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May 2016
May 2016

A 64-year-old woman and her four great-grandchildren were killed early Saturday when floodwaters ripped through their neighborhood in Palestine, Texas. The bodies of the five victims were found near one of the homes on their street in the early morning hours, according to the the Palestine Police Department.
<p>Located near the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Danakil Depression has beautiful landscapes, but is incredibly dangerous to travel to. The temperature during the day hovers around 107 degrees Fahrenheit, even in early spring. It's dry, and sulfur and chlorine cloud the air, burning the lungs of people unfortunate enough to be close to the boiling hot springs, roiling with salt, and heated by magma deep in the Earth. Welcome to the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia. It's 328 feet below sea level, volcanically active, a home to salt traders and sought out by adventurers.</p>
<p>Residents of the southeastern United States may feel like the calendar has flipped ahead to Memorial Day weekend with warm and muggy weather in place for the start of May.</p>
A late-April snowstorm dumped over a foot of heavy, wet snow across parts of Colorado on Thursday into Friday, boosting snowpack for an extended ski season...
Climate change could put certain species of African antelopes at risk of extinction, particularly those with the smallest geographic ranges, says a study released Thursday.
Expanding rainfall will bring good news for unusually dry portions of the northeastern United States into early next week.
Astronomers have found a first-of-its-kind tailless comet whose composition may offer clues into long-standing questions about the solar system's formation and evolution, according to research published on Friday in the journal Science Advances.
With sizzling temperatures claiming more than 300 lives this month in India, officials said they were banning daytime cooking in some parts of the drought-stricken country in a bid to prevent accidental fires that have killed nearly 80 more people.
As we arrive at the midpoint of the spring season, we examine some of the prominent stars and constellations (and planets)...
The otherworldly event is forecast to arrive from a “solar sector boundary crossing.”
From lightning strikes to heat waves, this was the week in weather.
Nuclear war. Climate change. Pandemics that kill tens of millions. These are the most viable threats to globally organized civilization. They’re the stuff of nightmares and blockbusters—but unlike sea monsters or zombie viruses, they’re real, part of the calculus that political leaders consider everyday. And according to a new report from the UK-based Global Challenges Foundation, they’re much more likely than we might think. In its annual report ...
<p>Nickolay Lamm In 2006, a white bear with brown splotches, believed to be a hybrid of a polar bear and a grizzly, was shot by Arctic hunters. Then in 2009, a possible hybrid of a right whale and a bowhead was photographed...</p>
Withering drought and sizzling temperatures from El Nino have caused food and water shortages and ravaged farming across Asia, and experts warn of a double-whammy of possible flooding from its sibling, La Nina.
<p>From heat wave in India to cherry blossoms in Japan, a look at the best of the weather pictures from the month of April.</p>
Last winter's East Coast blizzard has set another record, in New York City, while a record in Newark, New Jersey, was deleted, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday in a report prompted by questions about the accuracy of snowfall measurements.The review also found that widely reported suspicions about a 17.8-inch measurement at Reagan National Airport near Washington were unfounded. Although substantially lower than readings within the District of Columbia, the number was close to totals from nearby sites...
The excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has created a greener planet, a new NASA study shows. Around the world, areas that were once icebound,...
