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Fri, 14 Aug 2020
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China reels from worst drought in a decade



©Unknown

China is suffering its worst drought in a decade, which has left millions of people short of drinking water and has shrunk reservoirs and rivers, state media said on Friday.

Hardest hit are large swathes of the usually humid south, where water levels on several major rivers have plunged to historic lows in recent months.

Star

Squirrels Use "Snake Perfume" to Fool Predators



©Video stills courtesy Barbara Clucas
Video stills show a ground squirrel chewing on a rattlesnake's shed skin and then licking its body to apply the masticated mush. The act most likely persuades serpents that another snake, not a squirrel, is in the area. A new study suggests that this behavior is part of a host of tricks the squirrels have evolved to use to avoid predation.

To mask their odor from rattlesnakes, California ground squirrels and rock squirrels chew on sloughed-off snake skin and smear it on their fur, according to a new study.

The act most likely persuades the predators that another snake, not a squirrel, is in the area.

Bulb

U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

The new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP Ranking Member details the views of the scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke out in 2007.

Heart

Most Endangered Duck Finds Refuge on Midway Atoll

The most highly endangered duck species, the Laysan teal, had a very successful 2007 breeding season at a refuge that was once part of its historic range, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists. This year's total tally of adult and fledgling Laysan ducks, now residing on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), rose during 2007 to approximately 200 ducks.

This is only the third year since these highly endangered birds, also known as Laysan teal, were trapped in the wild and carefully transported by ship from their only remaining population on Laysan Island to re-establish a second population.

"These rare, wild ducks could not co-exist with rats, migrate, or disperse away from Laysan Island, so a few birds were translocated by ship to restore the species to a larger range," USGS wildlife researcher Michelle Reynolds, coordinator for the project, explained. "Now Laysan ducks are found on three rat-free islands for the first time in hundreds of years and are flying between islands at Midway Atoll."

©unknown
Map of study sites: Laysan Island Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and Midway Atoll, NWR. The source population occurs on Laysan and the translocated population on Midway Atoll NWR.

Binoculars

Study reveals severe decline of Europe's common birds

Almost half of common European birds are heading towards "continental extinction", a new report warns today.

The alarming rate of decline revealed in the report has fuelled fears for the future of many of the continent's birds, including the grey partridge, lesser spotted woodpecker and crested lark.

Almost half (45%) of Europe's common birds have declined over a 26-year period according to the report, the State of Europe's Common Birds 2007.

Bell

Update: Aftershocks rock New Zealand city after major quake



©Agence France-Presse
Penny Walsh checks the damages in the local library following a powerful earthquake in Gisborne, New Zealand, 21 December 2007. A state of emergency was declared for the centre of the eastern New Zealand city of Gisborne after a powerful 6.8 earthquake flattened buildings and caused widespread damage.

Aftershocks continued to rattle the eastern New Zealand city of Gisborne Friday after a powerful 6.8 earthquake smashed buildings and left a gaping hole in a street.

Better Earth

Powerful Volcano Eruption in Kamchatka

An eruption of the most northern active volcano in Kamchatka - Shiveluch occurred this night and appeared to be one of the most powerful eruptions of the recent years. Powerful flows of ash were coming from the volcano crater along with gas flows and fragments of magma substances with the temperature reaching 800 degrees Centigrade.

Better Earth

Volcanic particles 'can help cool' Earth

Russian scientists have discovered that volcanic particles can help cool the Earth, a leading environmental scientist said yesterday.

The world's temperature can drop 0.5 to 1 C a year if 1 million tons of volcanic particles are sprinkled across the globe from 10 to 14 km in the sky, said Yuri Israel, deputy head of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won this year's Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice-president Al Gore.

"Our experiments have shown it's effective, and actually it's more effective than some methods stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol to mitigate global warming," Israel said during a Moscow-Beijing video-conference on climate change. The conference was part of an exchange program between Russia and China.

Better Earth

Volcano Deep Down Could Be Melting Greenland's Ice

A thin spot in the Earth's crust is enabling underground magma to melt Greenland's ice, scientists at the Ohio State University feel.

According to them, the "hotspot" is located in the northeast corner of Greenland -- just below a site where an ice stream was recently discovered.

The researchers don't yet know how warm the hotspot is, but if it is warm enough to melt the ice above it even a little, it could enable the ice to slide more rapidly out to sea.

Bell

Damage but no deaths as earthquake 6.8 hits New Zealand

A strong earthquake has hit the east coast of New Zealand, causing power cuts and damage to buildings but no casualties.

The tremor, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, struck at 8.55pm (7.55am GMT). It was centred 30 miles (48km) off the coast, just south east of the city of Gisborne on the country's north island.