This is one of the world's tallest trees; and this is the arborist who climbed it

Scientists have identified what is likely one of the world's tallest trees, a 330.7-foot (100.8 meter) yellow meranti tree in the rainforest on the island of Borneo. They spotted the tree growing in the Malaysian state of Sabah during an aerial laser scan of the forest. The rainforest is protected yet Yellow meranti trees are are highly endangered because they're relentlessly chopped down in other parts of Borneo for construction use. To accurately measure the tree, arborist Unding Jami of the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership climbed it with a tape measure in hand. From National Geographic:

What was it like to climb?

I knew it would feel very exposed [to climb], like you are just hanging in the air. There were really strong winds and a Colugo (flying lemur) nest! It was flying all around as we were trying to shoot the line up into the tree.

It took me 15 attempts to shoot that line 86 meters (282 feet) up to the lowermost branches. Honestly, I almost gave up. We were so lucky to be able to finally shoot the rope over the lower branch.

Once we had the rope up I took nearly an hour to climb up to 86 meters. And then another two hours from there to get to the top to take the final measurement. That last two hours the wind was very strong, and it rained, which slowed me down...

It’s not easy work to do. I climb up slowly, checking the trunk every meter for centipedes, snakes, and things.

Read the rest

Watch this beautiful visualization of the sounds of the Amazon rainforest

Multimedia artist Andy Thomas translated the soundscapes of the Amazon rainforest into a mesmerizing 3D animation titled the Visual Sounds of the Amazon. He and Reynier Omena Junior made their field recordings in 2016 around Presidente Figueiredo in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. The result, he says, is "a symbolic representation of nature’s collision with technology.”

"What I've realized is that people have compassion fatigue these days," Thomas says. "They hear about the destruction of rainforests and decimation of species across the world, and they become numb to it."

From Smithsonian:

Thomas uses the animation software Houdini to bring sounds into sight. Unlike Adobe Photoshop, which is a layer-based program (effects are applied to a background like a stack of pages), Houdini is a node-based software. This means that the final image is a product of the interaction of a network or web of effects.

Using this program, Thomas creates an abstract form for each creature and layers it with a series of effects—selected as he thinks about the birds' coloring, nests, habitat and even diet. Many of the animations focus on the male birds' coloring, since they are often the ones to sport the most outlandish tones and patterns. Then he feeds in the animal recording, which activates particular parts of this complicated framework, converting the sequence of sounds into a pulsing, writhing burst of color. Though the bird calls are clearly the featured sound, every tick and trill in the background of the recording influences the final shape...

Read the rest