I always look forward to what I’ll learn in each new Eos issue, as much as I hope all of you do. This month, I was fascinated to find out that the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) is, as its name humbly implies, the tallest structure in South America—at 325 meters, it overtops Paris’s Eiffel Tower by a full meter.
The ATTO helps scientists study the dust (drifting over from the Sahara desert) that provides nutrients to the Amazon basin. In “Africa’s Earth, Wind, and Fire Keep the Amazon Green,” read more about how the extreme ecosystems—the world’s largest tropical rain forest and the world’s largest hot desert—are connected. Researchers are learning more about how changing smoke and wind patterns will affect these climates.
Our April issue is all about the Amazon, and we drift from the wind down into the soil in “The Nutrient-Rich Legacy in the Amazon’s Dark Earths.” It seems rare to learn about human impact—and by that I mean our famous ability to create garbage wherever we are—that leaves an environment better than how we found it.
Terra preta soils are one fascinating example of such an instance, which most researchers call anthrosols due to their origins. Although terra preta has been identified on several continents, it’s been found widely at hundreds of archaeological sites in the Amazon basin. Geologists, soil biogeochemists, paleoecologists, ethnoecologists, and archaeologists from around the world have worked with Indigenous colleagues to study how this “extraordinarily fertile” soil came to be and, perhaps, how it could be replicated today.
More than the Amazon, you might say we have a bit of a landscape theme this month, as we leave Earth for a moment to study the ripples on Mars. Timothy N. Titus and colleagues wrote “Planetary Dunes Tell of Otherworldly Winds,” and you must head over not only for their fascinating descriptions but also for the beautiful images of these formations.
We’re pleased to cap off April with another crossword brainteaser from our friend Russ Colson (see page 48). See you next month!
—Heather Goss (@heathermg), Editor in Chief, Eos