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Monsoon season in southern Asia has begun, and in India the rains arrived ahead of schedule, easing drought concerns. Monsoon rains can be disruptive and even deadly, but crucial for the farmers whose crops feed millions of people. Though concerns for flooding are prevalent, the arrival of the rains brings colorful celebrations and relief from the heat every year. -Leanne Burden Seidel (32 photos total)
An Indian buffalo herder holding a traditional handmade umbrella stands in a field to keep watch of his buffaloes as monsoon clouds hover above in Bhubaneswar, India, on June 13, 2013. (Biswaranjan Rout/Associated Press)     

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Using hand-recorded shipping data from the Climatological Database for the World's Oceans, history graduate student Ben Schmidt mapped a century of ocean shipping, between 1750 and 1850. The above map animates a seasonal aggregate.

There aren't many truly seasonal events, but a few stand out. There are regular summer voyages from Scotland to Hudson's Bay, and from Holland up towards Spitsbergen, for example: both these appear as huge convoys moving in sync. (What were those about?) Trips around Cape Horn, on the other hand, are extremely rare in July and August. More interestingly, the winds in the Arabian sea seem to shift directions in November or so. I also really like the way this one brings across the conveyor belt nature of trade with the East.

The bobbing month label is distracting, but its position actually does mean something. Since seasonality (i.e. weather) plays a role in travels, the label represents noontime location of the sun in Africa. Okay, I'm still not sure if that's actually useful.

If you really must, you can also watch the century of individual shipments during a 12-minute video.

By the way, Schmidt used R to make this, relying heavily on the mapproj and ggplot2 packages. (Bet you didn't see that coming.) I think he created a bunch of images and then strung them together to make the animation.

[via Revolutions]

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Four hundred miles above the Earth’s surface, for nearly 40 years, Landsat satellites have collected data for the U.S. Geological Survey, for use in scientific research. “Earth as Art 3,” an exhibit on display at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., offers an opportunity to celebrate the more dramatic images for their artistic value rather than their data value.

The latest satellite, Landsat 7, uses an instrument that collects seven images at once, with each image showing a specific part of the electromagnetic spectrum, called a band. Humans cannot see light outside the visible spectrum, but satellites are able to detect wavelengths into the ultraviolet and infrared. The original images are acquired in black and white, so color must be assigned via computer. The three primary colors of light are red, green and blue, and each color is given a different band/image. Once the three images are combined, you will have what is called a “false color image.” One common combination shows green, healthy vegetation as bright red, which is handy in forestry and agricultural applications. Landsat images are used to gather all kinds of geological and hydrological data and for other types of environmental monitoring.


The Erongo Massif, an isolated, sheer-walled mountain that rises 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) above arid Namibian plains. The massif is a remnant of a gigantic volcano that was active roughly 150 million years ago. At some point, the volcano’s center collapsed in upon itself under the weight of overlying lava. Eons of erosion by wind and wind-blown sand gradually exposed the long-dead volcano’s core of granite and basalt.


Oxbow lakes and cutoffs accompany the Mississippi river south of Memphis, Tennessee, on the border between Arkansas and Mississippi, USA.


Much of Oman is desert, but the Arabian Sea coast in the Dhofar region represents a marked difference. This coastal region catches the monsoon rains, or khareef, during the summer months. Drenching rains fall primarily on the mountainous ridge that separates the lush, fertile areas along the coast from the arid interior, feeding streams, waterfalls, and springs that provide water in the fertile lowlands for the remainder of the year.


Massive congregations of greenish phytoplankton swirl in the dark water around Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic Sea. Phytoplankton are microscopic marine plants that form the first link in nearly all ocean food chains.


After beginning in northern British Columbia and flowing through Yukon in Canada, the Yukon River crosses Alaska, USA, before emptying into the Bering Sea.

