Our Planet

Saylor Flett, left, fans flames ignited by Jeff Greef. Air quality, weather and even bird migration affect when it’s safe to conduct a burn.

Planet Positive

Fighting Fire With Fire in California

How communities in the West are boldly setting property ablaze to reduce the impact of extreme wildfires

Live oaks in Beaufort, South Carolina, photographed using an old-fashioned wet-plate process

The Live Oak Tree Has Withstood the Ravages of History

Majestic and sturdy, the icon of the American South has offered protection time and again

Dairy farms like this one run by the Barstow family in Hadley, Massachusetts, make smart use of a substance cows produce in abundance.

How Dairy Farmers Are Turning Manure Into Money

These New Englanders have found a way to help the planet and convert more than 9,000 tons of cow waste annually into electricity

The sun sets over the Susquehanna River in northern Pennsylvania.

America's Waterways: The Past, Present and Future

America's Waterways: The Past, Present and Future

In a series of articles, <em>Smithsonian</em> magazine highlights all that draws our eyes to our nation's fresh and coastal waters

A $25 million plan to uncover 1,100 feet of Jordan Creek and build three bridges is moving forward in Springfield, Missouri.

America's Waterways: The Past, Present and Future

How 'Daylighting' Buried Waterways Is Revitalizing Cities Across America

Urban centers are exhuming creeks and streams once covered up to control floodwater—and bringing life back in the process

A father shows his son the awful-smelling algae hugging the shoreline of the St. Lucie River during a summer bloom in Stuart, Florida, in 2016. The algae fouled coastal waterways, created angry communities, closed beaches and had an economic impact as tourists and others were driven away by the smell and inability to enjoy the waterways.

Florida’s Love-Hate Relationship With Phosphorus

The state has mined and abused the Devil's Element for decades, and now it is increasingly fouling precious coastal waters

Untold tsunamis hit coastal communities before anyone logged them in written records. Paleotsunami researchers are on a quest to uncover these forgotten disasters.

These Tsunami Detectives Search for Ancient Disasters

The gigantic waves have been decimating coastlines since time immemorial. We ignore these prehistoric warnings at our own peril.

Large-scale production of green hydrogen is seen as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels in the coming decades. Latin America is well-positioned to play a large part in this new industry and already has several projects in the works.

Can Green Hydrogen Help Power Latin America?

In anticipation of future demand, several projects are underway in the region to produce this clean energy source

&Iacute;ris Dr&ouml;fn Gu&eth;mundsd&oacute;ttir (left) and her cousin Anton Ingi Eir&iacute;ksson release pufflings from the Hamarinn sea cliff on the Icelandic island of Heimaey.

Northern Europe and the British Isles

An Icelandic Town Goes All Out to Save Baby Puffins

Kids and senior citizens alike rally to rescue beloved young seabirds that have lost their bearings

The new solar panels would filter light more efficiently.

Farmers May Not Have to Choose Between Crops and Solar Panels

With a new photovoltaic panel, researchers harness sunshine to harvest energy and food together, taking advantage of the full light spectrum

About 100 miles northwest of Mexico City in the UNESCO-designated Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, up to a billion of the brilliant-winged insects spend November to March clustered on branches.

A Ring of Fire, Millions of Monarchs and Other Rare Natural Phenomena Worth Traveling For

Be in the right place at the right time to witness these sublime sights

Thwaites Glacier as captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission, November 26, 2020.

How We Came to Know and Fear the Doomsday Glacier

We’re only beginning to understand Antarctica's Thwaites, the world's most vulnerable glacier

Copepods at various life stages teem inside a water droplet. The creatures go through six larval and six juvenile stages between egg and adulthood. They grow a new pair of legs at each stage.

These Gorgeous Photos Capture Life Inside a Drop of Seawater

A passion for the infinitesimal leads a photographer to discover the countless creatures that live unseen in the ocean

This cross section of a sequoia in Yosemite National Park in California has markers identifying the dates of tree rings.

The Science Behind the Oldest Trees on Earth

How experts have determined that bristlecone pines, sequoias and baobabs have stood for thousands of years

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The Ten Most Significant Science Stories of 2022

From Omicron’s spread to a revelation made using ancient DNA, these were the biggest moments of the past year

On the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the bare, whitened trunks of a &ldquo;ghost forest&rdquo; are one of the effects of surging waters that turn woodland into marsh.

America's Waterways: The Past, Present and Future

Why Marshlands Are the Perfect Lab for Studying Climate Change

At the border between land and sea, an extraordinary set of experiments is helping us prepare for an uncertain future

The Maka Niu, a low-cost, customizable deep-sea observing tool is currently undergoing testing around the world, including at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts.

This Low-Cost Device Could Make the Deep Sea Accessible to Everyone

The inexpensive Maka Niu collects video and data at depths more than five times greater than trained scuba divers can go

The project started eight years ago, when artists Heidi Quante and Alicia Escott had no words to describe the anxiety they were experiencing over California&rsquo;s drought.

Art Meets Science

How Two California Artists Can Help Personalize Your Eco-Grief

Alicia Escott and Heidi Quante founded the Bureau of Linguistical Reality to create words to help describe people's feelings about climate change

The current drought reveals lost items from earlier, wetter times, like this sunken boat near Iceberg Canyon.

America's Waterways: The Past, Present and Future

The Breathtaking Glen Canyon Reveals Its Secrets

Water woes threaten America’s second largest reservoir—but leave new vistas in their wake

Burls are bark-covered growths that can protrude from a tree&rsquo;s trunk. They contain unsprouted bud tissue, and produce a wood that&rsquo;s valued for its unique grain and smooth workability.

What Is the Financial Value of an Old-Growth Tree?

In setting fines for timber poaching, experts are looking at different ways to calculate the worth of trees

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