Scientists return from Arctic with wealth of climate data

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BERLIN (AP) — An icebreaker carrying scientists on a year-long international effort to study the high Arctic has returned to its home port in Germany carrying a wealth of data that will help researchers better predict climate change in the decades to come.

The RV Polarstern arrived Monday in the North Sea port of Bremerhaven, from where she set off more than a year ago prepared for bitter cold and polar bear encounters — but not for the pandemic lockdowns that almost scuttled the mission half-way through.

“We basically achieved everything we set out to do,” the expedition’s leader, Markus Rex, told The Associated Press by satellite phone as it left the polar circle last week. “We conducted measurements for a whole year with just a short break.”

The ship had to break away from its position in the far north for three weeks in May to pick up supplies and rotate team members after coronavirus restrictions disrupted carefully laid travel plans, but that didn’t cause significant problems to the mission, he said.

“We’re bringing back a trove of data, along with countless samples of ice cores, snow and water,” said Rex, an atmospheric scientist at Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Ocean Research that organized the expedition.

More than 300 scientists from 20 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China took part in the 150-million-euro ($177-million) expedition to measure conditions in one of the most remote and hostile parts of the planet over the course of a whole year.

Much of the information will be used to improve scientists’ models of global warming, particularly in the Arctic, where change has been happening at a faster pace than elsewhere on the planet.

As part of the expedition, known by its acronym MOSAiC, the Polarstern anchored to


After 3,000 years, Tasmanian devils return to mainland Australia

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The pitter-patter of Tasmanian devil feet was heard in the wild of mainland Australia for the first time in 3,000 years, after a group of devils was released in Barrington Tops, a protected national park about 120 miles (200 kilometers) north of Sydney.

Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii), the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial, have been long gone from most of the Australian continent, and until now the only remaining wild populations were on the island of Tasmania. Mainland devils were likely outcompeted by dingos, the wild dogs that were introduced to Australia at least 3,500 years ago, and which are now considered a pest species.

However, a decade of dingo eradication has offered Tasmanian devils a second chance. By clearing out dingos and reintroducing devils to Barrington Tops, conservationists hope to not only reestablish thriving wild populations of the iconic marsupials, but to also help protect other native species that are threatened by invasive predators, according to a statement released on Oct. 5 by Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC).

Related: Australia’s struggling marsupial: Photos of the Tasmanian devil

Aussie Ark, a wildlife nonprofit in Australia, has been breeding and studying Tasmanian devils for more than a decade, with the goal of eventually reintroducing devils into the wild once conditions were sustainable for their survival, according to the statement. For the recent release, Aussie Ark partnered with GWC and WildArk, another wildlife conservation nonprofit; they released 11 Tasmanian devils on Sept. 10.

Tasmanian devils are black-furred and stocky with blunt muzzles and short limbs, measuring about 22 to 26 inches (55 to 65 centimeters) long and standing about 12 inches (30 cm) high at the shoulder, according to the Australian Museum. Devils on the island of Tasmania were safe from dingos, which never got a foothold there. But Tasmania’s


After 3,000 Years Away, Tasmanian Devils Return to Australia With Help From Chris Hemsworth

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Thor is taking a break from saving humans with the Avengers to turn his attention to a slightly smaller animal.

Chris Hemsworth and his wife, fellow actor Elsa Pataky, recently helped conservationists release 11 Tasmanian devils into a nearly 1000-acre wildlife sanctuary in mainland Australia. The last time a Tasmanian devil set its paw on the soil of Australia’s mainland was over 3,000 years ago, according to a release from Global Wildlife Conservation.

The Australian actor and conservationists released these animals in an effort to “rewild” Australia — the country with the world’s worst mammal extinction rate. Aussie Ark, in partnership with Global Wildlife Conservation and WildArk, started this project over 10 years ago and is proud to finally have a former animal resident back on Australian soil.