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AWAITING ROMNEY
AWAITING ROMNEY: A worker waited for Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to tour Gregory Industries during a campaign stop in Canton, Ohio, Monday. Ohio is one of 10 states that will hold primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

BANDAGED
BANDAGED: A woman was treated at a hospital Monday in Brazzaville, Congo, after an explosion at a munitions depot killed more than 200 people and trapped hundreds in debris Sunday. Detonations still shook the capital Monday and fire threatened a second arms depot. (Marc Hofer/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

VIBRANT COLOR
VIBRANT COLOR: Spanish bullfighter Juan Jose Padilla performed during a bullfight in Olivenza, Spain, Sunday. Mr. Padilla, who lost sight in one eye and has partial facial paralysis after being gored, returned to the bullring months after his injury. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/Associated Press)

TOPPED OFF
TOPPED OFF: An officer put a cap on a paramilitary recruit’s head as they take participated in a training session at a military base in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China, Monday. (Leo Lang/Reuters)

MONKEY BY THE SEA
MONKEY BY THE SEA: A girl walked with her pet monkey on a promenade along the Arabian Sea in Mumbai Monday. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

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FLOOD AFTERMATH
FLOOD AFTERMATH: A resident shoveled mud out of her window in the village of Biser, southern Bulgaria, Tuesday. A dam burst Monday after days of heavy rain, sending a torrent surging through a village. The region’s toll from flooding is eight dead, with 10 missing. (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters)

BIG FISH
BIG FISH: Fishermen used cranes to pull the carcass of a whale shark from the water in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday. The 40-foot whale shark was found dead in Arabian Sea. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

ATHENS ANGER
ATHENS ANGER: Riot police arrested a protester outside Parliament in Athens Tuesday. Thousands protested against the threat of yet more spending cuts and tax increases as talks continued over a new bailout agreement and debt restructuring. (Alkis Konstantinidis/European Pressphoto Agency)

BURNING THROUGH CASH
BURNING THROUGH CASH: Tons of shredded and compressed banknotes were unloaded from a truck at the Foundation to Help Autism in Miskolc, Hungary, Tuesday. Hungary is the only country to recycle its worn cash for fuel each year. The bricks are then sent to a few charities. (Laszlo Balogh/Reuters)

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diversity is everywhere in India, from its religions and languages to its economy, and climates. The second-most populous nation in the world, India is home to more than 1.2 billion people. Most are Hindu, but seven other religions -- including Islam, Christianity and Sikhism -- make up nearly 20 percent of the population. January 26 will be India's 62nd Republic Day, marking the date in 1950 when the country's constitution came into force. Collected here are recent photos from across the vast nation, offering only a small glimpse of the people and diversity of India. [41 photos]

Indian soldiers from the Border Security Forces atop camels stand at attention in front of the Presidential Palace during a ceremony in preparation for the annual Beating Retreat in New Delhi, India, on January 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

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The New York Times- The use of air power has changed markedly during the long Afghan conflict, reflecting the political costs and sensitivities of civilian casualties caused by errant or indiscriminate strikes and the increasing use of aerial drones, which can watch over potential targets for extended periods with no risk to pilots or more [...]

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BY A NOSE
BY A NOSE: Christophe Lemaire, top, rode Dunaden to victory at the Melbourne Cup in Australia Tuesday. Mr. Lemaire beat Michael Rodd on Red Cadeaux. (Racing Victoria/Reuters)

SUN AND SEA
SUN AND SEA: A Hindu woman prayed to the sun god in the Arabian Sea during the Chhath Festival in Mumbai Tuesday. (Danish Siddiqui/Reuters)

BENEFITS BACKLASH
BENEFITS BACKLASH: An elderly woman fought with a police officer during a protest in front of Ukrainian Parliament in Kiev Tuesday. About 1,000 people who assisted with the Chernobyl nuclear cleanup were outraged at planned benefit cuts. (Sergey Polezhaka/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

NO TREAT
NO TREAT: Children dressed in Halloween costumes looked at a crime scene in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday. A municipal police officer and his mother were shot dead at her house by hit men, according to local media. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

HELD BACK
HELD BACK: Police detained a Tibetan protester who shouted anti-China slogans in Kathmandu, Nepal, Tuesday. (Niranjan Shrestha/Associated Press)

SHIPSHAPE
SHIPSHAPE: A welder stood on the unfinished hull of a ship in Taizhou, Zhejiang Province, China, Tuesday. (Jia Ce/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

AT A LOSS
AT A LOSS: Angolan asylum-seeker Mauro Manuel cried during a rally in The Hague Tuesday. The Dutch Parliament denied the asylum seeker’s request. His mother put him on a plane in 2003 for a better future. A Dutch family took him in. (Koen Van Weel/European Pressphoto Agency)

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