Claire Harbage

It seemed like the perfect day for viewing the stunning flower-filled trees.

With warm temperatures and the sun out, crowds of people strolled under the cherry blossoms and spread out picnic blankets in Tokyo's Yoyogi Park last weekend, all but ignoring the posted signs warning of the dangers of COVID-19 spreading.

Near one of the tall white signs, two pairs of young women stood together and took selfies under the canopy of flowers, oblivious to the warnings.

Cross the treeless, frozen tundra of southwest Alaska, over ice-covered lakes and ponds near the Bering Sea, and you'll find the first community in the U.S. counted for the 2020 census.

2019 has become known as a year of protest. But this year does not exist in isolation: Protests have been emblematic of the entire past decade.

The 2010s began with the Arab Spring and Occupy protests, and are ending with a swell of anti-government demonstrations in India, Iraq, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Latin America, parts of Europe and beyond. The middle years likewise were marked by major protests on multiple continents, from Iran to Ukraine, South Korea, Zimbabwe and Greece.

Mongolia is changing. Rivers are dry. Pastureland is giving way to mines. And wintertime smog obscures the famed blue sky. How did Mongolia get here? It's a story of internal migration and economic transformation in an era of climate change.

Explore the visual narrative at https://apps.npr.org/mongolia/

The quiet of the late-winter morning is interrupted by a staccato of gunshots.

"Military drills," shrugs Kim Seung-ho, 58, the director of the DMZ Ecology Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that does research on the wildlife in the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, which is the border area between North and South Korea. A thick blanket of fog seeps over the forested hills on this late-winter morning as Kim stands, searching the horizon for birds, on the bank of the Imjin River just north of Paju, South Korea.

Photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews' newest book, Caspian: The Elements, takes the reader on a meandering journey through oil-rich central Asia following traces of natural elements such as fire, gas, salt and water in people's everyday lives. Her images work as small, fascinating stories about how the region's residents interact with their environment in surprising ways.