteries of how climate change is affecting the environment.

A Journey to the Northernmost Tree in Alaska

Explorer Roman Dial leads a team of young scientists on a mission to document a rapidly changing landscape

Iztuzu Beach in Turkey was closed during part of the pandemic. Around the world, lockdowns to combat Covid-19 forced people to stay home and halt activities—with mixed results for ecosystems and the living things within them.

Covid-19

The Positive and Negative Impacts of Covid on Nature

The absence of humans in some places led animals to increase, while the cancellation of conservation work in other places harmed species

Coral reef health is an important indicator of the ocean’s well-being. Scientists can study corals to learn more about how climate change is affecting the oceans.

Smithsonian Voices

DNA Makes Waves in the Fight to Save Coral Reefs

This emerging technique could help scientists understand and anticipate the threats coral reefs face

Zircons are the oldest minerals in the world and come in colors like the rich blue above. Researchers have now used these gemstones to identify when modern plate tectonics began.

Smithsonian Voices

Earth's Oldest Minerals Hold Clues About the Likely Start of Plate Tectonics

New research reveals how one of Earth’s defining geologic features likely formed—and set the stage for the emergence of life

Google Earth image of a healthy forest on the lower right and a ghost forest full of dead trees on the left.

Why Ecologists Are Haunted by the Rapid Growth of Ghost Forests

A study in North Carolina of dying trees may represent a foreboding preview of what may come to coastal ecosystems worldwide

Iran's Lake Urmia, once one of the largest saltwater lakes in the world, is vanishing due to climate change.

Innovation for Good

Can Climate Fiction Writers Reach People in Ways That Scientists Can't?

A new subgenre of science fiction leans on the expertise of biologists and ecologists to imagine a scientifically plausible future Earth

So far, scientists have only documented jagged lightning bolts. Some physicists believe that the discovery of a completely straight lightning bolt could prove the existence of dark matter.

Could Weirdly Straight Bolts of Lightning Be a Sign of Dark Matter?

A group of scientists say the phenomenon could indicate dark matter speeding through our world at more than 300 miles a second

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