northwestern europe

A persistent heatwave has been lingering over parts of Europe, setting record high temperatures and turning typically green landscapes brown.

The United Kingdom experienced its driest first half of summer (June 1 to July 16) on record. 

These images, acquired by our Terra satellite, show the burned landscape of the United Kingdom and northwestern Europe as of July 15, 2018, compared with July 17, 2017. 

Peter Gibson, a postdoctoral researcher at our Jet Propulsion Laboratory, examined how rising global temperatures are linked to regional heatwaves. “If the globe continues to warm, it’s clear we will continue to see events like this increasing in frequency, severity and duration,” Gibson said. “We found that parts of Europe and North America could experience an extra 10 to 15 heatwave days per degree of global warming beyond what we have seen already.”

Read more HERE.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: 


The Normandy Landings (codenamed Operation Neptune) were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, and contributed to the Allied victory on the Western Front.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armoured divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30.

When the seaborne units began to land about 06:30 on June 6, the British and Canadians on Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches overcame light opposition. So did the Americans at Utah. The U.S. 1st Division at Omaha Beach, however, confronted the best of the German coast divisions, the 352nd, and was roughly handled by machine gunners as the troops waded ashore. During the morning, the landing at Omaha threatened to fail. Only dedicated local leadership eventually got the troops inland—though at a cost of more than 2,000 casualties.


A look back at D-Day 74 years later

On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy to begin the process of freeing northwestern Europe from under the boot of Nazism. Although it was a decisive Allied victory that changed the course of World War II, thousands of courageous young men gave their lives on those beaches in northern France. The U.S. National D-Day Memorial Foundation have verified that 2,499 Americans and 1,914 from other Allied nations were killed on that day — a total of 4,413 Allied deaths.

War photographers accompanied the infantrymen as they disembarked landing crafts and ran headfirst into enemy fire. Pictures of that pivotal battle are a sober reminder of the courage, resolve and selflessness needed to fight fascism and the debt subsequent generations owe to the G.I. Generation. So today, across the globe, men and women honor the sacrifice made by a few good men to liberate Europe and defeat fascism. (Michael Walsh/Yahoo News)

Photo credits: AP (3), U.S. National Archives/Handout via Reuters, Getty

See more photos of Remembering D-Day and our other slideshows on Yahoo News.


Sedum hirsutum

This little ground-cover has sticky-hairy yellowish-green leaves and is native to southwestern Europe and northwestern Africa. When it flowers, the reddish stalks and snow-white petals add a nice touch, with the black-tipped stamens looking like flecks of black pepper against the white of the petals. Sedum belongs to the Stonecrop Family (Crassulaceae).


Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to today’s Eurovision statistical map, the last of the year! I had thought of making my final map one more bit of analysis about this year’s contest, but felt that would be better to keep for next year. Instead, I thought the nicest way to finish off and celebrate a season full of interaction with other lovers of the ESC would be to tackle one of the number of map requests I’ve been sent (I’m working on the others too, they just mostly require a lot more time of rewatching performances.)

This map looks at the average place every country who has taken part from 2008-2017 received across the past decade. Whilst 2008 may seem like a curious choice of epoch, it makes a lot of sense - 2007 was the end of an era in Eurovision, and 2008 was the dawn of a new one. 2007 was a bloodbath for the pre-93 countries often considered “Western” - out of the countries who had to qualify, only Sweden and Ireland passed through to the finals. Huge success for post-93 “Eastern” countries meant that the highest ranked “Western” nation was the hosts, Finland, in a less than glorious 17th place.

This led to some drastic sea changes in 2008 - in my book, not so fairly. Had the west triumphed over the east in similar manner, I doubt there’d be such an appetite for change. The non-automatic qualifiers were split for the first time into two semi finals - not a bad idea in itself, because the semi-finals did have a marathon feel that made for uncomfortable workday evening viewing - but perhaps more significant than that as a change was the introduction of pots, theoretically based on voting record, to try to break up the fabled blocs. Instead of putting through the top 10 from each semi through, the “back-up juries” got to choose one non-qualifier to save - the most famous to benefit from this being Sweden’s Charlotte Nilsson. They went one further in 2009, by bringing back the juries, which would change Eurovision’s trajectory forever - in my eyes, not always in the most positive way.

The big winners of this era with the highest average placings are names that you would expect - Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, who continued to place strongly even after the introduction of juries which led others to slip - alongside the perennial beneficiary of the largest national hype machine in Europe, Sweden, and the country that has perhaps come closest to challenging it and Russia, Italy. Also recently making their way into the group is the juries’ object of desire, Australia. They all have an extraördinary average placing of between 5th and 10th - followed hot on the heels by Armenia, who’ve only failed to qualify once, and Turkey and Bosnia, despite the former’s pigheaded withdrawal and the latter’s pecuniary-issues and near disappearance - and two countries, Greece and Romania, which had always qualified before their trip and DQ, respectively, last year.

The countries in gold “only” have averages of 15 - 19.9, but this belies the fact that they are almost always in the final and often do well. All the Big 5 except for Italy are in this category thanks to their perma-qualification - alongside them, on their own merit, are Norway and Denmark, despite both of their stars having fallen in recent years, Hungary with its massive streak and Serbia with only two non-qualifications in ten years. Georgia is also in this group despite a more mixed qualification rate - when it gets to the final, however, it often does respectably enough to boost their average.

The orange group, finishing in 20 - 24.9 place on average, are very touch and go. They are countries who have an on-off qualification record, like Lithuania and Estonia; who went through a long slump of non-qualifications but have emerged from it, like Israël, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland, or countries who struggled to qualify but whose score is elevated by a win or a very good couple of scores, like Austria and Portugal or Bulgaria. Most of Western Europe, except for Ireland, Switzerland and the microstates, find themselves in this or the gold group.

