Rain or shine: Watching the weather for 250 years

Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder on the roof of the Engineering Science building, Oxford, the longest sunshine record in the world Image copyright Ian Curtis, University of Oxford
Image caption A Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder: Oxford's sunshine record goes back to February 1880

Come rain or shine, come howling gale or thick fog - Oxford doctoral student Emma Howard must keep her 09:00 appointment. Two hundred and fifty years of history demand it.

Emma is one of the data recorders who manually reads off the weather instruments positioned on the lawn next to the Radcliffe Observatory in Green Templeton College.

If she can't do it, a colleague must.

Temperature on this spot has been measured every single day since Sunday, 14 November 1813, making it the longest, unbroken, single-site time series of its kind in the British Isles, and one of the longest in the world.

"It's fantastic to be involved with the Radcliffe record, but I'm also terrified of something going wrong and messing up this wonderful thing," she says.

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Indonesia tsunami: How a volcano can be the trigger

Sentinel-1 image Image copyright Copernicus Data/Sentinel Hub/@HarelDan
Image caption Europe's Sentinel-1 satellite shows the western side of the volcano changed shape

Nobody had any clue. There was certainly no warning. It's part of the picture that now suggests a sudden failure in the west-southwest flank of the Anak Krakatau volcano was a significant cause of Saturday's devastating tsunami in the Sunda Strait.

Of course everyone in the region will have been aware of Anak Krakatau, the volcano that emerged in the sea channel just less than 100 years ago. But its rumblings and eruptions have been described by local experts as relatively low-scale and semi-continuous.

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Climate secrets of the world's most remote island

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Media captionThe world's loneliest island can help us better understand the winds blowing around Antarctica

"It's impressive, beautiful and scary as hell to work on."

Welcome to Bouvet Island, a small volcanic rock in the South Atlantic.

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Archaeopteryx: The day the fossil feathers flew

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Media captionModern scanning techniques show Archaeopteryx is no fake

There is no greater insult you can hurl at a museum than to suggest its prize fossil is a fake.

But that's what the esteemed astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle did in 1985 when he doubted the authenticity of arguably the most priceless possession in the collections of what is now London's Natural History Museum (NHM). All hell broke loose as the claim made headlines around the world.

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Marvels of the deep and their superpowers

Vent system Image copyright NOAA
Image caption A vent system belching hot water and surrounded by tubeworms

Maggie Georgieva is turning a jar of preservative around in her hands. "This is it," she says. "This is 'The Hoff' - the famous yeti crab with a hairy chest," referring to the object suspended in alcohol.

Most of us would be hard pressed to name a recently discovered creature from the deep, and this animal may even be the only one that triggers any sort of recognition.

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The 'monster' iceberg: What happened next?

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Media captionThe giant iceberg A-68 has shuffled northwards over the past 12 months

It was a wow! moment. The world's biggest berg, a block of ice a quarter the size of Wales, fell off the Antarctic exactly a year ago. But what then? We've gone back to find out.

Weighing a trillion tonnes and covering an area of nearly 6,000 sq km, the colossus dubbed A-68 has kind of spent the past 12 months shuffling on the spot - rather like a driver trying to get themselves out of a tight parking spot at the supermarket.

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Animals with 'night vision goggles'

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Media captionGeoff Boxshall: "The exhibition is about the senses you need to survive in Earth's dark environments"

A tarsier is known for its big, beady eyes, but it's only when you look at a skull of this diminutive South East Asian primate that you realise just how big they are.

Each one is the same size as its brain. They can't move their eyeballs; if they want to look to the right or left they have to turn their whole head. But the mere fact that tarsiers have these monster organs tells you one thing: vision is very important to them.

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Aeolus: Wind satellite weathers technical storm

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Media captionAeolus wind satellite: Take a look inside the spacecraft

They say there is no gain without pain, but when the European Space Agency (Esa) set out in 2002 to develop its Aeolus satellite, no-one could have imagined the grief the project would bring.

Designed to make the most comprehensive maps of winds across the Earth, the mission missed deadline after deadline as engineers struggled to get its key technology - an ultraviolet laser system - working for long enough to make the venture worth flying.

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Rats driven from South Georgia's wildlife paradise

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Media captionListen to the song of the South Georgia Pipit - free now from predation by rats

They have gone, or so it seems.

The biggest rat eradication programme ever undertaken appears to have rid South Georgia island in the South Atlantic of its pest problem.

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Europe's Mars rover takes shape

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Media captionAirbus engineer Abbie Hutty gives a tour of the ExoMars rover test model

So, here it is. Europe's Mars rover. Or rather, a copy of it.

This is what they call the Structural Thermal Model, or STM. It is one of three rovers that will be built as part of the European Space Agency's ExoMars 2020 mission to search for life on the Red Planet. And, no, we're not sending all three to the Red Planet.

Read full article Europe's Mars rover takes shape