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2023 Year in Review: Nature and Climate

To recap 2023, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we’ve covered this year.
Today we’re looking at some of the year’s big stories related to nature and climate.

New UN Agreement to Protect Open Oceans

A whale is seen breeching the ocean's surface.
On Saturday, after 10 years of difficult talks, nearly 200 countries agreed to a new United Nations treaty to protect the world’s oceans. The treaty is the first of its kind in 40 years.

UN Report Warns Rapid Climate Action Needed

A graphic showing how different global warming scenarios will affect people of different generations.
On Monday, a United Nations climate group released a major new report on climate change. The report explains that the climate crisis has become even more serious, and that massive climate action must be taken before 2030 to avoid the worst effects of the crisis.

Floating Solar Panels – Making Energy, Saving Water

Floating solar plant under construction on the Silbersee III in Haltern am See, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (2022)
Scientists have found that floating solar panels could provide a huge amount of electricity if they were placed on lakes and other bodies of water around the world. Floating solar panels could also help save water and protect land.

Massive Belt of Seaweed Floating Toward Beaches

Punta tuna beach in Puerto Rico, covered with sargassum in 2021.
A massive raft of floating seaweed called sargassum is headed toward the coasts of Mexico and the southern United States. Sargassum rafts have been growing in size every year. When they land, they cause big problems.

Wildfires Cause Serious Problems in Canada

In May 2023 wildfires in northern Alberta, Canada caused significant impact on air quality as thick smoke engulfed areas across Canada and the United States. On May, 17th, 2023, the day this photograph was taken, the Air Quality Health Index from the Government of Canada measured 10+, the highest rating possible.
Canada’s western provinces are being hit hard by wildfires. Alberta has been hit especially hard. The fires have forced thousands of people to leave their homes, and heavy smoke from the fires has spread far beyond the region.

Antarctica’s Sea Ice at a Record Winter Low

A collection of small broken ice floes near the start of the survey line of Operation IceBridge's "Seelye Loop" mission on Oct. 27, 2016. (NASA/Nathan Kurtz)
Scientists have reported that Antarctica’s sea ice is at a record low level. That’s worrying because the sea ice is an important part of the Earth’s cooling system. It’s not yet clear if the low sea ice level is temporary, or part of a changing climate pattern.

Natural Hydrogen Could Be Good Climate News

A graphic showing icons for various methods of transportation and hydrogen (represented by H2) in bubbles on a blue background.
Hydrogen is a gas that burns cleanly and produces a lot of energy. It will play an important part in tackling the climate crisis. Until recently, producing hydrogen created pollution. Now, scientists say there may be large amounts of natural hydrogen hidden underground.

Making Progress on Capturing Carbon Dioxide

A worker stands in front of Heirloom's Direct Air Capture plant.
As the world struggles to deal with the climate crisis, some companies are working to remove polluting carbon dioxide from the air. That’s a huge and challenging goal, but two US companies have recently made important progress.

Passenger Jet Crosses Atlantic on Sustainable Fuel

A Virgin Atlantic 787 passenger jet flying across the sky.
On Tuesday, Virgin Atlantic flew a large passenger jet from London to New York using 100% “Sustainable Aviation Fuel” (SAF). The flight was meant to show that it’s possible to fly using cleaner fuels, but experts disagree about the effects of SAF on the climate.

World’s Largest Iceberg is on the Move

The course of iceberg A23a from August, 2011 through November, 2023 as mapped by the NASA Earth Observatory.
The world’s largest iceberg, an icy island three times the size of New York City, has broken loose. The iceberg, called A23a, broke free from an Antarctic ice shelf in 1987, and has been grounded for over 30 years. Now it’s floating in the open ocean.



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