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Tue, 19 Oct 2021
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Igloo

Edinburgh shivers during one of the coldest-ever Februarys

It's official - Edinburgh is in the midst of one of the coldest Februarys on record, and the icy conditions are set to stay with us for up to a month.

Weather experts say that with temperatures as low as -7C, and daily averages fluctuating between 2C and -3C, the city is in line to record its first sub-zero average February in more than a decade.

Yet while forecasters predict the mercury will struggle to climb above freezing for weeks to come, it is nowhere near Edinburgh's worst winter.

Records show that back in 1947, the average temperature for the area over February was a frosty -3C.

The closest the Capital has come to a February that severe since then was back in 1986, when the temperatures dropped to an average -1.9C for the month.

In recent years the trend has been for milder winters, making the current cold snap all the more unexpected.

Pills

US: Animal experts are baffled by Xanax drugged chimp attack

Travis
© AP Photo/The Stamford Advocate, Kathleen O'Rourke
In this Oct. 20, 2003 photo, Travis, a 10-year-old chimpanzee, sits in the corner of his playroom at the home of Sandy and Jerome Herold in Stamford, Conn. The 175-pound (80-kilogram) chimpanzee kept as a pet was shot and killed by a police officer Monday, Feb. 16, 2009 after it attacked a woman visiting its owners' home, leaving her with serious facial injuries, authorities said.
Stamford, Connecticut - Travis the chimpanzee, a veteran of TV commercials, was the constant companion of a lonely Connecticut widow who fed him steak, lobster and ice cream. He could eat at the table, drink wine from a stemmed glass, use the toilet, and dress and bathe himself.

He brushed his teeth with a Water Pik, logged on to a computer to look at photos and channel-surfed television with the remote control.

But on Monday, the wild animal in him came out with a vengeance.

The 200-pound animal viciously mauled a friend of his owner before being shot to death by police.

Investigators are trying to figure out why - whether it was a bout of Lyme disease, a reaction to drugs, or a case of instinct taking over.

"It's hard to say what exactly precipitated this behavior," said Colleen McCann, a primatologist at the Bronx Zoo. "At the end of the day, they are not human and you can't always predict their behavior and how they or any other wild animal will respond when they feel threatened."

Travis attacked 55-year-old Charla Nash as Sandra Herold frantically stabbed her beloved pet with a butcher knife and pounded him with a shovel. Nash was in critical condition Tuesday with "life-changing, if not life-threatening," injuries to her face and hands, Mayor Dannel Malloy said.

Bizarro Earth

Climate 'Flickering' Ended Last Ice Age in North Atlantic Region

Lake Kråkenes
© UIB/BCCR
Sediment cores were obtained from Lake Kråkenes in western Norway and from the Nordic seas in order to document the last part of the ice age.
An article published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows that the period towards the end of the ice age was engraved by extreme and short-lived variations, which finally terminated the ice age.

A group of scientists at the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research and the University of Bergen in Norway, together with colleagues at ETH, Zürich, combined terrestrial and marine proxy palaeo-data covering the latest part of the ice age to improve our understanding of the mechanisms leading to rapid climatic changes.

The Younger Dryas event, which began approximately 12,900 years ago, was a period of rapid cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, driven by large-scale reorganizations of patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation. Environmental changes during this period have been documented by both proxy-based reconstructions from sediment archives and model simulations, but there is currently no consensus on the exact mechanisms of onset, stabilization, or termination of the Younger Dryas. In contrast to existing knowledge, the Nature article shows that the climate shifted repeatedly from cold and dry to wet and less cold, from decade to decade, before interglacial conditions were finally reached and the climate system became more stable.

Sun

Nobody Knows How Dry We Are

What Does Economic "Recovery" Mean on an Extreme Weather Planet?

It turns out that you don't want to be a former city dweller in rural parts of southernmost Australia, a stalk of wheat in China or Iraq, a soybean in Argentina, an almond or grape in northern California, a cow in Texas, or almost anything in parts of east Africa right now. Let me explain.

As anyone who has turned on the prime-time TV news these last weeks knows, southeastern Australia has been burning up. It's already dry climate has been growing ever hotter. "The great drying," Australian environmental scientist Tim Flannery calls it. At its epicenter, Melbourne recorded its hottest day ever this month at a sweltering 115.5 degrees, while temperatures soared even higher in the surrounding countryside. After more than a decade of drought, followed by the lowest rainfall on record, the eucalyptus forests are now burning. To be exact, they are now pouring vast quantities of stored carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas considered largely responsible for global warming, into the atmosphere.

