Roofs of sod have sheltered mainland Scandinavians through countless winters and summers. But those who migrated from Norway's grass-roof log cabins to this Icelandic tundra in the 9th century found none of the rich timberland of their homeland—just wispy birch forests and grassy fields. To survive the cold, they took the old turf roof concept and built on it, encasing not only the roofs but the walls of their birch-framed homes in layers of living, insulating soil.
The turf buildings shown here are located at Skaftafell, a manor farm founded by early settlers and now part of Vatnajökull National Park. Unlike Icelanders' history, though, these huts aren't a millennium old: They date to the 19th century, when the plains in the distance began flooding and the farmers who'd made homes there were forced uphill.
Lighting the way to a new year
The Lantern Festival marks the final day of Lunar (aka Chinese) New Year celebrations, which began this year on February 12 when we ushered in the Year of the Ox. Traditionally, the day of the festival is filled with dancing, firecrackers, children's games, and food—including tangyuan, a desert made from balls of rice flour and generally loaded with sweet fillings. After sundown, celebrants gather to light or observe lanterns like the ones we see here in Chengdu, China.
Trevi in bloom
Perched high above the lush Italian countryside is Trevi, a great medieval hill town. Trevi is considered one of the prettiest and most authentic of the medieval towns that dot the Umbria region. Counts and cardinals built these communities to show off their wealth and they built them up high to keep them safe from rivals.
Surrounding Trevi is a rock wall built around 2,000 years ago. From there, it's a winding walk up through cobblestone streets and squares lined with churches and other buildings from the Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance eras. Flowers spill from window boxes and markets fill with local goods, including black truffles, black celery, asparagus, and olive oil, said to be among the best in all of Italy. We recommend stopping for a classic Umbrian meal (with a local red wine) before making your way to the top of Trevi to take in views of the lush countryside below. Francis of Assisi loved this area so much, he wandered it by foot for years. And is it any wonder? From here, you can see olive groves covering the mountainsides and dense forests where the elusive black truffles grow.
Getting to the bottom of the underwater waterfall
From this vantage point high over the Indian Ocean, we have a spectacular view of the 'underwater waterfall' formed off the coast of Mauritius. Not a true waterfall, this is an optical illusion—it's really the trails of sand and silt deposits on the seafloor being washed by ocean currents through an opening between coral reefs. But we're probably not alone in thinking at first glance that the ocean is pouring into some massive unseen drainpipe.
Our viewpoint also offers a clear look at the huge basalt monolith in the distance towering over the peninsula called Le Morne Brabant. Originally uninhabited by humans, the island of Mauritius became an important stopover in the slave trade by the 18th century. Some slaves managed to escape while on the island and made their way to the many caves and overhangs on the steep slopes of Le Morne. There, these 'maroons' hid from slave traders and eventually formed enough settlements that Mauritius became popularly known as the Maroon Republic, and Le Morne a symbol of the slaves' resistance, suffering, and sacrifice.
Holding back the tide
Shrugging off choppy waters on England’s south-west coast is the historic harbour and breakwater known as the Cobb. There has been one man-made structure or another in the waters off Lyme Regis since medieval times, without which much of this Dorset town may have been washed away. While its harbour seems small to modern eyes, Lyme Regis grew as a major port and shipbuilding centre from the 13th century onwards, thanks to the Cobb and the protection it offered from fierce south-westerly gales.
The long, curving High Wall featured in our homepage image offers a great lookout spot from which to enjoy panoramic views of this stretch of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site famous for its fossils. This section, built in Portland Stone, dates back to the 1820s and famously features in a scene with Meryl Streep’s character in The French Lieutenant’s Woman. If you choose to follow in her footsteps, be warned: The Cobb can be as treacherous as it is breathtaking, even when waves are not crashing against it. Algae can make its surface slippery and there is no handrail to grab if you lose your footing, so choose a calm day to enjoy a stroll along the top and even then, tread carefully.
An important port of Portugal
Welcome to Porto, the second city of Portugal. Known on some English-language maps as Oporto (the Portuguese call it 'o Porto' in conversation, meaning simply 'the Port'), this attractive, ancient city is most famous today not for the port itself but for what's shipped out of it.
