Researchers have investigated the consequences of smelling the sorts of odors present in deserts when it rains. Nabhan, Daugherty, and Hartung found that “Desert dwellers know it well: the smell of rain and the feeling of euphoria that comes when a storm washes over the parched earth. That feeling, and the health benefits that come with it, may be the result of oils and other chemicals released by desert plants after a good soaking. . . .
Zu, Jiang, and Zhao evaluated preferences for landscapes that varied by season. They report that “Seasonality is a typical feature of landscapes in temperate regions. Seasonality’s effects on visual aesthetic quality (VAQ) are widely recognised but not well understood. . . . 10 sample sites were selected to represent the diversity of urban green spaces in Xuzhou, eastern China, which has a typical temperate monsoon climate. Photographs of the 10 sites were acquired in eight typical months to capture seasonality. Online surveys were used to evaluate the VAQ of the photographs. . . .
Flouri and teammates set out to learn how physical environments influence decisions made by children. They report that “This study used the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study to investigate the role of greenness of the child’s immediate residential area at ages 9 months and 3, 5, 7, and 11 years in reward and punishment sensitivity, measured using the Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT), at age 11 years. Our sample was the children who lived in urban areas at all five time-points and with data on the CGT at the fifth. . . .
Bettering lives, now and in the future
Researchers from the University of Exeter have identified some benefits of playing outdoors and their findings can be used to encourage the development and maintenance of outdoor play areas for children. The investigators report, in a study published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development, that “children who spend more time playing outside had fewer ‘internalising problems’ – characterised as anxiety and depression. Those children were also more positive during the first lockdown. . . .
Brochu and collaborators studied links between how green an area is and the death rates of residents. They “conducted a nationwide [in the United States] quantitative health impact assessment to estimate the predicted reduction in mortality associated with an increase in greenness across two decades (2000, 2010, and 2019).
Using the Outdoor Recreation Valuation Tool (ORVal), developed at the University of Exeter, researchers have determined the values of parks, beaches, and other green spaces in the United Kingdom. The investigators found that “small parks deliver ‘pound for pound’ the highest recreation value, and that good access to quality green spaces, the weather and dog ownership are key drivers of increased outdoor recreation. . . . Large country parks and beaches are generally the most valuable green spaces.
Macaulay lead a team that investigated mindfulness in nature settings. The researchers report that “Before and after a 20-minute outdoor experience, participants . . . completed surveys. . . . Participants were randomly allocated to one of four engagement intervention groups: mindful engagement, directed engagement, mind wandering, and an unguided control group. . . . the unguided control group had the greatest level of attention restoration. . . . .
Grabalov and Nordh investigated future roles for current cemeteries. They share that “the role of cemeteries in cities under densification pressure, such as Oslo and Copenhagen, is shifting. . . . cemeteries have the potential to become more public in the future. Based on the empirical material, we expect the cemeteries in these cities to maintain their spiritual dimension while becoming . . . more multifunctional and more multicultural. Over time, their role could become more diversified. . . .
Assessment drivers identified