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Wed, 01 Dec 2021
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Pelicans fall out of sky

Pelicans suffering from a mysterious malady are crashing into cars and boats, wandering along roadways and turning up dead by the hundreds across the West Coast, from southern Oregon to Baja California, Mexico, bird-rescue workers say.

Better Earth

Global Warming? Europe shivers in cold snap

Temperatures across Europe have plunged to record lows, causing travel chaos and putting more demand on power supplies.

In France, the normally balmy south was covered in up to 40 centimetres of snow, leaving hundreds of motorists stranded on motorways around Marseille.

The city's main St Charles railway station had to be closed after the signals froze.

The situation was the same across a swathe of northern Italy. In Milan, the city's two airports have re-opened after being closed for several hours on Wednesday. Flights have also resumed at airports in Turin and Bergamo.

Temperatures sank to record lows in parts of Germany overnight. A weather station in the eastern state of Saxony said the coldest spot was just below minus 27 degrees Celsius. Thick snow has covered much of the country and ice breakers have been brought in to clear several waterways.

Bizarro Earth

Quake in Northern Mexico causes peninsular plate separation

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake that rattled northern Mexico on Monday has produced a small separation of the peninsula from the continent, a Mexican scientist said Tuesday.

Phoenix

US: Wildfires trigger evacuations near Boulder, Colorado

Wind-driven wildfires swept across Boulder County grasslands Wednesday, destroying at least four structures and prompting mandatory evacuations of at least 500 homes.

Residents were ordered to leave more than 500 homes on the north side of Boulder, county spokeswoman Barbara Halpin said. At least one other neighborhood north of the city was evacuated, but the number of homes wasn't immediately known.

No injuries were immediately reported.

Cloud Lightning

US: Melting snow causes heavy flooding in Washington state

Image
© AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Rescue workers evacuate residents from a flooded neighborhood along McCutcheon Rd. near Orting, Wash. Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009. The rapidly rising Puyallup River forced hundreds of people in the area from their homes.

Snoqualmie - Rain and high winds lashed Washington state Wednesday, causing widespread avalanches, mudslides, flooding and road closures as the heavy snowfall that has buried parts of the state began to rapidly melt.

More than 30,000 people were told to leave their homes in flood-endangered areas across western Washington as authorities warned of heavy flooding.

"This is going to be a memorable flood event," said Andy Haner, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle.

Fire trucks rolled through Orting, about 10 miles southeast of Tacoma, with loudspeakers advising everyone to leave the town and surrounding valley, home to about 26,000 people. Sandbags were placed around many downtown homes and businesses as the Puyallup River neared record levels. It was forecast to crest Thursday.

Magnify

'Spookfish' Has Mirrors For Eyes

Spookfish1
© BBC News
The spookfish has a pair of mirrors (black) to focus light from below into its eyes.

A Pacific fish uses mirrors as well as lenses to help it see in the murky ocean depths, scientists have revealed.

The brownsnout spookfish has been known for 120 years, but no live specimen had ever been captured.

Last year, one was caught off Tonga, by scientists from Tuebingen University, Germany.

Tests confirmed the fish is the first vertebrate known to have developed mirrors to focus light into its eyes, the team reports in Current Biology.

Better Earth

Polarized Light Leads Animals Astray

Young sea turtle
© ScienceDaily/iStockphoto
Baby sea turtles use the direction of star- and moonlight reflected off the water surface to help them find the ocean when they emerge from their beach nests; in urbanized areas, many turtles turn the wrong way and migrate toward the brighter lights of buildings or streetlamps.
Human-made light sources can alter natural light cycles, causing animals that rely on light cues to make mistakes when moving through their environment. In the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a collaboration of ecologists, biologists and biophysicists has now shown that in addition to direct light, cues from polarized light can trigger animal behaviors leading to injury and often death.

Artificial light that occurs at unnatural times or places - often called light pollution - can attract or repulse animals, resulting in increased predation, migrating in the wrong direction, choosing bad nest sites or mates, collisions with artificial structures and reduced time available to spend looking for food, just to name a few. In a classic example, baby sea turtles use the direction of star- and moonlight reflected off the water surface to help them find the ocean when they emerge from their beach nests; in urbanized areas, many turtles turn the wrong way and migrate toward the brighter lights of buildings or streetlamps.

Igloo

The day the sea froze: Temperatures plunge to MINUS 12C and forecasters say it won't warm up until Sunday

Frozen sea
© The Daily Mail
Two walkers venture out over the frozen area which, in the distance, can be seen encroaching on a small boat
Temperatures plunged so low today that the sea actually began to freeze as Arctic conditions continued to grip the UK.

In the exclusive enclave of Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, a half-mile stretch along the shoreline reaching about 20 yards out to sea is covered in ice.

The enclosed area and lack of movement caused by light tides would make the sea here more susceptible to this occurring, said Tony Conlan, a forecaster with the MeteoGroup.

The sea freezing is a relatively rare occurrence and the last time the sea in the South froze was in February 1991. It was in 1963 that the seas iced over more widely.

Fish

Journey Of A Green Turtle From Indonesia Into Australian Opens Mystery Of 'Oceanic Superhighway'

Green turtle swimming
© iStockphoto
Green turtle swimming. The remarkable journey of a green turtle from Indonesia into Australian waters is helping conservationists to track the migratory route of this species to the Kimberley-Pilbara coast - one of the few relatively pristine coastal areas left on Earth.

The remarkable journey of a green turtle from Indonesia into Australian waters is helping conservationists to track the migratory route of this species to the Kimberley-Pilbara coast - one of the few relatively pristine coastal areas left on Earth.

Ana, a female green turtle, was tagged in Indonesia in November as part of a turtle tracking project by WWF and Udayana University in Bali, Indonesia, and has slowly made her way from a nesting beach in East Java, across the Indian Ocean, and is on track for the beaches of the Kimberley in Western Australia.

Her journey, monitored online by WWF, demonstrates the strong biological ties between Indonesia and the reefs on the west Australian coast.

"Ana's journey is unique. She has revealed an 'oceanic superhighway' that helps us better understand how marine turtles navigate around the world's oceans as well as highlighting the strong ecological and evolutionary connections between Indonesia and Australia's Kimberley-Pilbara coast," said Gilly Llewellyn, WWF Ocean's Program Leader.

Attention

US: Mercury Found at High Levels in Indiana Streams

Foam on a stream in southeast Indiana
© Bernie Kasper
Foam on a stream in southeast Indiana.
INDIANAPOLIS - Six of every 100 streams in Indiana contain mercury at levels greater than the state water quality standard protecting human health, according to research released today by the U.S. Geological Survey. With new mapping techniques, the scientists identified an area in southeastern Indiana with some of the highest levels of mercury deposition in the United States.

Mercury concentrations in 73 percent of the samples exceeded the more restrictive state water quality standard protecting wildlife.

More than 80 percent of the water samples had detectable methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury that accumulates in fish, birds, and mammals at the top of food chains.

In a separate report looking at mercury in rain and snow, USGS scientists found that mercury concentrations in more than 40 percent of the samples exceeded the Indiana water quality standard for human health and nearly all concentrations exceeded the standard protecting wildlife.

"Our studies are showing that mercury can be found in the water everywhere we've looked in Indiana, but the mercury varies from place to place and changes both seasonally and year to year," said USGS scientist Martin Risch, an author on both papers.