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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- How many trees are there on Earth? It's the ultimate estimation game, but a group of Yale researchers believe they have arrived at the most precise answer yet.

There are 3.04 trillion trees on Earth -- nearly eight times as many as was previously thought, according to the study, which was released in the journal Nature. Scientists who worked on the study relied on satellite imagery, forest inventories and supercomputers to help map the number of trees on Earth down to the square-kilometer level.

"Trees are among the most prominent and critical organisms on Earth, yet we are only recently beginning to comprehend their global extent and distribution," Thomas Crowther, a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

The latest count shatters a previous estimate of 400 billion trees worldwide, a number that was arrived at using satellite imagery and estimates of forest area but with no ground-level information.

While Crowther and his team said they were surprised to be dealing with a number in the trillions, it wasn't all good news for Earth's ecosystems. The team estimated the total number of trees has declined 46 percent since the dawn of human civilization, with an estimated 15 billion trees being cut down each year.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two bellydancers in Egypt have been sentenced to half a year in jail, according to the BBC.

The two bellydancers were arrested for inciting debauchery by their performance in a video.

BBC News reports that lawyers claimed the dancers were harming the image of Egyptian women and public morality.

The two dancers, Suha Mohammed Ali and Dalia Kamal Youssef will each serve six months in jail.

The cameraman was also sentenced to six months in jail.

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ABC News(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) -- When most people think of wool, itchy blankets and sweaters might come to mind.

But a unique breed of sheep is redefining how consumers think of wool and revolutionizing the world of performance athletic wear.

At a farm in the southern Alps of New Zealand, Tom Rowley is a third generation sheep farmer raising merino sheep. While normal wool can be itchy and uncomfortable, merino wool is much finer which is why it's soft against your skin.

“The softness makes you understand you can wear this against your skin because the fibers are so fine and soft. The prickly feeling you usually have with wool is because of the thickness of the fiber,” Rowley told ABC News’ Nightline.

Rob Fyfe is the CEO of the New Zealand clothing company IceBreaker, which specializes in merino products, and has promoted items made of the super soft wool.

"Because these sheep live in such a tough environment and altitude, the wool that they’ve developed is unique from any other sheep,” Fyfe told Nightline. “It’s so soft. It’s so gorgeous against the skin, a real silky feel.”

Though it’s known for the feel and as fabric for cold weather clothing, Fyfe says merino wool is much more than that.

“The functional properties are what really make it different,” Fyfe said. “It breathes. It doesn't smell, doesn't hold odor. It's great for wicking moisture.”

These same properties have helped the merino wool business boom. Manufacturers like Smartwool, Lululemon, Patagonia and The North Face have all touted the durability, breathability, anti-bacterial and odor-reducing qualities of their merino products.

Fyfe said his company originally worked hard to convince people to use merino wool over synthetic fabric, but eventually with their success, competitors are now using merino wool in some of their products.

“It’s a lot more expensive than a synthetic fiber, so it took a while for people to get hold of the benefits,” Fyfe said.

With the increasing consumer demand for eco-friendly and sustainable products, Fyfe said the benefits go beyond how the clothing performs.

“It’s about born in nature and worn in nature, so we’re about connecting people back with the land, not covering yourself up in synthetics and plastics,” Fyfe said.

“Being able to stitch that whole ecosystem together and make it both commercially sustainable and delivering to the world an environmentally sustainable product and a whole new twist on what wool can be and how you can wear wool -- it’s special.”


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Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images(ISTANBUL) -- The Syrian father whose two young sons died after falling off an overcrowded boat headed to Turkey was captured in a photo on Thursday, crying as he left the morgue.

The heartbreaking deaths of the two boys, 3-year-old Alan and 5-year-old Galip, are not the only ones that their father Abdullah Kurdi is dealing with right now.

His wife was on board the boat and also died during the crossing.

A series of photos of Alan lying drowned on a Turkish beach has prompted outrage over the lack of help refugees are being given in Europe.

The Kurdi family was fleeing from Kobani in Syria, reportedly headed for Canada where Abdullah's sister Tima Kurdi lives.

The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada noted on Thursday that there was no record the agency received an application for Abdullah Kurdi and his family. But the agency did receive an application for his brother, Mohammad Kurdi, and Mohammad Kurdi's family "but was returned as it was incomplete as it did not meet regulatory requirements for proof of refugee status recognition."