“In 100 years, we are going to be looking back at this day as the day that set in motion the ecological restoration of an entire country,” Tim Faulkner, president of Aussie Ark, said in a statement. “Not only is this the reintroduction of one of Australia’s beloved animals, but of an animal that will engineer the entire environment around it, restoring and rebalancing our forest ecology after centuries of devastation from introduced foxes and cats and other invasive predators. Because of this reintroduction and all of the hard work leading up to it, someday we will see Tasmanian devils living throughout the great eastern forests as they did 3,000 years ago.”

Courtesy WildArk

Tasmanian devil population numbers need a boost due to a string of hardships that started over 3,000 years ago with the introduction of the dingo,  a pack animal that pushed the Tasmanian devil out of mainland Australia. In Tasmania, the island state that most Tasmanian devils currently call home, the animals are threatened by “a transmissible, painful and


Deejay Dallas gets first touches, Travis Homer gets first career TD in return to Miami

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The Seattle Seahawks improved to 4-0 for this season after beating the Miami Dolphins on Sunday 31-23.

For two running backs with the Seahawks, Sunday’s game and where they played brought back a lot of memories and meant more to them than just another game.

Rooking running back Deejay Dallas and second-year running back Travis Homer both were teammates and played for the Miami Hurricanes during their college years, and both were able to see the field on Sunday as they did on the field on Saturday’s.

Running back Chris Carson suffered a sprained knee agains the Dallas Cowboys last week. Although he scored two touchdowns and seemed like his old self, the Seahawks brought in Dallas and Homer to help pick up the slack if Carson needed a rest.

Homer recorded the first touchdown catch of his NFL career, and Dallas saw his first two carries of his career for a total of eight yards.

After the game, Dallas wasn’t worried about the numbers but was reminiscent of being back at Hard Rock.

“It just kind of came back around full circle,” Dallas said about getting his first touches in his NFL career. “ I remember scoring my first touchdown as a Hurricane in Hard Rock, and today I got my first carry as a Seahawk in Hard Rock. It came back around full circle.”

Both Dallas and Homer were effective when they got their chances on the field, and with Carson leading the pack in his group, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf knows that the running back group is talented on all fronts.


“We got backs for days in my opinion,” Metcalf said. “I think Deejay Dallas really stepped up and showed up, Homer got the first touchdown of his career. I mean we got a lot of great


Tasmanian devils return to mainland Australia for first time in 3,000 years

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It’s been 3,000 years since the Tasmanian devil’s raspy shriek rang through the forests of mainland Australia. But now, thanks to a dogged reintroduction effort, 26 of these endangered tiny terrors have returned.

No bigger than a lapdog, these marsupials are famous for their ferocity and powerful jaws, which can reduce large carcasses to smithereens in minutes. But in the 1990s, the species was hit with a contagious and deadly mouth cancer, causing its only remaining wild population, on the Australian island state of Tasmania, to drop to just 25,000 animals.

It’s unknown why the species disappeared from Australia millennia ago, but it’s likely due to human actions—when early hunters killed off most of the continent’s megafauna, the devils had nothing left to eat.

As scavengers, devils play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced, healthy ecosystem—which is why scientists have been trying so hard to bring them back.

“We’ve worked for over a decade to get to this point,” says Tim Faulkner, president of AussieArk, a species recovery organization. The group collaborates closely with the nonprofits Global Wildlife Conservation and WildArk to orchestrate the release of captive-raised animals into a thousand-acre fenced area called Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary, just north of Barrington Tops National Park in eastern Australia.

Despite their fearsome reputation, “they’re no threat to humans or agriculture,” he adds.

Even still, reintroducing animals is uncertain business, so the scientists did a soft launch of 15 devils in March of this year. The team used radio-collars to check in on the released devils, as well as put out kangaroo carcasses for food as the animals adjusted to their new home. After all of the devils showed signs of thriving, the scientists felt optimistic enough to release another 11 individuals on September 10—and now they beasts are mostly on their