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The Latest: Progress made on California's largest wildfire

The Latest: Progress made on California's largest wildfire

Technology
The Latest on California wildfires (all times local): 8 p.m. Firefighters are making progress against the largest California wildfire ever recorded although thousands of homes and buildings remain under threat. State fire officials Wednesday night say the Mendocino Complex — twin fires that are being fought together — has destroyed 119 homes and 472 square miles (1,222 square kilometers) of brush and timber north of San Francisco. The complex is 47 percent contained. However, the smaller of the two blazes actually is 81 percent surrounded. Fire crews have kept the southern edge from spreading. Authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders for most communities near the resort of Clear Lake. Meanwhile, a fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes in and around Redding in Northe...
Lemur losses could threaten Madagascar's largest tree species

Lemur losses could threaten Madagascar's largest tree species

Science
July 2 (UPI) -- Madagascar's largest tree species are under threat. So are the island nation's iconic primates, its lemurs. Healthy forests are essential to Madagascar's lemurs, and new research suggests the trees need healthy lemur populations to survive. They rely on each other. "Forest loss is a huge problem in Madagascar right now, but our study suggests that just saving the trees is not enough," Amy Dunham, associate professor of biosciences at Rice University, said in a news release. Lemurs disperse the seeds of Madagascar's largest hardwood species. And as the new research showed, lemurs are the only animals on the island large enough to ingest the seeds found inside the fruits of Madagascar's largest tree species. During a previous survey, scientists tracked the diets of 24 group...
Satellite image shows rain puddles in the world's largest contiguous sand desert

Satellite image shows rain puddles in the world's largest contiguous sand desert

Science
June 15 (UPI) -- An image shared by NASA this week features a rare sight, rain puddles in Rub' al-Khali, the world's largest contiguous sand desert. At the end of May, the tropical cyclone Mekunu passed across the Arabian Peninsula. The port of Salalah, in Oman, received 11 inches of rain in just 24 hours -- two times the city's average annual precipitation total. The storm slowed and dissipated as it traveled inland across the desert, but still had plenty of moisture left to drop. On May 29, three days after the storm, Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager snapped a picture of the dunes of Rub' al-Khali as the satellite passed 435 miles overhead. The basins between the sand dunes can be seen filled with standing water. NASA shared the remarkable image online this week. The portion of the ...
78-foot wave off New Zealand largest ever in Southern Hemisphere

78-foot wave off New Zealand largest ever in Southern Hemisphere

Science
May 11 (UPI) -- Scientists believe a 78-foot wave that formed off the coast of New Zealand this week is the largest wave ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. A storm close to the Southern Ocean's Campbell Island, a low-pressure system and 65-knot winds helped create prime conditions for the wave to form. "To our knowledge, it is the largest wave ever recorded in the southern hemisphere," said Tom Durrant, senior oceanographer at New Zealand's MetService, adding the Southern Ocean is the "most energetic part" of the world's oceans for producing waves. A buoy recorded the 80-foot wave, but Durrant said the storm likely created bigger waves in other locations. The Southern Ocean comprises the southernmost waters of the world's ocean, the water surrounding Antarctica. Storms generated t...
Kew Gardens: World's largest glasshouse reopens

Kew Gardens: World's largest glasshouse reopens

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceLondon's Kew Gardens is to reopen its Temperate House - the world's largest Victorian glasshouse - after a five-year restoration. For the first time in its history, the Grade I-listed structure was "stripped back to bare metal" and modernised. More than 5,280 litres (1,160 gallons) of paint was used, enough to cover four football pitches, and 15,000 panes of glass replaced. The house will open to the public on Saturday, 5 May.The vast greenhouse is now home to a geographically arranged collection of 10,000 plants from of temperate climates around the world - areas sometimes described as "the Goldilocks zone" of the planet, where plants are safe from frost. These include some of the rarest and most threatened specimens, for which the botanic garde...