Nature

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Brazilian Pantanal reports 8,106 fires in September; 2020 already has the largest number of fire outbreaks in history
Brazilian Pantanal reports 8,106 fires in September; 2020 already has the largest number of fire outbreaks in history
Credit: Christiano Antonucci – Secom – MT

Three months before the end, 2020 is also the year with the largest number of fire outbreaks in the Pantanal: from January 1 to September 30, there were 18,259 outbreaks.

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Jacques Cousteau’s Grandson Wants to Build the International Space Station of the Sea
Fabien Cousteau
Fabien Cousteau Credit: World Travel & Tourism Council (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Off the coast of Curaçao, at a depth of 60 feet, aquanaut Fabien Cousteau is looking to create the world’s largest underwater research habitat.

Fabien Cousteau's Proteus will be the first underwater research habitat built in decades. (Concept designs by Yves Béhar and fuseproject)

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Fallen Boulder Reveals 313 Million-Year-Old Fossil Footprints At Grand Canyon
Fallen Boulder Reveals 313 Million-Year-Old Fossil Footprints At Grand Canyon
Credit: U.S. National Park Service / U.S. National Park Service

A geologist has discovered a pair of fossil footprints that researchers say are the oldest of their kind in the Grand Canyon, dating back 313 million years.

Researchers said the fossils show two animals passing at different times along the slope of a sand dune.

The findings were published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

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Survey: Women in large German cities face threats and harassment
Survey: Women in large German cities face threats and harassment
Credit: unsplash.com / Markus Spiske

According to a survey by the children's aid organization "Plan" among 1,000 respondents between 16 and 71 years of age, the fear of harassment, threats, and insults is great. Big cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne or Munich stand out here. One in five respondents stated in the survey that they had been the victim of a crime such as insults, threats or harassment. Girls and women feel most unsafe on the open street, followed directly by public transport and parks.

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An asteroid and not a volcanic eruption killed the dinosaurs, study finds
Artist's impression of a 1000km-diameter planetoid hitting a young Earth.
Artist's impression of a 1000km-diameter planetoid hitting a young Earth. Credit: Don Davis (work commissioned by NASA) / Public domain

For decades scientists believed the reason for the mass extinction of dinosaurs and three-quarters of all life on earth 66 million years ago was a prolonged period of climate change caused by volcanic activity. A new study by researchers from the Imperial College London just disproved this theory: turns out it was an asteroid impact that struck Earth which also created the Chicxulub impact crater in southeast Mexico. According to the study, only an asteroid impact could have created conditions that made Earth uninhabitable.

“We show that the asteroid caused an impact winter for decades, and that these environmental effects decimated suitable environments for dinosaurs. In contrast, the effects of the intense volcanic eruptions were not strong enough to substantially disrupt global ecosystems,” so the lead researcher Alessandro Chiarenza in his statement. “Our study confirms, for the first time quantitatively, that the only plausible explanation for the extinction is the impact winter that eradicated dinosaur habitats worldwide.”

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Asian giant hornets surfaces in British Columbia, Canada

The Asian giant hornet, colloquially known as the murder hornet, has been spotted in Lower Mainland, British Columbia, miles away from Washington State where it was spotted first. Provincial Apiculturist Paul Van Westendorp confirmed the identity of the specimen, who will perform both an autopsy and a DNA sequencing to determine its origin.

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Study shows erosion of ozone layer responsible for mass extinction event

Researchers at the University of Southampton have found evidence showing high levels of UV radiation, caused by a brief breakdown of the ozone layer, collapsed forest ecosystems and killed off many species of fish and tetrapods in an extinction event at the end of the Devonian geological period, 359 million years ago.

The ozone collapse occurred as the climate rapidly warmed pushing more naturally generated ozone-destroying chemicals into the upper atmosphere. Researchers suggest that the Earth today could reach comparable temperatures, possibly triggering a similar event.

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Researchers found highest recorded level of microplastics on seafloor
Underwater particles reflecting light
Underwater particles reflecting light Credit: unsplash.com/@cristianpalmer

A team of researchers found the highest levels of microplastics ever recorded on the seafloor with up to 1.9 million particles per square meter.

Each year over 10 million tons of plastic waste finds its way into the oceans, though only 1% is found in shallower waters while 99% is thought to occur in the deep oceans, where microplastics and plastic fragments get transported by deep-sea currents where they are concentrated in 'microplastic hotspots'.

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Asian giant hornets spotted in the US
Asian giant hornets spotted in the US
Credit: wikimedia/NUMBER7isBEST (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Asian giant hornet, also called murder hornet, has been spotted in the US, mainly in Washington State. Beekeepers have reported thousands of dead bees with their heads ripped off. The hornets are over two inches (5 centimetres) long and can kill a beehive in hours. It's still unclear how the hornets came to the US.

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Scientists discover fossil trace evidence for rain forest in Antarctica

A team of researchers from the United Kingdom and Germany has discovered fossil traces of a rain forest 90 million years old near the South Pole. The analysis of the findings such as preserved roots, pollen and spores have shown that the world was warmer during that time than previously expected. Professor Ulrich Salzman, a co-author and palaeoecologist at Northumbria University said that “The numerous plant remains indicate that the coast of West Antarctica was, back then, a dense temperate, swampy forest, similar to the forests found in New Zealand today".