Tima Kurdi spoke to the press in Canada on Thursday, telling how on the night the family set off from Turkey, her brother Abdullah had texted her at 2:30 a.m. local time to say they were leaving and asking her to pray for them. She called her father in Syria to tell him the family was leaving. Despite it being just a 30 minute crossing, she said she did not hear from them for two days. At 5 a.m. Wednesday, she woke to find 100 missed calls from Syria and Turkey.

"I don't want people to die any more. The world has to wake up," she said.

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BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A series of photos of a young boy who drowned on a Turkish beach has prompted outrage over the lack of help refugees are being given in Europe.

Local reports state that the 3-year-old boy and his 5-year-old brother died as they were fleeing to Europe after leaving their Syrian hometown of Kobani.

The photo was used on the front pages of newspapers around the globe, from the Wall Street Journal to the Guardian.

People shared the photos online, including one where he is lying face down in the sand, leading to a debate over whether it was right to share such a graphic image.

Peter Bouckaert, the director of Human Rights Watch, wrote a post about how he thought "long and hard" before deciding to share one of the photos.

"Some say the picture is too offensive to share online or print in our newspapers. But what I find offensive is that drowned children are washing up on our shorelines, when more could have been done to prevent their deaths," he wrote.

"It was not an easy decision to share a brutal image of a drowned child. But I care about these children as much as my own. Maybe if Europe's leaders did too, they would try to stem this ghastly spectacle," Bouckaert added.

Cartoonists also weighed in by interpreting the scene and sharing drawings where the boy has angel wings or is being lifted up from the water by heavenly beings.

Thousands of Syrians have been fleeing the violence in their country and headed to Europe in recent weeks, overwhelming authorities in Hungary, where chaos ensued after the main train station in Budapest was closed because of the crowds.

Many of the migrants were in Budapest on a stop towards their intended destination of Germany.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/Univ. of Arizona(NEW YORK) — NASA is sifting through new clues that could yield insights about how ancient Mars went from a planet with surface water to the dry, Red Planet it is today.

It is believed ancient Mars had a thicker atmosphere, allowing water on its surface to not immediately evaporate while the Martian atmosphere of modern times is inhospitable to surface water.

Scientists analyzed the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars to determine what may have happened to cause the shift in the planet's atmosphere. While scientists don't have a definitive answer, they found the ancient atmosphere may have lost much of its carbon dioxide by the time valleys began to form on the Martian surface.

Carbon dioxide makes up the bulk of the atmosphere on the so-called Red Planet and can be pulled into the ground where it can have chemical reactions with rocks to form carbonate mineral deposits. While scientists initially expected to find evidence of carbon from much of the planet's original atmosphere in the deposits, they instead found only a few concentrated areas.

"The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon in it as the current Mars atmosphere," Bethany Ehlmann, one of the scientists working on the study, said in a statement. "Even if you combined all known carbon reservoirs together, it is still nowhere near enough to sequester the thick atmosphere that has been proposed for the time when there were rivers flowing on the Martian surface."

While the analysis didn't provide a definitive answer, it did raise the possibility the top of Mars' atmosphere could have been lost to outer space instead of having it pulled into the ground.

The Curiosity rover has also found evidence validating the top of atmosphere loss, but NASA is now looking to its MAVEN orbiter, which has been studying the Martian outer atmosphere, to help provide some clarity about the Red Planet's mysterious history.

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Pierre Crom/Getty ImagesREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK BY ABC'S TERRY MORAN

The scenes coming out of Europe are staggering.

There are children crawling under razor wire, people walking mile after mile under the blazing summer sun and whole families who have nothing but what they can carry on the move.

In what has been the greatest mass migration here since the Second World War, at least 350,000 refugees have illegally entered Europe so far this year, which is nearly three times the number of the total from 2014. A majority of these refugees are from Syria.

I met Mohammed and his family in a dusty park in Izmir, Turkey. Mohammed, his wife Batouol, their 10-month-old son Fahad and Mohammed's brother and two sisters fled Syria and go to Germany and find work and asylum.

Mohammed was a career military man in Syria who defected to fight Bashar Al-Assad's regime. Assad's murderous bombing and the rise of ISIS convinced Mohammed to take his family and get out.

Throughout their journey, Batouol, 29, said she tried to stay strong for her kids and her husband. But when I asked her if she ever wanted to give up, she said, "Yes. I said, ‘Let's just go back to Syria.'"

Hundreds of thousands of migrants like Mohammed and his family have come to Izmir, because Turkey has now become the key to the entire exodus. Many have fled war and terror in Syria, coming through Turkey, then to Greece, Macedonia and Serbia in the Balkans, into Hungary and finally ending in Austria, Germany, and the rest of Europe.