Climate change is exposing millions of workers to excessive heat, risking their health and income and threatening to erase more than $2.0 trillion in annual productivity by 2030, a UN report warned Thursday.More than one billion workers in countries hard-hit by global warming are already grappling with increasing severe heat, according to the report: "Climate Change and Labour: Impacts of Heat in the Workplace.""Already in the current situation, several percent of working hours can be lost in highly exposed regions," said the report, a collaboration between several UN agencies and international unions.The global productivity loss is expected to top $2.0 trillion annually by 2030, as sweltering temperatures force outdoor workers and manual labourers to slow down, take longer breaks or even move to find work in a cooler climate."When workers are put under these hot-house conditions, their capacity to work is dramatically impacted," Philip Jennings, head of UNI Global Union, told AFP.Working in temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) is considered health hazardous.Some labourers exposed to such conditions have no choice but to continue working, sometimes without access to drinking water or shade to cool off in. "Those who work in the fields may ruin their health just by trying to put a meal on the table," Saleemul Huq, head of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, warned in a statement.An estimated four billion people live in the areas most exposed to climate change.Those regions include much of southern Asia, the southern United States, Central America and the Caribbean, northern South America and north and west Africa.In West Africa, the number of very hot days each year has already doubled since the 1960s, with an increase of around 10 additional hot days each decade, the report said.And in Kolkata, India, each decade brings an additional 12 days where the mercury soars above 29 C, it said.India has already lost around three percent of available daylight working hours annually due to extreme heat, and without dramatic action to rein in global warming could be looking at eight percent respectively by 2085, the report showed.The report comes after 160 nations last week signed a historic agreement reached in Paris aimed at keeping a rise in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.But experts warn that capping the global temperature rise at that level will be difficult, with many expecting at least a 2 C rise. And if the world does not act to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, scientists say the world is heading for a 4 C warmer world.Thursday's report warned that even if global leaders manage to limit warming to 1.5 C, some of the hardest-hit areas will see an entire month of added extreme heat in 2030 compared to 2010.
<p>Emergency managers in Gulfport say 5 to 12 inches of rain fell during a thunderstorm, causing major street flooding and water entered some homes. Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy says the rain came down so fast Thursday morning, it had nowhere go.</p>
<p>On the evening of April 17, the Solar Dynamics Observatory observed the solar dynamic above, and captured rather beautiful false-color 4K video of it. Solar flares are caused--in some way--by magnetic disturbances in the sun, and can interfere with electromagnetic transmissions here on Earth, like the one you're probably watching the video on right now.</p>
A massive newly discovered lake may lie below the surface of Antarctica’s ice sheet, according to researchers. 
After warning for days about violent storms that could rake the central U.S. with huge hail, high winds and strong tornadoes, forecasters will review whether the messages they sent were appropriate for severe weather that some considered a "bust" because the tornadoes that did develop were small.
One homeowners’ association has even ordered residents to green up their lawns.
While dry air holds over much of New England, rounds of rain and storms will take aim on much of the mid-Atlantic into next week. A split in the jet stream...
<p>Springtime storms developed in parts of the Midwest and South on Wednesday, with forecasters warning that hail and high winds would be a bigger concern than tornadoes.</p>
Hail begins when so-called embryos of supercooled water form ice crystals. Imagine that an ice crystal is the ball in a game of meteorologic ping-pong played vertically.
<p>The percentage of conservative Republicans who consider global warming a threat shot up 19 points in two years, to 47 percent, according to public opinion researchers at Yale University and George Mason University. Overall, 56 percent of Republicans agree that it’s happening. Including Democrats and independents, the national average for the U.S. is 73 percent.</p>
Was your heating bill a bit friendlier to your wallet this winter? If so, there’s a good chance you can thank El Niño. 
A new effort is underway to build more disaster-resistant homes in the central United States, an area more prone to tornadoes and severe weather. The...
About 330 million people, almost a quarter of the country's population, are hit by India's worst drought in four decades.
More than half of all Americans live in areas that have dangerously high levels of either ozone or particle pollution.
<p>A striking new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope delivers a deep look into a mysterious cosmic object called the Red Rectangle Nebula.</p>
The National Weather Service was warning of the possibility of hail as big as grapefruits in some areas on Tuesday amid storms in parts of the central and eastern U.S. Some smaller hail — the size of quarters or smaller — had been reported in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas as of Tuesday afternoon. Large hail can cause heavy damage to...
