Seeking knowledge …
The Gjaidalm, at a Bronze Age grazing site in the Austrian Alps, now serves mainly as an outpost for hikers and also offers yoga classes and wellness retreats.
Global warming is radically changing the chemistry of mountain soils and some plants that rely on a specific combination of nutrients are unlikely to survive.
Wilderness as its understood in the U.S. is a relatively new concept in Austria, but resource manageres are determined to recreate wilderness in the remote mountain forests around the Dürrenstein.
Mountain pastures in Austria help ensure local food security.
Global sea ice has been at a record low extent for several months. This aerial shot of Greenland, taken from a commercial flight, shows a receding glacier along the east coast of Greenland.
I’ve been reporting on the environment for 21 years, so it’s not surprising that, even when I’m traveling on vacation, I tend to see nearly everything through a certain prism. That may be a blessing and a curse at the same time. It might be nice, every now and then, to completely tune out from the world’s problems and just live hedonistically. On the other hand, I feel like I can really connect with the people and places I’m seeing by understanding them in an environmental context. And in reality, I don’t really separate work and play all that much anymore. This past summer’s trek through the Austrian Alps to learn about climate change and sustainable mountain agriculture was a wonderful experience. Being a journalist gives me an excuse to exercise my curiosity. You can read about the environment and culture of the Austrian Alms here
, and learn more about melting Arctic ice may affect you in this story
July’s full moon rising above the Mediterranean.
St. Raphael harbor from the Ferris wheel.
Lavender fields in the Provence on the Valensole Plateau.
Splashy near Cap Roux.
Dragonfly, Pont du Loup.
From the ragged and rocky shoreline of the Côte d’Azur to nearby high plateaus and pre-alpine canyons, the Provence has always been on the European travel A-list. Yes, the big resort towns are overcrowded and overpriced, but there are plenty of quiet, hidden shoreline coves where you can enjoy a swim away from the maddening beach crowds, and there’s also plenty of “backcountry” just a few miles from the main tourist strips.
Morning alpenglow illuminates the Hallstatt Glacier in Austria’s Salzkammergut region.
Karst landscape on the Krippenstein at sunset.
The Hallstätter See from above.
Langbathsee, Upper Austria.
A late summer sojourn in the always sparkling mountain and lake country of the Salzkammergut yielded some good research material for our journalism project on climate change in the Alps and we had the opportunity to spend a night atop the Krippenstein, at an elevation of about 2,000 meters. One of the old alpine huts near the summit has been converted into a snazzy alpine lodge, The Lodge at Krippenstein, and there’s even a Colorado connection — seems Chris Davenport enjoyed a good ski session here a few years ago, and it turns out that Warren Miller has also filmed short segment in the area. The lodge is also operated as a climate friendly green business, and has won awards for its sustainable practices, and it is, of course, a great base camp for exploring this wonderful slice of the Alps.
All the pictures except one show lakes of the region, intricately tied to the Hallstattt Glacier in the upper right, which feeds the system, in turn a major headwaters tributary to the mighty Danube. The country’s glaciers are shriveling at an accelerated rate, as are it’s lakes, heating up at twice the global average. Earlier spring melt and longer, hotter summers have warmed streams, and larger rivers, even more, leading to increased fish disease and blooms of algae. Similar issues have been documented around the Alps and worldwide as clear global warming impacts. Learn more here.
Heart of Austria
Bäckerberg Sunset, Upper Austria.
Clearing storm in the Salzkammergut.
A few days in the Salzkammergut, in search of cheese produced on juicy alpine pastures, yielded this set of shots, showing that cloudy days are good days for mountain photography — as long as you can keep your camera dry. Visit our online gallery for more landscape and nature photography, where you can buy prints, postcards and more, all while supporting independent environmental journalism. More info on climate change in the Austrian mountains at our Global Warming in the Alps blog.
Tis the season …
Wouldn’t it be magical to ride the Riesenrad in a soft snowfall like this?
Who needs electric lights, anyway!
It’s getting to be that time of year, around the world, and Vienna is no exception. Many city streets are lined with small wooden booths selling Christmas goodies. Sure, there’s plenty of junk, but a few treasures to be found, as well. Call me cheesy, but a snowglobe with the Prater Riesenrad definitely makes me feel warm and fuzzy, a vibe that can be enhanced by a steaming cup of hot, spiced wine, some glowing candles and perhaps a slice of pumpkin cake, or a spicy sandwich topped with grated horseradish — trust me, it’s good!
Die Waldschänke …
Lunch – Bacon-stuffed dumplings baked with a royale and served in pan gravy.
Good times at the mall. I spoke briefly with these two gents about current events, then asked if I could snap their photo. They said, “Sure,” then followed up with a string of good-natured Austrian epithets spoken in a dialect so thick that I only understood about 20 percent.
After a few days of good old Central European gray and drizzly skies, the sun burst forth on Monday morning, so we headed up the hill to a local Waldschänke — a mountainside eatery that’s favored by hikers seeking a view over the broad Danube Valley around Linz. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t the type of place that requires hours of strenuous slogging — more like a short walk up a country lane through farmyards and orchards, just enough exercise to work up a bit of an appetite for some country cooking.
Canadian Rockies on the approach to Seattle.
Amsterdam, recognizable by its distinctive pattern of canals, seen from a flight from Iceland to Frankfurt.
Coast highway, Iceland.
Hey there, Boston!
To me, one of the coolest things about traveling the jet age is the chance to see old and new landmarks from the air. As I’ve written before, I always try to get a window seat on long flights, unless it’s a red-eye. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been fascinated by maps. I remember tracing the paths of highways and the shape of coastlines, both familiar and unknown, on the dog-eared paper versions in my dad’s car, and following along as we traveled, anticipating the towns that were coming up. Air travel gives this game a whole new dimension. On a recent trip from Reykjavik to Frankfurt, I could see that the flight would take us near Amsterdam, one of my favorite cities, so when we approached the coast of Holland, I scanned the horizon. Sure enough, I was able to recognize the city from its network of canals that encircle the ancient central district like a spiderweb. For me, watching the scenery unfold from 35,000 feet is a free geography lesson. Call me a nerd, but I love it!