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Published: Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:21:02 -0400

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The new normal: Arctic sea ice hits record low for 3rd straight winter

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:10:51 -0400

Welcome to the new normal: For the third straight year, Arctic sea ice peaked at a record low level during the winter season, scientists said Wednesday.  Arctic sea ice cover reached its annual peak extent on March 7, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said, at 5.57 million square miles. This is the lowest in the 38-year satellite record, and very likely far longer than that based on other data. This year's peak was about 37,000 miles less than the 2015 record. When compared to the 1981-2010 long-term average, sea ice extent this year was a staggering 471,000 square miles below the average annual maximum. This means a chunk of ice about the size of Texas, California and Kentucky combined was missing from the top of the world.   SEE ALSO: There are 11 newly-classified clouds, and all of them are breathtaking The record came at the end of one of the strangest winters that Arctic climate researchers have seen in modern times, with at least four instances in which unusually mild air swept across the entire Arctic from the North Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, bringing the North Pole to near or just above the melting point. See those oranges and reds? That shows much above average temperatures for the Oct-Feb 2016-17 period. Image: nsidc NSIDC scientists said air temperatures across the Arctic Ocean averaged more than 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit above average for the five months from October through February, with a series of "extreme winter heat waves" observed as well. Temperatures were even higher, averaging 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal over large sections of the Chukchi and Barents Seas, the NSIDC found. Arctic sea ice also hit a record low seasonal peak for sea ice volume, which is a measure of the thickness of the ice. This record indicates that the ice cover present in the Arctic is young and thin, and therefore more susceptible to melting during the upcoming spring and summer, possibly leading to another record low sea ice extent in September. The last three months were the warmest winter (Dec-Feb) in the #Arctic since record keeping began. — Robert Rohde (@rarohde) March 11, 2017 For the season, the Arctic region had the warmest winter on record, according to Berkeley Earth, an independent group that assesses global surface temperature data.  The record warmth across the Arctic, along with the low sea ice extent and volume, is surprising even the most seasoned Arctic researchers.  "All I can say here is that I've been studying Arctic weather patterns for 35 years and have never seen anything like what we've experienced over the past two winters," said National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) director Mark Serreze, in an email.  "Maybe this is just natural variability, but if so, it is a type of natural variability that I am unfamiliar with." The record-warm Arctic temperatures and anemic sea ice cover came during the warmest year on record for the Earth as a whole. The Arctic has been warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the world.  Arctic temperature spikes seen on a chart showing Arctic average temperatures in 2017 compared to previous years. Arrows point to 2 of the spikes. Image: zack labe/mashable As sea ice melts it exposes darker ocean waters beneath it to incoming solar radiation, causing the water temperatures to rise. These milder ocean waters then melt more ice while increasing air temperatures as well, which in turn goes on to melt more ice and snow, exposing more darker surfaces, and so on.  This phenomenon is known as Arctic amplification, and it is having repercussions both throughout the Arctic and beyond.  Not quite Las Vegas The new adage among Arctic specialists is a twist on the Las Vegas slogan: "What happens in Arctic does not stay in the Arctic."  #Arctic sea ice maximum and #Antarctic minimum both at record low this year. — NSIDC News (@NSIDC) March 22, 2017 Research has show[...]

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Bill would bar discrimination toward climate change doubters

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 18:51:08 -0400

(image) AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine laws protect people from discrimination based on factors such as race, disabilities and sexual orientation, and a Republican lawmaker wants to add a person's beliefs about climate change to that list.

France to probe Fiat for emissions cheating

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:19:41 -0400

(image) French investigating magistrates will open a probe into carmaker Fiat Chrysler for suspected cheating in diesel emissions tests, judicial sources said on Tuesday. The investigation follows a recommendation from the French anti-fraud office and will be run by public health magistrates, they said. France is already investigating global heavyweight Volkswagen and French champion Renault for allegedly fitting engines with devices designed to fool emissions test equipment, making cars seem less polluting than they actually were.

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Bacteria may be the key to future 3D-printed bespoke materials

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:22:08 -0400

(image) Scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands have developed a new process that enables them to 3D print a range of materials -- such as a form of graphene -- using bacteria.

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China approves fewer GMO crop imports, hampering trade-US industry group

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 04:45:01 -0400

(image) China is approving fewer new biotech crops for import than before, hampering the launch of new products globally and hurting trade, an American industry group said on Tuesday. China does not permit the planting of any genetically modified varieties of staple food crops amid deep-seated consumer opposition.