Recent extreme weather events—be it England’s blistering 2014 summer or California’s drought last year—can be traced to human-generated emissions. But how far back have our…
The organization that names tropical storms and hurricanes says it will retire the names Erika, Joaquin and Patricia following the 2015 season.The World Meteorological Organization announced Monday that Elsa and Julian will be used for future storms in the Atlantic, while Pamela...
On April 25, 2015, a violent 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal—followed weeks later by a 7.3-magnitude aftershock—killing almost 9,000 people, injuring 22,000, and damaging or destroying nearly 800,000 homes. A year later, some of the debris has been cleared away, but very little reconstruction has taken place. Nepal held memorial services this weekend and Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli announced the start of some heritage site reconstruction projects. More than 600,000 Nepalese still live in temporary or unsafe housing.
Animals at Bangkok's zoo are being fed special frozen fruit pops. People are flocking to shopping malls just to soak up the air-conditioning. 
<p>Salt lakes, dust rivers and ice shelves were among the images captured by European Space Agency and NASA satellites last month.</p>
The Beaufort Sea is melting way ahead of schedule. The sea, which borders Alaska to the north, typically melts during the summer and re-freezes in the winter. But this year, pieces of it began detaching...
Step outside and look skyward this week during the late evening hours, around 11 p.m. What's the most prominent star pattern you...
The shimmering atmospheric lighting displays known as auroras have never looked sharper than in a new ultra-high-definition video that was shot in space.
Shifting diets away from meat could slash in half per capita greenhouse gas emissions related to eating habits worldwide and ward off additional deforestation — a major contributor to climate change, according to scientific findings published this week.
A funnel cloud was spotted in Texas City on Sunday, April 24, as thunderstorms hit southeast Texas. A tornado warning had earlier been issued for Harris and Galveston Counties. The NWS reported cloud rotation but had not confirmed there was a tornado. Credit: Eduardo Beltran
Stars appear to flow out like water from this stunning image of globular cluster M2. The image was taken by astrophotographer...
Analysis of difference between 1.5C and 2C of warming finds extra 0.5C would mean longer heatwaves, greater droughts and threats to crops and coral reefs
After a "monster" El Niño, questions are arising about if La Niña will follow and what that means for the United States.
Meteorologists are finding that it's easier to forecast stormy weather than it is to predict what goes on in the human mind.
Somewhere in the sky, in the guts of a storm, lightning is forming. Although it’s rare, with the odds of getting struck in your lifetime being roughly 1 in 12,000, every now and then a human will provide...
<p>Five years after a deadly tornado leveled towns, including portions of Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama, relief groups say that rebuilding communities are stronger than they were before.</p>
This year, Google is celebrating Earth Day, April 22, with five different Google Doodles illustrating some of the planet's major biomes: tundra, forest, grasslands, desert, and coral reefs. They're neat and definitely worth checking out. Personally, I like spending Earth Day looking through some of the best new discoveries we've made about this breathing, seething, blue-green planet of ours — the only place in the universe where life is known to exist. After all, a lot has changed since the very first Earth Day in 1970. Back then, America's most urgent environmental problems were air and water pollution. In the years since, we've made major progress mopping that up, only to confront fresh challenges like global warming and ocean acidification. Even today, our knowledge of the Earth keeps evolving with each passing year. We've uncovered brand-new geological features. We've brought endangered species back from the brink of extinction. We've transformed the atmosphere, for better and worse. So here's a list of some of the most surprising, hopeful, and worrisome things we've learned about Earth since the last Earth Day: 1) Scientists found an entirely new, 600-mile-long coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon (Wikimedia/NASA) Satellite image of mouths of Amazon River in Brazil, with Marajó Island in the center, and the cities (in red) of Macapá (left) and Belém (right). You'd think that, by now, we'd have mapped every last nook and cranny on this planet. Not so! We're still discovering new surprises all the time. This week, a team of Brazilian and American scientists told the