Earth Observatory Blog

Submitted on 05 May 2017 by:

Different rainforest trees grow on an island called Siberut; one of four big islands of the Mentawai Archipelago located off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Katuka is what Mentawaians call one family of these dipterocarp trees. These trees have very hard wood and are widely used for construction and crafting.

I want to tell you the story of one katuka tree in particular. This 400-year-old tree will soon surrender its life to serve the needs of the people. 

A Giant Falls

As the sun rises over Siberut Island, a Mentawaian called Aman Ani and his fellow villagers sharpen their axes. They prepare their meals, as well as an offering for the forest spirits. Later, they sit quietly in a motorised canoe as they cruise upstream. Some of them are...

Submitted on 21 Apr 2017 by:

In honour of Earth Day, I’m calling attention to the reality of climate change around the world. We know that the planet’s climate is warming from many data sources. Ice cores, corals, ocean sediments, and tree rings tell the story of Earth’s climate over the past 800,000 years. Orbital satellites, sea surface temperature readings, and weather stations have recorded change over the past century. They all say the same thing: the planet is warming at an extraordinary rate.

Last year was the hottest on record. It’s the third year in a row to set a new high for the yearly...