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Hurricane Isaac captured the country’s attention last month as it lumbered across Florida and raked over New Orleans, impacting millions of people.
Whimbrels are unusual-looking birds, about the size of a chicken with long legs, brown upperparts and black head stripes. This summer, the CCB researchers made their own journey to the Mackenzie Delta, where they tagged a number of whimbrels at their nesting grounds. Pingo was the nickname of the bird whose fate was being followed by many birders as, after several days of nonstop flight, she encountered the winds of Isaac. If we needed a lesson about how conservation policies in one part of the world affect nature in another, Pingo and her feathered friends delivered it. National Geographic VoicesResearchers, conservationists, and others around the world share stories and commentary on the National Geographic Society's conversation platform Voices. Society Field Inspection 2016: Gulf of CaliforniaDescribed by Jacques Cousteau as the "aquarium of the world," the Gulf of California in Mexico is threatened by coastal development, climate change, and other human activities.
Support National GeographicWe've supported more than 11,000 grants to scientists and others in the field.Learn more about our work. Two years after being discovered deep in a South African cave, the 1,500 fossils excavated during the Rising Star Expedition have been identified as belonging to a previously unknown early human relative that National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger and team have named Homo naledi. With at least 15 individuals of all ages and both sexes represented, the find adds an unprecedented amount of information to our understanding of early human evolution in Africa. In addition, the absence of any other animal remains or large debris in the fossil chamber strongly suggests that these non-human beings intentionally deposited their dead within this cave. La Ceiba, Honduras, September 4, 2007—A palm tree sways during heavy rain as Hurricane Felix approaches the city. Felix made landfall in northern Nicaragua and coastal Honduras as a Category 5 storm with winds up to 160 miles (260 kilometers) an hour, before weakening into a tropical storm. The storm tore off the roofs of houses, uprooted trees and killed four people in Nicaragua, Reuters reported. Even though it has now weakened to a tropical storm, Felix is expected to dump up to 25 inches (64 centimeters) of rain on Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. As Atlantic hurricane season heats up, storms could send toxic hydrocarbons lingering from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill surging inland, scientists say.
Could pollutants from the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico end up as far north as New England?
That could happen if a hurricane or tropical storm hits the Gulf region and moves northward. Geochemist Sid Mitra, from East Carolina University, is studying how far hydrocarbons, released as the oil breaks apart -- and some of them toxic--, can reach inland. Theya€™re sampling air and water BEFORE a hurricane strikes, then will return during and after a hurricane or tropical storm to take more readings.
The midnight Arctic sun never strays from the horizon in this time-exposed shot of Nunavut's Baffin Island. Crew members on the space shuttle Atlantis captured this view of Hurricane Gordon in September 2006.


India's monsoon rains, seen here lashing palm trees in Trivandrum, Kerala, bring needed water and welcome relief from the long, hot dry season. Grenada's clear waters and warm temperatures draw visitors to the Caribbean island year-round. Great Salt Lake's water level fluctuates dramatically due to seasonal shifts in inflow water volume and the rate of evaporation.
Death Valley, seen here in a satellite image, is scorching—summer temperatures may top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). National Geographic explores how we can feed the growing population without overwhelming the planet in our food series. Get up close with some of the world's most fascinating underground communities, from gangs to cults to organized crime families. As the global population soars toward nine billion by 2045, this corner of Africa shows what's at stake in the decades ahead.
La mareggiata causata dall'uragano Ivan riesce a superare questo sbarramento vicino a Pensacola, Florida.
But before Isaac had even reached land, indeed while it was still not even a hurricane, many in the birding world were watching a single bird struggling against its high winds.
After departing the Northwest Territories, the birds beat their way eastward all the way across northern Canada to the Maritime Provinces on the east coast, refueled, and headed straight out to sea on a bearing toward Africa.
Whimbrels can continue breeding only if they have healthy ecosystems in their two nesting regions—one that extends from the Mackenzie Delta to Alaska, and the other from the Hudson Bay to northern Manitoba and Ontario. Jeff Wells is a science advisor to the Pew Environment Group’s International Boreal Conservation Campaign. Posters and commenters are required to observe National Geographic's community rules and other terms of service. To learn firsthand what's going on in and around this marine treasure of global importance, the National Geographic Society sent its top scientists and officials to the region in January 2016. Some parts of Nunavut endure 24 hours of light from late April until late August and 24 hours of darkness from late October until mid-February. Though the storm appears benign from above, its sustained winds howled at some 80 miles an hour (130 kilometers an hour). Tornadoes are classified according to their wind speeds, from weak F0 tornadoes with 40 to 72 mph (64 to 116 kph) winds, to ferocious F6s, with 319 to 379 mph (513 to 610 kph) winds. The arc, which is created when sunlight is refracted and reflected by water in the air, displays all the colors of visible light. Malta enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate characterized by damp and cool winters and warm, dry summers. The region's open grasslands are characterized by a dry climate and large temperature shifts between extreme heat and cold.
The Utah lake is a closed basin with no outlet for water, so floods like those of the mid-1980s can be severe and destructive.
The powerful storms of late winter and early spring often scour the nation's lowest point—the Qattara Depression. The region is so dry that it receives more moisture from ocean fog than from its meager allotment of annual rainfall.


The coastal desert occupies a long strip between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains.
Temperate climates, like that of the Baltic Sea, experience four very distinct seasons each year.
Broadleaf plants shed their leaves each year in preparation for winter, but variable temperatures and moisture determine how spectacular each annual show will be. I say “watching,” but in reality we were looking at regularly updated maps from the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) showing the location of the bird—a whimbrel—provided by a small satellite transmitter affixed to its back. Whimbrels are birds of the shore, seen in North America feeding in salt marshes, on beaches, and on other intertidal marine coastlines.
One bird made a nonstop, 146-hour journey from the coast of Georgia 3,600 miles north to the Mackenzie Delta. They flew day and night, one of them for six days, until the westward winds pushed them to South America.
They toured the desert islands off the southeastern coast of the Baja Peninsula and they listened to presentations by more than a dozen experts, including several whose Baja California research is funded by the Society.
Despite these challenges, some plants and animals are able to adapt to Death Valley's inhospitable climate. They are a surviving reminder of their smaller closest cousin, the Eskimo curlew, a bird now thought to be extinct; the last known individual was shot in Barbados in 1963.
In the fall, the tagged birds made similarly spectacular flights, to mangrove wetlands of the Caribbean and northern South America. Since she was captured and tagged in June in the Mackenzie Delta, Pingo has traveled more than 8,000 miles. The Pew Environment Group and Canadian partners are working to protect these wetland habitats in the boreal forest and set standards for responsible development. On the way, they flew hundreds of miles over open ocean, often encountering hurricanes and tropical storms. The North American whimbrel population was estimated at 57,000 individuals in 2000, but their migration routes and timing were not well-understood.
A few years ago, a CCB research team began catching spring migrant whimbrels along the southeastern U.S. Sadly though, two that had the tenacity to make it through hurricanes and tropical storms were shot and killed within days of arriving on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where a tradition of shorebird hunting continues. And although many wetlands where whimbrels winter in the Caribbean and coastal South America are under threat, migration studies like those described here put a spotlight on the places that need to be protected first. Let’s hope the amazing journeys of Pingo and her fellow whimbrels will make it easier to garner the public support in all nations to maintain the healthy ecosystems that we all need to survive.



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