Atlantic they'd discovered an entirely new coral reef spanning 3,600 square miles of ocean floor at the mouth of the Amazon River. Robinson Meyer recounts the backstory. Ever since the 1970s, people had suspected there might be a coral reef lurking on the ocean floor there, beneath the turbid waters. But no one knew for sure. Then, recently, a team of researchers journeyed to the region to study carbon dioxide absorption by the Amazon's freshwater plume. One of the scientists, Rodrigo Moura, brought along a dredge to check to see what was down beneath the surface. And jackpot: He pulled up coral, sponges, stars, and fish. Mind you, not all the coral reef news this year has been quite so wondrous. In Australia, scientists recently announced that 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef has succumbed to coral bleaching, a destructive phenomenon that occurs when ocean temperatures rise sharply. The coral expel their symbiotic algae, turning a ghastly white and becoming more vulnerable to disease. It's a real problem as global warming keeps boosting temperatures. Coral reefs are often thought of as the rain forests of the ocean, home to 25 percent of marine species. So conservationists are racing desperately to save them before they vanish altogether. In the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert recently wrote about scientists trying to breed hardier coral that can survive this new era of frequent bleaching. 2) We've discovered dozens of additional species — as well as a few thought to be extinct (Lieven Devreese) Photograph of the Bouvier’s red colobus (Piliocolobus bouvieri), long thought to be extinct. At this point, scientists have described about 1.5 million different species on the Earth. That sounds like a lot, but estimates suggest there are another 4 million species still waiting to be discovered. Researchers managed to chip away at that number over the past year. New discoveries include a cartwheeling spider in Morocco, a giant walking stick insect 9 inches long in Vietnam, and a new species of pufferfish off the coast of Japan that create intricate geometric spawning nests in the sand on the ocean floor. You can see more photos of some recent discoveries here. But one of the neatest discoveries last year wasn't even a new species. The Bouvier's red colobus monkey, which lives in the Republic of Congo, was thought to have gone extinct back in the 1970s — a victim of heavy logging and hunting. Then, in 2015, primatologists Lieven Devreese and Gaël Elie Gnondo Gobolo stumbled upon a mother and infant Bouvier's red colobus monkey while exploring the swamp forests along the Bokiba River and took a photo. It was the first confirmed sighting in decades of a species once believed gone forever. 3) Earth has 3 trillion trees — far more than we thought (David McNew/Getty Images) Just a few of our 3.04 trillion trees. In September 2015, in a groundbreaking study in Nature, a team of scientists combined both satellite imagery and ground-based surveys to estimate that the planet has 3.04 trillion trees — way, way, way more than the previous estimate of 400 billion. The researchers estimated that forest cover was most pervasive in the tropics and subtropics, which have some 1.39 trillion trees. Temperate forests have 610 billion trees and boreal forests in the far north have another 740 billion. Russia has by far the most trees — some 641 billion, much of them in Siberia. The United States has another 228 billion trees. Oh, except here's the not-so-good news: The researchers also estimated that Earth now has 46 percent fewer trees than existed before humans first started cutting them down thousands and thousands of years ago. What's more, they estimated that deforestation has accelerated in recent years: Logging, agriculture, wildfires, and pests contribute to the loss of about 15.3 billion trees each year, while about 5 billion end up growing back. (On the flip side, there have been a few notable forest conservationsuccesses lately, so the story isn't entirely bleak.) 4) We unearthed homo naledi, a new species of ancient human that once roamed the Earth This one was a major revelation: In September 2015, an international team of researchers announced that they'd discovered fossils of a new species of ancient human that, they believe, lived some 2 to 3 million years ago. It's name? Homo naledi. The story actually started years ago, when researchers discovered mysterious bone fragments — hundreds of them — in a cave in South Africa. Eventually, they realized this was a brand-new hominin, similar to Homo erectus, albeit with smaller brains. There's also some evidence that H. naledi may have buried its dead. My colleague Joseph Stromberg wrote about the discovery here: "When it comes to the study of human evolution, all this is a really big deal. To date, we know of only a handful of other species similar enough to us to fit in to our genus: Homo. Scientists will debate this designation for H. naledi — as they do for all newly discovered species — but the bottom line is that these fossils,
