DUTCH TULIP FIELDS
Each year, the tulips fields in Lisse, Netherlands begin to bloom in March and are in peak bloom by late April. The Dutch produce a total of 4.32 billion tulip bulbs each year. 53% of the total harvest (2.3 billion) is grown into cut flowers. Of these, 1.3 billion (or 57%) are sold in the Netherlands as cut flowers and the remainder is exported: 630 million bulbs to Europe and 370 million elsewhere.
CALIFORNIA DROUGHT AT LAKE OROVILLE
Lake Oroville is the second largest reservoir in California, USA - a state that has suffered from a dramatic drought for the past four years. As a result of the environmental conditions, the water levels of the reservoir have decreased to 44 percent capacity. Visually, this drop is most obvious along the shorelines of the lake, where barren cliffs that were once under water have emerged. Additionally, many houseboats have been moved off the lake to a nearby storage area now that there is limited space for the boats to anchor.
"LEAVE NO TRACE" AT BURNING MAN
Burning Man is a week-long, annual event held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, USA. Drawing more than 65,000 participants each year the event is described as an experiment in community, art, self-expression, and radical self-reliance. One of Burning Man's key principles is "Leave No Trace" - meaning significant efforts are taken to make sure the desert returns to its original state in the days following the festival.
NUCLEAR DISASTER AT FUKUSHIMA
On March 11, 2011 an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 - one of the most powerful earthquakes ever measured - struck off the northeast coast of Japan. The resulting tsunami wreaked massive damage across the country, including violent swells up to 46 feet (14 meters) that rose over the seawalls at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Over the three weeks that followed the earthquake, explosions and partial nuclear meltdowns occurred in reactors 1, 2 and 3 (reactors 4, 5, and 6 were not operating when the quake struck).
In an effort to control the water that has been pumped in to cool the melted reactors, thousands of steel barrels (seen primarily in the bottom half of the 2015 Overview) have been constructed at the site to hold approximately 200 million gallons of the contaminated liquid. Yet, in 2013 Japanese officials announced that the highly radioactive coolant was leaking into the Pacific Ocean at a rate of 300 tons per day - enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week. The estimated cost for the clean-up effort is estimated at $11 billion over the next 40 years.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP
The Zaatari Refugee Camp in Mafraq, Jordan opened in July 2012 to host refugees fleeing the ongoing civil war in Syria. The population of the camp is currently estimated at 80,000.
CHINESE ISLAND BUILDING AT MISCHIEF REEF
Chinese island building over the course of 2015 is visible in the South China Sea. Dredgers - the boats you see here surrouding Mischief Reef in the Spralty Islands - pump sediment from the ocean up into floating pipes, and deposit the material onto the reef to increase land area. This enables the large-scale construction projects currently underway on the newly formed islands.