Follow this river, the Douro, east out of the city and you'll soon enter a valley flanked by vineyard-covered embankments. This long, narrow wine country is where world-renowned port wine is produced: A smooth, typically red wine fortified with a grape brandy to halt fermentation, resulting in a sweeter beverage. Douro valley vintners send their product downriver to Porto, from which it ships off to dessert tables worldwide. To be called port, the wine must come from the Douro valley—a stipulation dating to the 1750s—making the area one of the world's oldest protected wine regions.
Ansel Adams' enduring vision
Of all the camera-wielding luminaries who've snapped this eastward view of Yosemite Valley, few can hold a 'candela' to Ansel Adams, born this day in 1902. The legendary photographer of Western landscapes was given his first camera here in Yosemite as a boy. The national park was his favorite place in the world, and he returned every year for the rest of his life.
Adams' style is one of the most recognizable in photography: Bright whites against deep blacks, with high horizon lines that leave most of the frame filled with landscape, a narrow lens aperture placing every tiny detail in biting focus. Unlike many photographers of the day who considered themselves more journalist than artist, Adams was a visionary: Instead of plainly documenting what he saw, Adams aimed to convey the enchantment, awe, and terror his beloved landscapes made him feel, spending hours in the darkroom fine-tuning exposures to match what he visualized. 'Clearing Winter Storm'—the photo that today's image pays tribute to—was taken around 1937, depicting ominous clouds gathering around El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall, whiting out the distant peak of Half Dome.
While Adams had to lug bulky box cameras and light meters into the wilderness to capture his vision, chances are you've got the whole setup in your pocket. Why not grab that phone of yours, venture outside, and celebrate this legendary shutterbug's birthday with some masterful nature snaps of your own?
亚当斯的风格是摄影界公认的最具代表性的风格之一：明亮的白色与深黑的对比，高水平的线条让大部分画面充满了风景，狭窄的镜头光圈将每一个微小的细节都置于扣人心弦的焦点。与当时许多认为自己更像记者而不是艺术家的摄影师不同，亚当斯是一个有远见的人：他没有简单地记录他所看到的一切，而是致力于传达他所钟爱的风景带给他的魅力、敬畏和恐惧，他花了数小时在暗室微调曝光，以符合他所想象的《清冬风暴》（Clearing Winter Storm）——这张今天的照片是在1937年左右拍摄的，描绘了不祥的云层聚集在埃尔卡皮坦（El Capitan）和布里达尔维尔瀑布（Bridalveil Fall）周围，使远处的半圆顶峰黯然失色。
A river runs through it
In just a few months it'll be warm enough to perch for a while on this smooth river rock, dangle your feet into the water, and take in this gorgeous Swiss scenery. We're here in the Valle Verzasca, a valley in Ticino, Switzerland, close to the Italian border. There in the near distance is the tiny hamlet of Lavertezzo, where most everyone speaks Italian. Tourists normally flock to this area in warm summer months to swim and snorkel in the river's famous turquoise waters and to jump off the 17th century double-arched bridge known as the Ponte dei Salti (Bridge of Jumps). The very, very brave bungee jump off the nearby Contra dam, made famous in the 1995 James Bond film 'GoldenEye.'
再过几个月，这里就会暖和起来，可以在这光滑的河石上栖息一会儿，把你的脚吊入水中，欣赏这美丽的瑞士景色。我们现在在瑞士提契诺的一个山谷，靠近意大利边境。在不远处有一个小村庄拉维特佐，那里大多数人都说意大利语。游客通常在温暖的夏季涌向这一地区，在著名的绿松石河水中游泳和浮潜，并从被称为Ponte dei Salti（跳跃桥）的17世纪双拱桥上跳下。从附近的康特拉水坝上非常非常勇敢的蹦极跳下，在1995年詹姆斯·邦德的电影《黄金眼》中成名
The persistence of Perito Moreno
Yes, it's true that glaciers are shrinking, but not all of them. Perito Moreno, a low-lying glacier in southern Argentina, accumulates ice at about the same rate that it melts into chilly Argentino Lake. This equilibrium makes it one of the few glaciers worldwide that aren't losing mass to climate change.
Perito Moreno is an Argentine icon, partly for its unusual accessibility via the lake, the largest within the nation. Visitors to Los Glaciares National Park can boat or kayak out on ice-blue water for a better look—but they need to keep a safe distance as icebergs constantly calve from the glacier's face, creating huge splashes and waves.