Jeffrey Johnson, associate professor of geosciences at Boise State University, contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
Classmates watch in horror
<p>April 22 is Earth Day, a world holiday celebrating our home planet — and so far, the only one we've got. Yet we're changing the face of Earth drastically via climate change. At times, it can seem like a massive, invisible process. But it isn't invisible. In this collection of images (from NASA, unless otherwise noted) you can see the unmistakable mark that human-induced climate change is making on the planet.</p>
<p>Every year on April 22, trees are planted, litter is cleaned up, and awareness for the issues plaguing the planet are raised. In honor of the holiday, now in its 46th year, we’ve gathered together 10 fascinating facts about Earth Day.</p>
It's nice to set aside a day out of the year to remember that, despite all of the imaginary borders we set up to define ourselves—our offices, neighborhoods, cities and, most importantly to many, countries—we're all spinning through space on the same blue sphere. After all, that's what will unite us when the aliens inevitably show up on the White House lawn one day. With all that in mind, for this year's Earth Day, let's check out some of the best images of our planet from space because there's nothing more sobering than the realization that all of human history is contained, as Carl Sagan would say, on a pale blue dot. NASA The EPIC Earth Named after the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC), this image of our home world was snapped from NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite from about one million miles away on July 6, 2015. It showcases a fully sunlit globe that is actually a combination of different photos stitched together. NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University Earthrise Dubbed 'Earthrise,' this image was captured in October 2015 when NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was 80 miles above the Moon's surface traveling 3,580 miles per hour. Despite the name of the picture, when viewed from the moon, the Earth doesn't actually rise because the moon is tidally locked, which means one side of it is always facing us. NASA/JPL-Caltech Pale Blue Dot The famous 'Pale Blue Dot' image is the first ever portrait of the Solar System. The Voyager 1 snapped this image on February 14, 1990 from 4 billion miles away. It's a great way to make yourself feel really, really small. The image is actually 60 different frames stitched together. NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring The Blue Marble NASA's Suomi NPP satellite took this image, dubbed the 'Blue Marble', on January 4, 2012. According to its researchers, the satellite was launched to "observe many facets of our changing Earth." ESA/NASA ISS Flies Over the Mediterranean ESA flight engineer Tim Peake captured this image of Earth while flying over the Mediterranean Sea on January 25, 2016. NASA Scott Kelly's Good Morning Picture During his year-long mission aboard the ISS, famed astronaut Scott Kelly took a plethora of images of Earth below. This one, which was captured on August 10, 2015, shows the Western United States. According to NASA, astronauts aboard the ISS experience 16 sunrises and sunsets every 'day.' NASA HD Sky View This image of Earth, taken by the Suomi NPP satellite after orbiting the globe six times, captures the sky above the Indian Ocean as Tropical Cyclone Joalane takes center stage. It was taken on April 9, 2015 by the Suomi NPP satellite after orbiting the globe six times. NASA/Barry Wilmore A View Of The Great Lakes From The ISS Taken by Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore on board the ISS, this image shows a remarkable nighttime view of the Great Lakes on December 7, 2014. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington False-Color Image of Earth's Plant Growth Captured by NASA’s Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft sometime in 2005, this image shows Earth's plant life through infrared light. Though it's not a true colorized image like many others, this unique image captures more detail because it substitutes blue light, which our atmosphere scatters, for infrared light. It also shows something about the health of plants, since the healthiest plants reflect the most infrared light. NASA Morning Aurora Another image taken by astronaut Scott Kelly on board the ISS during his year in space captures Earth's aurora in the early hours of October 7, 2015. Kelly posted the image on Twitter saying: "The daily morning dose of #aurora to help wake you up."
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