Since the beginning of 2020, the East African country of Kenya has been battling the nation's worst desert locust outbreak in over 70 years. The destructive swarms, some as big as three times the size of New York City — an estimated 192 billion insects — are eating their way through thousands of acres of crops and animal pastures, decimating livelihoods in the process. Even worse, the locusts, which arrived from neighboring Somalia and Ethiopia, are now spreading to other countries, including Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Congo.
California's Yosemite National Park is home to numerous stunning waterfalls. However, from mid-to-late February each year, the unlikely star of the pristine preserve is Horsetail Fall — a small, nondescript waterfall that forms over the eastern edge of the park's famous vertical rock formation, El Capitan, every winter. That's because, during the two-week-period, the temporary 1,000-foot fall frequently transforms into a spectacular "firefall" for about ten minutes a day during sunset.
In what can only be described as an extraordinary engineering feat, NASA scientists have remotely fixed a software glitch on the Voyager 2 probe, which lies 11.5 billion miles away at the edge of a transitional region of space. Known as the heliosphere, it is a vast, bubble-like area that surrounds the Sun and the Solar System.
A shark that walks in water instead of swimming might sound like a creature straight out of a science fiction thriller. However, that is precisely how the four new species of the fish — found in the tropical waters of the Indo-Australian archipelago — move across the seafloor. The unique ocean dwellers were discovered by a team of scientists, led by Dr. Christine Dudgeon from Australia's University of Queensland, during a 12-year global conservation study.
If you have felt the skies above you seem increasingly empty of chirping birds, you are not alone. A 2018 study by BirdLife International revealed that 40 percent of the world’s 11,000 bird species are in decline, and one in eight bird species is threatened with global extinction. Now, some scientists are using cutting-edge technology to revive the critically-endangered kākāpō; if successful, the techniques used may help save other bird species as well.
Though bushfires are a common occurrence in Australia during the summer, they have never been as devastating or as widespread as the ones currently burning across the country. Since September 2019, the blazes, fueled by dry foliage and strong winds, have scorched over 15.6 million acres (24,000 square miles) — an area larger than the state of West Virginia. Even worse, officials warn that Australia's wildfire season — which generally lasts through March — is nowhere near its end.
With no brains or nerve cells, single-cellular microorganisms are often regarded to be simple, primitive beings with few capabilities. However, a new Harvard University study suggests that protozoans, like Stentor roeselii, have the smarts to make "complex" decisions when confronted with unpleasant situations.
It is often said that "a picture is worth a thousand words." That is certainly true of the mesmerizing images of fleeting moments of nature submitted by international ecologists and students for the British Ecological Society's (BES) annual photography competition. Here are a few of 2019's winning entries, announced on November 28, 2019.