North Korean missile launch 'fails'

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 01:04:05 -0400

(image) The U.S. military says it's detected a failed North Korean missile launch attempt, with a rocket exploding within seconds of its launch. Graham Mackay reports.

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Tomb of Jesus reopens after original burial place uncovered for the first time in centuries

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 07:47:23 -0400

(image) The Church of the Holy Sepulchre has announced the completion of its extensive renovations to the tomb of Jesus. The religious site in Jerusalem has been under reconstruction since May 2016 but work finally came to an end on 20 March. The project was carried out by a team of Greek specialists who reconstructed the Edicule — the protective structure over the shelf on which the body of Christ is said to have rested following his crucifixtion.

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New idea shakes up dinosaur family tree for T. Rex and pals

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:50:53 -0400

(image) A new study dramatically rearranges the family tree of dinosaurs

These 3 Superbugs Pose the Greatest Threat to Human Health

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:51:00 -0400

(image) The World Health Organization is issuing a warning about a group of deadly bacteria: Recently, the WHO released its first-ever listof "priority pathogens," a list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that the organization says pose the greatest threat to human health. Three pathogens made it into the critical-priority group. Multidrug-resistant bacteria, sometimes called "superbugs," are a critical priority because infections with these germs can be deadly, according to the WHO.

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Florida eco-friendly town opens for business

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 01:10:20 -0400

(image) With a farm-to-table restaurant, driverless shuttles, homes built with the latest green techniques and a massive solar farm to offset energy use, Florida's first sustainable town is now open for business. The buzz about Babcock Ranch, an eco-friendly city of the future and the largest development of its kind in the United States, drew more than 15,000 people out this month for a peek. "We are building a new town from the ground up and that just doesn't happen very often," said Syd Kitson, a retired American football player who dreamed up the vision for Babcock Ranch over a decade ago.

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Taiwan: Earliest Catholic grave in Asia-Pacific unearthed

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 07:06:16 -0400

(image) Investigation of the earliest Spanish settlements in Taiwan, dating from the 1620s, has revealed the earliest European-style burial discovered so far in Asia-Pacific. The body is an adult male buried in a Catholic cemetery at the 17th Century Spanish settlement of San Salvador de Isla Hermosa on the Taiwanese island of Heping Dao (Peace Island), which was occupied between 1626 until 1642. "It's the first time we have such an old European grave uncovered in Asia-Pacific as a whole.

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‘Nanoweapons’ the size of insects pose a bigger threat than nuclear missiles, expert warns

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 06:09:28 -0400

(image) Tiny insect-sized ‘nanoweapons’ currently under development by the world’s superpowers could pose a bigger threat than nuclear weapons – and could even wipe out the human race. Physicist Louis del Monte claims that superpowers are already secretly working on such weapons – and there’s a one in 20 chance they’ll wipe out the human race by 2100. Perhaps more alarmingly, terrorists may be able to get their hands on insect-sized robots – which could be used to poison food and water supplies.

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UK royals' sibling rivalry? Princess Anne says GMO crops have benefits

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 06:36:58 -0400

(image) Britain's Princess Anne may have sparked some royal sibling rivalry after saying genetically modified crops had real benefits to offer, putting her at odds with her older brother Charles who says they would be an environmental disaster. In an interview with BBC radio, Anne said she would grow GMO crops on her farming estates, adding she doubted that the technology had many downsides. "GM is one of those things that divides people," Anne, whose title is the Princess Royal, told the BBC's "Farming Today" program.

I Feel Safe in My Lab Coat, Even Though I Shouldn’t

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:32:01 -0400

(image) Lab coats aren’t designed with women’s bodies in mind, but I still love mine. I’m a scientist, and when I work with dangerous chemicals in the lab, I wear something called a bunny suit. It’s not nearly as sexy as it sounds. For starters, there’s no formal bow tie or fluffy cottontail; instead, imagine an adult onesie that’s made of plastic. (Actually, the fabric is similar to weather-resistant house wrap, as seen on HGTV.) It’s soft and velvety and creates a sweaty little greenhouse that traps heat and somehow wicks moisture toward my body. The cut is extremely unisex. ...

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Most Teens Who Abuse Opioids 1st Got Them from a Doctor

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:55:00 -0400

(image) Most American teenagers who abuse opioid drugs first received the drugs from a doctor, a new study finds. "One consistent finding we observed over the past two decades is that the majority of nonmedical users of prescription opioids also have a history of medical use of prescription opioids," said study author Sean McCabe, a research professor at the University of Michigan.

