July was the hottest month ever recorded in the United States, according to a monthly climate review from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last month's temperatures, averaging 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, beat out the 1930s Dust Bowl era record by 3.3 degrees. Higher-than-average temperatures have contributed to wildfires and widespread drought. “This clearly shows a longer-term warming trend in the U.S., not just one really hot month,” Jake Crouch, a climatologist at the agency’s National Climatic Data Center, told the New York Times. Last month, NOAA, which has been keeping track of national temperature records since 1895, announced that the past year was the hottest on record.
An Australian rescue team is headed to McMurdo Station in Antarctica to evacuate an unidentified American expeditioner in need of medical attention in the dead of the polar winter. An A319 Airbus carrying a specialist medical team has been dispatched to Christchurch, New Zealand, where it is awaiting favorable weather and light before departing for McMurdo Sound. The station has one of the few runways in Antarctica that can accomodate aircraft with wheels, a McMurdo spokesperson said. Medical evacuations are rare in Antarctica, particularly in winter, when a pilot will have to rely on "some twilight at midday" for visibility during landing.
The World Anti-Doping Agency declared Tuesday that it supports the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation of Lance Armstrong and disagrees with the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) efforts to take over jurisdiction of the case. Armstrong is asking a federal judge to stop the USADA-led investigation and turn the matter over to the UCI. While the UCI has backed his efforts, WADA issued a public statement and sent UCI president Pat McQuaid a letter clearly stating that USADA has jurisdiction in the case. “WADA can confirm that it has written to UCI President Pat McQuaid stating that it disagrees with the comments made by the UCI in its statement of August 4, and that as the independent agency responsible for leading the fight against doping in sport WADA has urged the UCI to reconsider its position and provide ‘all support to USADA in the conduct of this case, including all documents required by them.'”
Diseased trees may be a significant source of methane gas contributing to climate change, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters. The methane-producing trees are outwardly healthy but hollowed out by fungal infections. The new space provides an opening for methane-producing microorganisms called methanogens. “If we extrapolate these findings to forests globally, the methane produced in trees represents 10 percent of global emissions,” said Xuhui Lee, a co-author of the study and Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor of Meteorology at Yale. “We didn’t know this pathway existed.”
Five days after the first-ever Saudi Arabian woman competed in the Olympics, the total has doubled. Sarah Attar, a 19-year-old Saudi middle-distance runner, ran in a preliminary 800m race Wednesday morning. She finished in last place—more than 30 seconds behind the next best runner—with a time of 2 minutes, 44.95 seconds. But that’s not really the point here. "For women in Saudi Arabia, I think this can really spark something to get more involved in sports, to become more athletic," said Attar, who ran in a long-sleeved jacket, pants, and a hood. "Maybe in the next Olympics, we can have a very strong team to come." Born in California, Attar has an American mother and a Saudi father. She runs track at Pepperdine University.