PLACES

A new satellite study has revealed that about three quarters of the water removed from the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since 2004 has come from underground sources, raising fears about future water supply to western USA
Iron-rich Saharan dust played a major role in the formation of the Bahamian islands, providing the nutrients necessary for specialised bacteria to produce the island chain’s carbonate-based foundation, according to a new study published in Geology
Oil palm plantations cause more damage to the environment than was previously thought, according to a new study that documents their effect on water quality
Flood-mitigation efforts on China’s Yellow River that began almost 3,000 years ago are at least partly responsible for devastating floods that have killed millions and toppled dynasties, according to a new study
Britain’s urban rivers are the cleanest they’ve been for more than 20 years, according to a 21-year study by scientists from Cardiff University
Large-scale surface melting of Greenland ice in 1889 and 2012 caused by combination of rising temperatures and Northern Hemisphere forest fire ash, not warming alone
Over the past 30 years, wildfires across the western USA have been getting bigger and more frequent, according to new research
A team of researchers at Imperial College London launches a detailed atlas of fine-scale environment and health maps for England and Wales

Fruits of the forest

Once a hotbed of political unrest, southern Kyrgyzstan is now home to an innovative ecotourism initiative based around its walnut forests
Unique study of blooming patterns of high-altitude wildflowers in the Rocky Mountains shows the plants’ response to climate change is more complex than previously believed

Diamonds are forever

Will Millard, the winner of the 2013 Journey of a Lifetime award, recalls an uncomfortable episode during his attempt to packraft down the Moro River to mark the foundation of a new peace park in Sierra Leone and Liberia
A graduate student from the University of California, Los Angeles has developed a new method for remotely measuring river flows
EU researchers develop mapping software that uses correlations of environmental and health data to identify areas that are at risk of disease outbreaks

Hung out to dry

Wetlands are vital storehouses of biodiversity and important bulwarks against the effects of climate change, while also providing livelihoods for millions of people, but they’re being lost at an increasing rate
Short-term prospects for the Aral Sea catchment in Central Asia better than previously thought

Defenders of the forest

Threats to Cambodia’s remote Cardamom forests, which offer a last refuge to numerous endangered species, have led to the formation of an unusual alliance
An international team of scientists has developed a map that identifies the areas in tropical Africa where carbon-stocking projects would provide the greatest benefits
The expansion of the Gobi desert in Central Asia was caused by the emergence of the Hangay and Altai ranges, according to a new study

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