Bizarro Earth

California river conditions could starve killer whales

killer whales
© Sandra Cannon/Associated Press
Lack of food caused in part by the effect of dams and other man-made obstacles on California rivers and streams that are diminishing food sources for killer whales has become a greater threat to the whales' survival.

Federal wildlife officials have concluded that killer whales are threatened by California's massive network of dams and water diversions, a development that could bring a massive shift in public opinion about the state's water issues.

Though the iconic orca never ventures into freshwater, its primary food source does. Salmon species in the Central Valley are in bad shape, in large part due to the damming and diversion of their habitat on numerous rivers in California's interior. Their decline threatens to starve the dwindling southern resident population of killer whale, which numbers less than 90 animals.

Radar

Huge oil slick threatens Irish coast

Oil Slick Ireland
© Independent.ie
The huge oil slick on the Celtic Sea, less than 40 miles off the Kinsale coast. The giant Russian aircraft carrier The Admiral Kuznetsov, which is 300m long, can been seen to the top left of picture, giving an indication as to the immense scale of the spillage

A massive oil slick moving towards Ireland and the UK is more than three times larger than originally estimated.

The spill, about 50 miles south of Fastnet Rock, off the west Cork coast, was discovered near where a Russian warship was refueling in the Celtic Sea.

It is now believed to be 1,000 tonnes, revised upwards from 300 tonnes, and could reach Irish and Welsh shores in just over two weeks.

A Russian destroyer, a British destroyer, an Irish Naval vessel and a Russian aircraft carrier are all at the scene, along with an ocean-going tug and two refueling tankers.

X

Asian elephants threatened by Vietnamese ivory trade

elephants
Increasing ivory prices on the Vietnamese black market threaten Indochina's declining elephant population, the World Wildlife Fund said on Monday, citing a study by a wildlife monitoring organization.

The study by Traffic found that illegal ivory prices in Vietnam could be the world's highest, with tusks selling for up to $1,500 per kilogram and small, cut pieces selling for up to $1,863 per kilogram.

Most ivory products on sale in Vietnam come from Laos, with small amounts originating from Cambodia and Vietnam itself.

Extinguisher

Australian Bushfires - Some victims will never be identified

The gruesome reality of the search through the rubble of Victoria's bushfires has become clearer as police admit it is difficult to determine whether remains come from one person, or even if they are human.

Police on Monday announced the death toll from the savage fires had risen to 189, only eight more than their last update on Thursday, and would continue to rise.

The revised toll included 40 from the hamlet of Strathewen from its population of 200, while 36 have so far been confirmed dead in Marysville which is expected to lose 100 of its 500 residents.

While 10 more victims were identified in Strathewen and 21 more in Marsyville, the number of dead has gone down in some areas after remains were fully identified.

Bug

Honeybees under attack on all fronts

Image
© Nature Picture Library/Rex
Vital for our food production, honeybee populations are now in crisis.

The world's honeybees appear to be dying off in horrifying numbers, and now consensus is starting to emerge on the reason why: it seems there is no one cause. Infections, lack of food, pesticides and breeding - none catastrophic on their own - are having a synergistic effect, pushing bee survival to a lethal tipping point. A somewhat anti-climactic conclusion it may be, but appreciating this complexity - and realising there will be no magic bullet - may be the key to saving the insects.

A third of our food relies on bees for pollination. Both the US and UK report losing a third of their bees last year. Other European countries have seen major die-offs too: Italy, for example, said it lost nearly half its bees last year. The deaths are now spreading to Asia, with reports in India and suspected cases in China.

But while individual "sub-lethal stresses" such as infections are implicated, we know little about how they add together. The situation should become clearer in the next few years as the US government, the EU and others are pouring money into bee research. The UK, for example, has doubled its annual research budget, allocating £400,000 a year for the next five years.

Frog

White Alligator is One of Rarest in World

Image
© BARCROFT
White alligator: Out of the 5 million American alligator population there are thought to be only 12 leucistic gators

A white alligator, one of only 12 of its kind anywhere in the world, has been brought in from the swamps of Louisiana.

With its piercing blue eyes and pale skin this rare Alligator stands out like a sore thumb.

Weighing over 500 pounds, 22 year old male Bouya Blan is one of only 12 white alligators in the world.

The 500lb, 22-year-old male alligator, Bouya Blan, whose name means white fog, is kept at the Gatorland theme park in Florida.

He is one of four giant leucistic alligators kept at the park.