In Izmir, you can tell the refugees right away from their anxious, weary faces and their massive packs. Most of the refugees, including Mohammed, headed straight to the neighborhood of Basmane to find smugglers to get them across to Greece.

The smugglers charge $1,100 for adults and half-price for children. For many, the cost is their entire life savings. And the risks in the open boats they will be smuggled in are unspeakable. This year more than 2,300 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe.

Mohammed said while on the boat to Greece they were so scared it was going to be swamped they threw their belonging into the water. But despite the exhaustion, they made it to Greece with only a thousand miles or so left on their journey to Germany.

Though they have been through so much, they were bright and eager.

"We are look to the future," Mohammed told me. "A better future."

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Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With China sending five Navy ships into the Bering Sea north and west of Alaska for the first time ever, the nation’s top military officer says the move highlights the need for both the U.S. and China to work to avoid "miscalculations and interactions that could be unsafe at sea and in the air."

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the vessels operating in international waters close to Alaska indicate to him that China is “developing capabilities to expand their reach” as they continue to pursue economic interests.

Dempsey said that the more China asserts itself, “the more they are likely to interact with us and the more responsibility we both have to avoid miscalculation and interactions that could be unsafe at sea and in the air.”

“It tells me we should be more engaged with them and it tells me that we have to help allow China to become peaceful and prosperous and rise economically without becoming threatening” to U.S. allies in the region, Dempsey said, also noting that the U.S. has five alliances in the Pacific region.

More of General Dempsey's interview will air this Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that the vessels had recently entered the Bering Sea and were operating in international waters north of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

"We respect the freedom of all nations to operate military vessels in international waters in accordance with international law,” said Commander Bill Urban, a Pentagon spokesman. “We are aware of the five People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships in the Bering Sea. This is the first time we have observed PLAN ships in the Bering Sea.”

A U.S. defense official said the vessels include three combat ships, an amphibious ship and a replenishment vessel that had been participating in an ongoing joint Russian-Chinese military exercise taking place in the waters of the Sea of Japan.

The vessels were tracked by the U.S. moving northeast towards the Bering Sea where the official says the U.S. continues to monitor their operations.

The official says it is unclear for what specific purpose China may have moved the ship’s into the Bering Sea but said "they’re being there indicates an interest in the Arctic region."

The Arctic Circle begins south of the Bering Strait about 600 to 700 miles north of where the Chinese ships are currently located in the Bering Sea.

On Wednesday, President Obama visited a region of Alaska in the Arctic Circle as part of a three day visit focusing on the impact of climate change in the Arctic.


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Getty Images Europe(MOSCOW) -- A pair of scientists on a remote Russian island are besieged in their research station by a group of aggressive, hungry polar bears.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says that a meteorologist and an engineer are stuck inside the Fyodorov weather station on Vaygach island in the Arctic Ocean, an incredibly remote place.

The researchers have told the charity that the bears have started sleeping near their hut, behaving aggressively and fighting one another over food, which is a bad sign. They tried to scare off the bears with flares but it apparently had no effect.

The researchers normally go outside twice a-day to take readings from the sea but the likelihood of being attacked by a bear means they have not been able to.

The men said they don't have anything else to try and drive the bears away.

WWF says it is going to ask the Russian government to send help.

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Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A display of 888,246 ceramic poppies at the Tower of London, an exhibit that attracted millions on visitors last year, is going on tour across the United Kingdom, first stopping at Yorkshire Sculpture Park on Sept. 5.

Created by artist Paul Cummins and installation designer Tom Piper, "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" was a way to honor every single death in the British and colonial forces during World War I.

"The London installation had a huge impact on all those who saw it and the new installations will do the same,” John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said in a written statement. “This is an another important opportunity for us to remember and pay tribute to those who gave their lives in the First World War"

“The calmness and nature of the Park will offer visitors an ideal space for contemplation and reflection,” Peter Murray, executive director of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, said in a written statement, noting that the poppies will be surrounded by 500 acres of countryside and woodland.

The installation known as "Weeping Window" will later be exhibited at Woodhorn Museum, in Northumberland and at St. George’s Hall in Liverpool.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS(NEW YORK) — We've spotted faces, animals and now even a kitchen utensil on the surface of Mars.

The Mars Curiosity Rover captured a photo of the Red Planet's surface showing a mysterious rock formation that looks a lot like a floating spoon.

