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Rivers Need a Thorough Health Exam

Rivers are the blue arteries of the Earth. Their flows deliver sediment and nutrients to floodplains, deltas and coastal zones, some of the most biologically productive ecosystems on the planet.  They connect and sustain the web of life. So it might be surprising that globally we don’t systematically monitor their health.  Imagine damming and diverting…

September 21, 2014: Living At Sea for 3 Years, Uncovering The Largest Ever Carnivore and More

This week on National Geographic Weekend radio, join host Boyd Matson and his guests as they live on the world’s oceans for three years, create the largest marine protected area, road trip down a historical highway, protect power grids from hackers, eat our way through Rome, find the world’s meanest dinosaur ever, tear down dams, spy on cats, and teach our kids to be wild again.

“DamNation” Film Wins Enviro Prize and Shines Light on Dam Removal

“Dams represented a pivotal part of U.S. development, but like many things we took it too far,” Ben Knight says in the new documentary film DamNation. Knight narrated, edited, and co-directed the film, which takes a provocative look at the recent movement to remove old and outdated dams, to restore natural river systems. Produced by…

New Film Highlights Hydropower Dams and Food Security Concerns in Cambodia

Scientists and conservation experts are urging the government of Cambodia to put a moratorium on the development of hydropower dams, and now Conservation International has released a new short film, Hydropower Impacts and Alternatives, that takes a closer look at the issues surrounding the dam construction in the 3-S basin within the Greater Mekong River System. There is…

Flooding the Grand Canyon to Restore It

On November 11, officials from the U.S. Department of Interior started a “high-flow experimental release” from Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona. Instead of the dam’s normal flow rate of 5,000 to 8,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) downstream, the dam released about 34,100 cfs for 96 hours. This was the second high release on…

Moratorium Needed on Mekong River Dams

Few development schemes pose more serious risks to food security, fisheries, and aquatic ecosystems than the construction of proposed hydropower dams on the main channel of the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. Three years ago, in an environmental assessment of those proposed dams, the Mekong River Commission – the body that oversees regional cooperation in…

Not-so-Clean Hydropower is Damming Us All

By Natalie Anderson While I was in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories (NT), Canada, this summer observing and measuring wood floating down the Slave River for my dissertation work on Mackenzie River driftwood, I attended a local town hall meeting facilitated by Alberta member of Parliament Linda Duncan about what the town of Fort Smith can…

What Will Happen to Turkish Villagers in the Path of a Giant Dam?

The final dispatch from NG Young Explorer Julia Harte and team member Anna Ozbek examines the lives of villagers who have already been displaced by hydroelectric dams in Southeastern Turkey — and what they portend for residents of the 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf, soon to be submerged by the Ilısu Dam.

5 Myths About China and the Environment

Text and photos by Sean Gallagher I have spent the past seven years traveling across China, documenting some of the most pressing crises affecting the world’s most populous nation. I’ve climbed glaciers, ridden across deserts, crawled through wetlands, and walked through sandstorms, all in an effort to try to understand the complex environmental issues facing…

Rare Footage of Ilısu: The Dam That Will Flood Homes and History Across Southern Turkey

NG Young Explorer Julia Harte and team member Anna Ozbek visit the construction site of the Ilısu Dam, a 1,200 MW hydroelectric dam whose reservoir will displace at least 25,000 people and flood hundreds of archeological sites across Southeastern Turkey.

Turkish Town Has Hosted 12,000 Years of Human History & Stunning Biodiversity

Almost nowhere in the world is human history as densely layered as it is in Hasankeyf. Strange sights greet its visitors: thousands of caves carved into limestone cliffs, children playing on the remains of a gargantuan medieval bridge, the towering minaret of a 15th-century mosque. Explore the ancient Turkish town with NG Young Explorer Julia Harte and team member Anna Ozbek.

The Mystery of the Migrating Fishes: Northern Adventures in the Great Lakes

Dr. Solomon David, Postdoctoral Research Associate Daniel P. Haerther Center for Conservation & Research, Shedd Aquarium Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison I had received word from colleagues that northern pike (Esox lucius), an apex predator in freshwaters throughout the northern hemisphere, had begun migrating inland from Lake Michigan, and I had come to track…

A New Check-Up on the Health of U.S. Rivers

Thanks in large part to the Clean Water Act, many rivers in the United States are cleaner now than when Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught fire on a Sunday morning in June 1969. But the vast majority of the nation’s rivers and streams still do not measure up as healthy. According to a new assessment by…

Geography in the News: Ethiopia’s Dam Projects

By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, Geography in the NewsTM ETHIOPIA’S CAPTURE OF THE BLUE NILE In addition to Egypt’s latest political turmoil, its government is extremely worried about Ethiopia’s newest dam on the headwaters of the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile is the leading source of water for the north-flowing Nile. Fears in…

Meet Some of the Rare Cultures Sustained by Iraqi Kurdistan’s Rivers

NG Young Explorer Julia Harte and team member Anna Ozbek interview members of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Yazidi, Mandean, and Armenian populations about their relationship with the rivers that traverse northern Iraq — and their fears about future water security.