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Indonesia increases estimate for cruise ship reef damage

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 04:33:16 -0400

(image) Indonesia said Wednesday a cruise ship on a voyage organised by a British company had damaged about 18,900 square metres of coral reef, increasing the estimate of the devastation caused when the vessel ran aground. The accident happened this month in Raja Ampat, eastern Indonesia, one of the most biodiverse marine habitats on Earth and a favourite with intrepid travellers and divers due to its palm-fringed islands, coral and fish. The 4,200-ton Caledonian Sky smashed into the reefs at low tide around Kri, one of hundreds of small islands in Raja Ampat, after taking tourists on a bird-watching expedition.

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Ancient Greece: 2,500-year-old sunken port central to the Battle of Salamis emerges

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 07:37:21 -0400

(image) Archaeologists in Greece have discovered the remains of an ancient port, where Greek naval forces may have gathered before engaging in the historic battle of Salamis with Persian troops in 480 BC. The battle of Salamis is the first great naval battle recorded in history and one of the most important ever fought by the ancient Greeks. Taking place during the Greco-Persian Wars, it is remembered as a real exploit on the part of Greek naval troops, as they managed to defeat a much larger Persian fleet.

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Apple surprises with release of new iPhone

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:44:18 -0400

(image) Four4Four Tech: Apple releases the Product Red version of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; US bans electronics on inbound flights from some countries; Revolutionary new password protections; Beijing to wipe out toilet paper theft?

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Thousands of huge ‘gas bubbles’ appear in the ground - and they’re about to explode

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 06:58:36 -0400

(image) Thousands of huge bulges have appeared in the ground in Siberia – and scientists believe that up to 7,000 bubbles full of ancient gas about to explode. The ‘bubbles’ are thought to be caused by global warming – which causes permafrost beneath the ground to thaw and release methane. When the vast bubbles explode, they leave large craters in the landscape – and may releasee methane gas into the atmosphere, according to the Siberian Times.

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First U.S. bumble bee added to endangered species list

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 17:05:09 -0400

(image) The rusty patched bumble bee became the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain federal protection on Tuesday when it was added to the government's list of endangered and threatened species. The bee, once widely found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern United States, was listed after U.S. President Donald Trump's administration lifted a hold it had placed on a plan for federal protections proposed last fall by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

$100 Million in Artifacts Shipped from Egypt & Turkey to US in 2016

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:54:00 -0400

(image) About $50 million worth of artifacts and antiques were shipped from both Egypt and Turkey to the United States in 2016 — the highest annual value from each of those countries in at least 20 years, according to U.S. Census Bureau documents. Most of the artifacts were shipped to New York City, where numerous antiquities dealers, auction houses and art galleries are based. It can be difficult to determine whether a shipment of artifacts was recently looted, law-enforcement officials told Live Science.

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Croc horror: Love lost after Aussie teen reptile stunt

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 01:12:10 -0400

(image) In a bid to woo Sophie Paterson, Lee de Paauw jumped into Johnstone River at Innisfail in Queensland state early Sunday morning. De Paauw, 18, was lucky to escape with only two broken bones and stitches after the reptile released its grip when he landed punches on its head. Despite the brazen act, Paterson said she would visit de Paauw if work demands allowed, but she added that there were no plans for the two to date, telling reporters he was "too young for me".

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Scientists find how using "satnav" switches off parts of brain

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 12:15:09 -0400

(image) By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - If you have long feared that using a "satnav" navigation system to get to your destination is making you worse at finding the way alone, research now suggests you may be right. Scientists studying what satnavs do to the brain have found that people using them effectively switch off parts of the brain that would otherwise be utilised to simulate different routes and boost navigational skills. Publishing the findings in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, the researchers said that when volunteers in an experiment navigated manually, their hippocampus and prefrontal cortex brain regions had spikes of activity.

