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Reindeer Herders Find Well-Preserved Mammoth Bones in Siberian Lake
By Kristie Pladson
Russian scientists are excavating the well-preserved skeleton of a woolly mammoth found in a lake in northern Siberia, The Associated Press reported Friday.
Fragments of the skeleton, which still has some ligaments attached, were discovered by local reindeer herders near the shore of Pechevalavato Lake in Russia's Yamal-Nenets region earlier this week.
The herders found part of the mammoth's skull, several ribs and a fragment of its foot with ligament still attached.
"The lake bottom mud may hold the rest of the mammoth skeleton," Dmitry Frolov, the head of the Research Center for Arctic Studies, told Russian news agency TASS.
"It is necessary to record the exact location of the remains for further studies," he added.
Full Excavation Will Take Time
On Friday, Russian television stations showed footage of scientists looking for more mammoth bones in the lakeside silt.
Several larger fragments have already been found following the original discovery this week. However, excavating the rest of the skeleton will require significant time and special equipment, assuming it all survived in position together, the scientists said.
Finding a complete mammoth skeleton is relatively rare, said Yevgeniya Khozyainova of the Shemanovsky Institute in Salekhard in televised remarks.
Heat Wave Melting Siberia's Permafrost
Experts believe woolly mammoths died out around 10,000 years ago. Reaching 5.5 meters (18 feet) in height and weighing up to 12 tons, they were around twice the size and weight of today's elephant.
The carcasses of several well-preserved mammoths have been uncovered in the permafrost of northern Siberia in recent years, as the region faces a rapid change of climate.
Siberia is currently experiencing a heat wave, in another warning sign to climate experts who believe rising temperatures could melt the permafrost and release huge amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere . On Friday, the UN weather agency warned that last month's average temperatures there were 10 degrees Celsius (18 Fahrenheit) above normal.
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.
High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.
Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.
California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.
As reported by AccuWeather:
In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.
For a deeper dive:
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By Monir Ghaedi
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep most of Europe on pause, the EU aims for a breakthrough in its space program. The continent is seeking more than just a self-sufficient space industry competitive with China and the U.S.; the industry must also fit into the European Green Deal.
European satellites continue to provide data on climate change.