伸向天空 Stretching to the sky
Quiver trees in Namibia
The quiver trees pictured on our homepage are uniquely suited to Namibia's hot, dry climate. They are not trees at all, but an endangered species of aloe plant. These succulents can grow up to 30 feet tall and live for 200 years. The name comes from the Indigenous San people who made quivers out of the plant's tube-shaped branches to hold their arrows while hunting. You can see scattered quiver trees across southern Namibia, but for sheer numbers, head to the Quiver Tree Forest, where more than 200 of these distinctive plants grow among dolerite rock formations outside the city of Keetmanshoop. In June and July, during Namibia's winter, you can see the plant's flowers in bright, yellow bloom.
什么生长得这样茂盛？ What's blooming so brightly?
Blooms of phytoplankton in the Chukchi Sea
Hundreds of shades of blue are marbled together in this cool shot. No, it's not a work of modern art, it's right off the brush of nature. This is a satellite photo of phytoplankton blooming near Alaska as the cool, salty Chukchi Sea mingles with warmer, fresher water closer to shore.
But just what are phytoplankton? They're microscopic sun-powered organisms that float near the surface of the ocean, drifting with the currents. In fact, their name derives from the Greek 'phyton' for plant and 'planktos' for wanderer or drifter. Delicious and nutritious to various creatures living in oceans and estuaries, they're also vital to everyone on Earth: Phytoplankton are responsible for about half of the world's photosynthesis, the sun-powered process that takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen.
We're talking phytoplankton today in honor of Earth Science Week, an international event encouraging all of us to learn about or even devote our life to the Earth sciences. This year's theme is 'Earth Science for a Sustainable World,' emphasizing science's role in sustaining our planet. So, time to dust off that microscope, visit your local science museum, or perhaps just learn more about beautiful, swirling phytoplankton.