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Fri, 21 Jan 2022
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US: Farmers' Almanac predicts numbing cold this winter

Lewiston, Maine - Americans, you might want to check on their sweaters and shovels - the Farmers' Almanac is predicting a cold winter for many of you.

The venerable almanac's 2010 edition, which goes on sale Tuesday, says numbing cold will predominate in the country's midsection, from the Rocky Mountains in the West to the Appalachians in the East.

Bizarro Earth

US: Wind, Current Combined to Raise East Coast Sea Level

Folks living along the East Coast were in higher water early this summer thanks to a change in the wind and current flow.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday the higher than normal sea levels were caused by persistent winds from the northeast - pushing water toward shore - and a weakening of the Florida current that feeds water into the Gulf Stream.

Water levels ranged from six inches to two feet above normal in areas from Maine to Florida during June and July, the agency said.

Arrow Down

Nitrous oxide is top destroyer of ozone layer: study

Nitrous oxide emissions caused by human activity have become the largest contributor to ozone depletion and are likely to remain so for the rest of the 21st century, a US study has concluded.

The study by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency said efforts to reduce chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere over the past two decades were "an environmental success story.

"But manmade nitrous oxide is now the elephant in the room among ozone-depleting substances," said A. R. Ravishankara, lead author of the study, which was published Friday in the journal Science.

Radar

Mobile towers threatening honey bees in Kerala, India

Image
© Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Thiruvananthapuram-- Mobile towers are posing a threat to honey bees in Kerala with electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers and cell phones having the potential to kill worker bees that go out to collect nectar from flowers, says a study.

Attention

Update: Thousands flee Los Angeles County homes as fire races

LA firefighter
© Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
A firefighter clears brush from a propane tank in Acton as a fire races through the Angeles National Forest, where 18 structures were confirmed destroyed.
Los Angeles -- Two firefighters were killed when their vehicle rolled off a mountainside Sunday as they battled a huge wildfire that threatens 12,000 suburban homes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger urged those in the fire's path to follow the instructions of authorities and get out.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said at a news conference Sunday night that the two men were amid intense fire near Mount Gleason in the Angeles National Forest when the vehicle crashed. He did not release their identities or give a cause for the crash.

While thousands fled, two people who tried to ride out the firestorm in a backyard hot tub were critically burned. The pair in Big Tujunga Canyon, on the southwestern edge of the blaze, "completely underestimated the fire" and the hot tub provided "no protection whatsoever," sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said Sunday.

Cow

Police baffled as dozens of 'suicidal' cows throw themselves off cliff in the Alps

Dozen of dead cows body
© dailymail.co.uk
Dozens of cows bodies litter the valley floor
In the picturesque Swiss village of Lauterbrunnen, the locals are worried.

Dozens of alpine cows appear to be committing suicide by throwing themselves off a cliff near the small village in the Alps.

In the space of just three days, 28 cows and bulls have mysteriously died after they plunged hundreds of metres to rocks below where they were killed instantly.

In each case, local mountain rescue services using a helicopter had to be called in to remove the bodies because of the danger to the local groundwater of pollution.

A police spokesman said: 'There are no large carnivores living in the Alps anymore who would once have disposed of the bodies so they have to be moved.

Frog

Bizarre newt uses ribs as weapons

Spanish ribbed newt
© BBC Earth news
Spanish ribbed newt
One amphibian has evolved a bizarre and gruesome defence mechanism to protect itself against predators.

When attacked, the Spanish ribbed newt pushes out its ribs until they pierce through its body, exposing a row of bones that act like poisonous barbs.

The newt has to force its bones through its skin every time it is attacked, say scientists, who have described the form and function of the barbs in detail.

Yet this bizarre behaviour appears not to cause the newt any ill effects.

The ability of the Spanish ribbed newt to expose its rib bones was first noticed by a natural historian in 1879.

But scientists have now used modern photographic and X-ray imaging techniques to reveal just how the animal does it. The ribs have burst through the skin, ready to sting any attacker.

And what they discovered is even more gruesome than they imagined.

Cloud Lightning

Windstorms kill one, leave 1,300 houses damaged in Indian Kashmir

Image
© AFP
Indian commuters make their way during a downpour in Amritsar on July 27, 2009.
Srinagar - Severe windstorms left a young woman dead, injured dozens and damaged around 1,300 houses in the northern parts of revolt-hit Indian-ruled Kashmir, officials said Monday.

The windstorms that swept across northern districts of Handwara and Langate late Sunday also left thousands of homes without power, an official statement said.

Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday visited the affected areas and ordered immediate relief for the victims.

He was informed by the local officials that a 22-year-old woman was killed and 40 other residents were hurt.

Cloud Lightning

Six killed by lightning in China

Image
© Unknown
Six farmers were killed in eastern China Sunday when the hut they were sheltering in during a storm was struck by lightning, state media reported.

Another farmer in the hut was injured and taken to hospital, the Xinhua news agency quoted local officials in Anhui province as saying.

The accident happened during a heavy rainstorm in the village of Qiaodong, around 650 kilometres (400 miles) northwest of Shanghai, Xinhua quoted officials from the county government as saying.

Bizarro Earth

US: Georgia's Satilla River seen as 'poster child' for mercury poisoning

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey reveals mercury contamination is pervasive in rivers and streams all across the nation.

A Southeast Georgia environmental advocate says the Satilla River, which rises near Douglas and empties into the Atlantic near Woodbine, could be the "poster child" for that study.

"The Satilla exemplifies everything in that study," Satilla Riverkeeper Gordon Rogers said after the results of the study were released Wednesday. "It's a blackwater stream that's heavily contaminated with mercury, and the mercury is poisoning the fish to the point that they're inedible."

USGS scientists who tested fish from 291 streams found mercury contamination in all of them. According to the study, the highest levels of mercury were found in blackwater streams, such as the Satilla and similar rivers in the southeastern United States.

Blackwater river systems are far more efficient at transferring mercury to fish than are alluvial systems like the Altamaha River, Rogers said. Fish species, such as catfish, redbreast and largemouth bass, ingest mercury when they feed on plants and insects.