Located in the center of the photo, the feature appears to be floating in mid air with a shadow from the "spoon" being cast onto the red surface of the planet. The Martian oddity was first noticed by users on the Unmanned Spaceflight forum.

It's unclear how old the delicate feature may be or how long it will be able to survive on the surface before its worn down by Martian weather.

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KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Talk about taking the long way.

Three astronauts are en route to the International Space Station but first they'll have to do 34 orbits of Earth to get there.

The three-person team, which includes a Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh, blasted off Wednesday on board a Soyuz rocket on a two-day journey to reach the ISS. While astronauts have taken a direct six-hour route in recent years, the Russian Federal Space Agency said it decided to switch to the traditional route over security concerns after the space station adjusted its orbit in order to dodge space junk.

When the trio arrive on Friday, they'll bring the total number of astronauts at the International Space Station to nine. The Kazakh and the Dane are set to return to Earth on Sept. 12, along with Gennady Padalka, who is the current station commander and will hand off the duty to American astronaut Scott Kelly.

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Kevin Schafer / Barcroft USA / Getty Images(NEW YORK) — An ancient dolphin skull and shoulder fossil discovered off the coast of Panama in 2011 may hold the keys to prehistoric climate change.

New details about Isthminia panamensis -- a newly discovered dolphin genus and species -- was published in the scientific journal PeerJ Wednesday after years of study and restoration.

The fossil is an estimated 6 million years old and closely resembles the Amazon river dolphin, with a long nose and tiny eyes.

But, the bones were found in an oceanic area, leading scientists to believe that it had swam towards inland rivers once ocean levels rose.

“Knowing more about the evolutionary history of River Dolphins is giving us important information into the circumstances under which river dolphins evolved,” Smithsonian paleontologist Nick Pyenson told ABC News.

“This is an example of how the fossil record can bear critical issues of our time.”


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Natalie Amyot/YouTube(NEW YORK) — A French woman made headlines Tuesday when she went on a very public search for the father of her unborn baby conceived during a one-night-stand on her Australia vacation.

But it all turned out to be a bizarre tourism marketing campaign for Holiday Mooloolaba. Mooloolaba is a tourist destination on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia.

In a video posted to YouTube Aug. 30, a young woman who identifies herself as Natalie Amyot stands on a beach and says she had gone on a vacation to Mooloolaba three months earlier. She describes her amazing trip and says on the last night, she met a man and "had a beautiful night."

The next day she flew home to Paris and lost her phone with his contact details. Six weeks later, she said, she found out she was pregnant.

She returned to Mooloolaba, she said, to find him. Her video pleads with the public to share it and help her find her baby's father. It was viewed almost 2 million times.

On Tuesday, "Amyot" -- who has since been outed as an actress -- posted a new video called "I FOUND HIM." It's then revealed that the video was produced by Andy Seller of Sunny Coast Social Media for Holiday Mooloolaba.

"I know there's going to be a lot of you upset by this," Seller says to the camera.

He goes on to say that while "Amyot" was the face of the video, he did all the behind-the-scenes work.

Commenters on the reveal video are angry.

"Mooloolaba is a beautiful place, but why advertise in such a negative way? You've more than likely turned people away now. Great job," one person wrote.

"HEY YOU, I sincerely hope that nobody will ever come, but EVER, to your s***** moolooly spot. Which really sounds so s***** you have to create a f****** story about pregnant girls to get people over you f****** moron," wrote another.

In the video, Seller, the creator, says. "We just wanted to put Mooloolaba on the map because it's a wonderful place. So thank you for watching and we are going to do many, many more videos like this."

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Jessica McGowan/Getty(MONTREAL) -- It's perhaps best known for its major league baseball team, the Braves, and for hosting the 1996 Olympics. Now, Atlanta, Georgia is home to the world's busiest airport.

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson is one of four U.S. airports to make the top 10 list, according to data released Monday from Airports Council International. The others are LAX in Los Angeles (5); Chicago O'Hare (7) and Dallas-Fort Worth (9).

The Montreal-based council ranks the airports based on passenger traffic. More than 96 million passengers arrived or departed from Hartsfield-Jackson in 2014. That's 10 million more than the second-place airport, Beijing's Capital International Airport.

The 10 Busiest Airports of 2014:

  •     Atlanta (ATL)
  •     Beijing (PEK)
  •     London (LHR)
  •     Tokyo (HND)
  •     Los Angeles (LAX)
  •     Dubai (DXB)
  •     Chicago (ORD)
  •     Paris (CDG)
  •     Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
  •     Hong Kong (HKG)

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