There are 11 newly-classified clouds, and all of them are breathtaking

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:22:07 -0400

It's time for you to look up at the sky more often. If you did, you might catch a volutus, or roll cloud, which looks like a tube that appears to be spinning along its horizontal axis. Or perhaps you'll get really lucky, and see a dramatic-looking asperitas cloud, from the Latin word for roughness. These resemble a rough sea's surface, as seen from underwater.  The volutus and asperitas are but two of the 11 new cloud classifications included in the new edition of the International Cloud Atlas that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will publish online on Thursday.  SEE ALSO: Global warming made Australia's record-breaking, sizzling summer 50 times more likely This is the first update to the cloud atlas since 1987, and some of the new clouds featured were the subject of concerted, multi-year lobbying campaigns. This also marks the first time the guide is being published online.  That's right — there are cloud lobbyists. Well, sort of, anyway. The Cloud Appreciation Society, a group of about 43,000 cloud enthusiasts scattered throughout 110 countries, has pushed for the recognition of asperitas as a new type of cloud since 2006.  Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the society's founder, said that these clouds first came to his group's attention more than a decade ago, when a dramatic display occurred in the skies above Iowa. He describes such clouds as resembling a turbulent sea as viewed from below the water's surface.  “I wasn’t ever really expecting the new classification of cloud to really become a newly classified cloud under the WMO,” Pretor-Pinney said in an interview. He said the society helped document the asperitas formation using an iPhone app called Cloudspotter that allows users to take pictures of clouds and guess what types are in the image. Experts then respond to them with the proper classification.  “The important thing... is that this gave us a great body of examples of the asperitas formation, taken in different places around the world,” Pretor-Pinney said. So far, the group has gathered 280,000 cloud images through the app, he said. In addition to the asperitas classification, the new atlas also contains new names for clouds that were already well-known to weather geeks around the world, including the Kelvin-Helmhotz cloud and the hole-punch cloud, also known as a fallstreak hole. Officially, these will now be known as fluctus and cavum, respectively, though meteorologists may exhibit a fondness for  the less formal terminology.  A roll cloud, now formally known as  a volutus cloud. Image: Dan Bush/Missouri Skies Another "accessory cloud," which is well-known to tornado chasers, will now have the Latin name flumen. Chasers call it a "beaver's tail," owing to its shape and placement within a severe thunderstorm. In addition, the new atlas puts forward five  "special clouds" with tongue twisting names like "cataractagenitus," "flammagenitus," "homogenitus" and  "silvagenitus." These clouds are created by localized factors such as large waterfalls, heat from wildfires and engine exhaust from high-flying aircraft, which are also known as contrails.  Pretor-Pinney, who has written a book about clouds, thinks deeply about the cultural significance o[...]

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Sea otters have been using tools to get food for millions of years

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:01:02 -0400

(image) Sea otters may have been using tools to get at food for millions of years. This is way longer than bottlenose dolphins – their marine mammal tool-using counterparts, which have only mastered the ability in the last few centuries. The two best examples we have are sea otters and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins.

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Earliest Depiction of 'Fiery Serpent' Found in Medieval Painting

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 11:58:00 -0400

(image) Italian researchers examining a medieval painting may have found the earliest visual depiction of dracunculiasis, a horrifying parasitic infection in which a worm up to 3 feet long creeps out of the skin. Currently endemic to areas in Chad, Ethiopia, Mali and South Sudan, the disease is transmitted to people who drink water infested with water fleas that are in the Cyclops genus, and that contain larvae of the guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis). One year after the person ingests the contaminated water, a spaghetti-like worm 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 1 meter) long erupts from a blistered area of the person's skin — usually in the lower part of the leg, according to he World Health Organization.

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New Zealand parrot has 'infectious laugh'

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 11:03:45 -0400

(image) Researchers have found that New Zealand's kea parrot has the avian equivalent of an infectious laugh -- a call that when heard prompts others to drop everything and have some fun. Kea live in alpine areas and are renowned in New Zealand for being intelligent and mischievous, often called "the clown of the mountain". Austrian researcher Raoul Schwing found the kea has a "play call" distinct from its other vocalisations, which caused other parrots to start playing spontaneously.

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Spending Money on Experiences Makes You a Better Person

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:52:56 -0400

(image) Thomas Gilovich, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Cornell University and co-author a new study on gratitude, discovered in recent study that spend more money on experiences, and less on material objects automatically infuses gratitude in one's life.

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Researchers watched the end of an online world, and it was surprisingly civil

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:15:25 -0400

(image) Using 275 million records and an MMORPG, a team of international researchers attempts to reveal how humans will behave as the end of days approach.

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Scientists Identify Cerebellum's Previously Unknown Role

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 02:28:41 -0400

(image) A team of researchers has discovered that the "little brain" may be playing a key role in anticipating and responding to rewards — activities that are key drivers of behavior.

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