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Sensors detect rise in nuclear particles on Baltic Sea, global body says – Reuters India

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The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) headquarters are seen in Vienna, Austria September 28, 2017. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/Files

VIENNA (Reuters) – Radiation sensors in Stockholm have detected higher-than-usual but still harmless levels of isotopes produced by nuclear fission, probably from somewhere on or near the Baltic Sea, a body running a worldwide network of the sensors said on Friday.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) oversees a network of hundreds of monitoring stations that use seismic, hydroacoustic and other technology to check for a nuclear weapon test anywhere in the world. That technology can, however, be put to other uses as well.

One of its stations scanning the air for radionuclides – telltale radioactive particles that can be carried long distances by the wind – detected unusually high levels of three radionuclides earlier this week: caesium-134, caesium-137 and ruthenium-103.

The Stockholm monitoring station “detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health)”, CTBTO chief Lassina Zerbo said on Twitter on Friday evening.

The particles were detected on “22/23 June”, he added.

Zerbo’s post included a borderless map showing where the particles might have come from in the 72 hours before they were detected – a large area covering the tips of Denmark and Norway as well as southern Sweden, much of Finland, Baltic countries and part of western Russia including St Petersburg.

“These are certainly nuclear fission products, most likely from a civil source,” a spokeswoman for the Vienna-based CTBTO said, referring to the atomic chain reaction that generates heat in a nuclear reactor.

“We are able to indicate the likely region of the source, but it’s outside the CTBTO’s mandate to identify the exact origin,” she added.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by David Gregorio

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Industry, mild winters clear way for white-tailed deer 'invasion' in Alberta's boreal forest – CBC.ca

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Herds of invasive white-tailed deer continue to migrate north in Alberta’s boreal forest — bolstered by milder winters and human development that cuts through the vast wilderness, a new study suggests. 

The survey, recently published in the journal Nature, used 62 trail cameras to track the movements of white-tailed deer near Fort McMurray, Alta., over three years.

It’s a “deer invasion,” said Jason Fisher, study author and wildlife ecologist at the University of Victoria.

“They’re all over the landscape,” Fisher said. “They’re expanding their range. And because they’re having these negative effects on the ecosystem, they could definitely be considered invasive.” 

The cameras captured more than 141,000 images, and white-tailed deer appeared in 80 per cent of them. The survey makes clear that deer are now, by far, the most prevalent large mammal in the habitat, Fisher said.

“We’re kind of feeling around in the dark. But them being there in the numbers they currently are is definitely new, it’s definitely increased, and it’s gotten a lot worse over the last decade.” 

‘Deer don’t really belong in that landscape’

Deer are not native to the boreal forest and their populations are thriving, often at the expense of other species, including fragile populations of woodland caribou, Fisher said. 

The deer create imbalances in the natural food chain. The herds compete with other animals, devouring the boreal forest’s limited grazing lands. Their presence also draws more predators such as wolves to the area.

It’s like a caribou, white-tailed deer teeter-totter with wolves as the fulcrum.– Jason Fisher

“The deer don’t really belong in that landscape,” Fisher said. “They’re not evolved to move quickly over snow the way that caribou are, and so they’re easy targets for wolves. 

“With all these white-tailed deer around, that’s pushing wolf numbers up. With more wolves around, they’re hitting caribou harder.

“It’s like a caribou, white-tailed deer teeter-totter with wolves as the fulcrum. And that’s the big problem.” 

Higher numbers of white-tailed deer are attracting wolves to the area, putting increased pressure on fragile populations of woodland caribou. (Supplied by Jason Fisher)

Historically confined to the Eastern Seaboard, deer have been expanding their territory across the continent since European colonization. First they followed farmers, occupying open areas created when land was cleared of trees.

In their move north, they followed humans again, taking advantage of open grazing areas created by seismic lines and other industrial developments that cut through the thick bush.

“As agriculture swept across North America, white-tailed deer have come with it,” Fisher said. “The increase we’re seeing here in Alberta now is basically the continuation of that process. Alberta has had deer in the south ever since we’ve had agriculture. But the move north is a pretty recent phenomenon.” 

Local populations of deer have been able to rebound after even the harshest winters. (Supplied by Jason Fisher)

The study area — 3,000 square kilometres of white and black spruce, aspen, Jack pine and muskeg — is marked by extensive oil and gas development, logging roads, off-road trails and seismic lines. Deer have only been in the area for a couple of decades, Fisher said. 

Aerial surveys done by the province provide some information on local populations, Fisher said, but his team wanted to better understand the animals in relation to the weather and the landscape. 

According to the thousands of images captured by their cameras, deer were most numerous in areas touched by human development, he said. 

During the three-year study, the severity of winter fluctuated. Populations would soar after a mild winter, but even after a “biblical” second winter, herd numbers appeared relatively untouched, he said. 

‘This isn’t fully a climate-change problem’

Climate change and landscape change are working in tandem to drive the deer invasion, Fisher said. But the loss of mature forest to oil and gas development in the area is the biggest driver, he said.

The altered landscape has given the animals access to new foraging grounds, allowing them to withstand harsh seasons when they might normally starve, Fisher said. 

In an ongoing follow-up study he is overseeing in the Richardson Backcountry, an untouched swath of wilderness north of Fort McMurray, deer numbers are sparse. 

With milder winters expected and more development encroaching into the boreal habitat every year, white-tailed deer territory will only continue to grow, Fisher said.

“This isn’t fully a climate-change problem,” he said. “As long as there is ongoing disturbance in the landscape without restoration, then the white-tailed deer are going to be there.” 

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Lunar Eclipse July 2020: Date, Timings, and How to Watch Live Stream – Gadgets 360

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July 4 will mark the third lunar eclipse for 2020. People in certain regions will be able to witness penumbral lunar eclipse, also being referred to as a “buck moon” lunar eclipse. It also coincides with the US Independence Day which is good news for US residents as they are among the people who will get to witness this celestial phenomenon. The first lunar eclipse of 2020 was in January, followed by the second in June, making it the third lunar eclipse for the year. Unfortunately, people in India will not be able directly see the eclipse.

Lunar eclipse July 2020: What is a penumbral lunar eclipse?

A penumbral lunar eclipse (upchaya chandra grahan in Hindi) is when the Earth blocks some of the Sun’s light from directly reaching the Moon and the outer part of the Earth’s shadow, called the ‘penumbra’, covers all or part of the Moon. This type of eclipse is harder to spot as the penumbra is fainter compared to the dark core of the Earth’s shadow called ‘umbra’. Because of this, a penumbral lunar eclipse is sometimes mistaken as a full Moon.

As per NASA, as there will be a full moon at 12:44am EDT on July 5 (10:14am IST on July 5) and will be the first full Moon of summer (US), the Algonquin tribes used to call this full Moon the Buck Moon.

When will the lunar eclipse occur?

As per data by TimeandDate, the lunar eclipse will start at 11:07pm EDT on July 4 (8:37am IST on July 5) and reach its peak at 12:29am EDT on July 5 (9:59am IST on July 5). It will last for 2 hours and 45 minutes after which the lunar eclipse will end at 1:52am EDT on July 5 (11:22 am IST on July 5).

Who will be able to witness the lunar eclipse?

Unfortunately, this lunar eclipse of July 4-5 will not be visible in India. However, people in much of North America, South America, South/West Europe, much of Africa, Indian Ocean, Pacific, Antarctica, and Atlantic will be able to witness it.

How to watch the July 2020 lunar eclipse?

The penumbral lunar eclipse, and other such celestial events are often streamed on popular YouTube channels including Slooh and the website Virtual Telescope. If you live in one of the regions where this lunar eclipse will be visible, you should be able to watch it without any special equipment.


WWDC 2020 had a lot of exciting announcements from Apple, but which are the best iOS 14 features for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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B.C. white throated sparrows become trend setters: 20 year study finds birds change tune – CKPGToday.ca

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Researchers say they still don’t know what made the new song so compelling to the sparrows mentioning that it is well known that some bird species change their songs overtime but that they usually tend to stay in local populations.

“When I first moved to Prince George in British Columbia, they were singing something atypical from what was the classic white-throated sparrow song across all of eastern Canada.”—Ken Otter, UNBC Professor

In the 1960’s white-throated sparrows across the nation whistled their song which at the time ended in a repeated three-note triplet but come the 1990’s the song had already changed in western Canada, according to Otter.

Otter and his team utilized a large network of citizen scientist birders across North America who had uploaded recordings of the white throated sparrow songs online to track the new ending. Their findings showed that the song wasn’t just popular west of the Rocky Mountains but was spreading quickly east.

“Originally, we measured the dialect boundaries in 2004 and it stopped about halfway through Alberta.”—Ken Otter, UNBC Professor

“By 2014, every bird we recorded in Alberta was singing this western dialect, and we started to see it appearing in populations as far away as Ontario, which is 3,000 kilometers from us,” said Otter.

Otter says that they believed perhaps overwintering grounds were the reason for the song change. “We know that birds sing on the wintering grounds, so juvenile males may be able to pick up new song types if they overwinter with birds from other dialect areas. This would allow males to learn new song types in the winter and take them to new locations when they return to breeding grounds, helping explain how the song type could spread,” Otter says.

Further research found that the overwintering grounds did in fact play a part to the change in tune and that the original tune was completely being replaced by the sparrows new tune.

“In white-throated sparrows, we might find a situation in which the females actually like songs that aren’t typical in their environment. If that’s the case, there’s a big advantage to any male who can sing a new song type.”—Ken Otter, UNBC Professor

Otter and his team are curious to find out if the new tune may be preferred by female birds used to the three note ending song. Otter says that now a new song has appeared in another western sparrow population and are excited to see if this tune to takes over the country.

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