The three groups below that typically do not qualify. In the red group (25 - 29.9 average placing), we see four nations who have come to be the weakest link in their area, placement-wise: Ireland in Northwestern Europe, Finland in the Nordics, Latvia in the Baltics, and Belarus of the non-Baltic former USSR. We also see Cyprus and a number of Balkan states whose qualification rates have suffered since the semi-finals and reïntroduction of juries.

The shades of purple are countries whose average rank is 30 or worse - that is to say, countries that not only usually fail to qualify, but also don’t even marginally fail to do so. Alongside the microstates, we have the curiosity of countries surrounded by a number of others, who, nonetheless, are short on friends in the contest: Switzerland, Czechia and Slovakia. Check out the full table below!

Keep reading

February 4, 2017 - Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Requested by: @gepwin

Found in western and southern Europe and northwestern Africa, these warblers do not migrate in much of their range, making them vulnerable to hard winters in some areas. They eat mostly invertebrates, including caterpillars, butterflies, beetles, and spiders. Their cup-shaped nests are constructed near the ground in bushes. Both parents feed the chicks. They are classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN due to habitat destruction and severe winters.


Little is known about them, since they held taboo against keeping written records. The total surviving information on them comes from Greek and Roman writers, and later Christian missionaries, and fills a few dozen pages at most.

According to Greek and Roman authors, the Druids were a privileged caste, exempt from taxation and military service. Their teachings were contained in verses, which had to be memorized by their students, taking as long as twenty years to accomplish.

Greek and Roman scholars divided the Druids into three classes:
Ovates; who practices divination and studied nature.
Bards; whose poetry and music formed the living memory of Pagan Celtic culture.
Druids Proper; who taught students and superintended at sacrifices to the Gods.

The Druids of Gaul and Britain suffered persecution in Roman times, since the Druids were identified as potential leaders of rebellion against Rome. In Ireland and Scotland, which never fell under Roman control, Druid traditions flourished until the coming of Christianity.

The fragmentary historical records from the early Middle Ages, when Christianity finally penetrated the Celtic lands of Northwestern Europe, provide only rough dates, but by the year 800 or so, Druidry in its original form had died out.

September 23, 2018 - Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata)

These warblers are found in southwestern Europe, northwestern Africa, and parts of the Mediterranean. Foraging in bushes and shrubs, they primarily eat arthropods, insect larvae, and insect eggs, but will sometimes also feed on berries or nectar. Pairs build cup-shaped nests in bushes from grasses, stems, leaves, plant down, thin roots, and hair.

The size of Middle-earth

I’ve been doing some thinking about the parts of Middle-earth that lie beyond the map and events in the Lord of the Rings, in preparation for some fan art/fic projects. And I made an important realization today that the farther parts of Middle-earth are probably not as big as I had imagined.

The northwest region featured in LotR is, of course, based on Europe, and so it’s easy to imagine that it takes up about the same area as Europe – a small peninsula on the western end of a huge continent. On this view, Mordor would correspond roughly with Turkey. The lands beyond the Sea of Rhun would stretch out far, far past the map, just as Asia stretches far beyond the Black and Caspian seas. The implication of this is that the world-changing events of LotR are focused on a tiny corner of the world, with vast unknown realms beyond them.

The trouble with this is that there simply isn’t enough room for northern Endor (i.e. the continent of Middle-earth proper) to be as big as real-world Eurasia. We can see this if we look at Tolkien’s sketch map of the world from the Ambarkanta, his cosmological essay published in HoME IV:

The flat First Age earth is a disc, roughly the same distance from north to south as our world is. That means the east-west distance is the same – which makes it about half the width of our world. And in that width, we have to fit not only Endor (including Beleriand), but also Aman, the eastern continent, and two oceans. Compare that to a map of the real earth’s eastern hemisphere, in which Eurasia stretches almost all the way across:

If northwestern Middle-earth is Europe, Endor can’t extend past India. This is, interestingly, about the extent of classical and early medieval European world maps, when the extent of China, Siberia, and Southeast Asia weren’t known to European cartographers.

The Ambarkanta map was made before Tolkien had invented the Third Age, and he never created a revised world map that incorporated features east of the Blue Mountains. In the Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad made a valiant attempt to insert this later geography into the Ambarkanta map’s framework:

Here we can see that Mordor is roughly at the midpoint of Endor, not in the west as we might assume from the Europe analogy. (A convenient base for ruling the world!) The lands covered by the LotR map make up over half of the northern section of Endor, and about a third of the total landmass.

The above maps are all from the flat-earth period of Middle-earth’s history. At the end of the Second Age, the world was made into a globe. This would require effectively doubling the surface area of the world. Much of this increase doubtless came in the form of added ocean, but it is an opportunity for Iluvatar to have expanded Endor to a more Eurasian size. However, the Numenorean settlements and Sauron’s realms in Middle-earth seem to have been only minimally disrupted by the rounding of the world, so it’s unclear how this would have been accomplished.

Pytheas’ Voyage

Pytheas of Massalia, was a Greek geographer and explorer from the Greek colony of Massalia (modern-day Marseille). He made a voyage of exploration to northwestern Europe in about 325 BC, but his description of it, widely known in Antiquity, has not survived.

December 30, 2017 - Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

Known for their melodic songs, these birds breed in northwestern Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, migrating to parts of tropical Africa in the non-breeding season. They eat mostly invertebrates, along with some berries and seeds in the late summer and fall, often foraging in leaf litter or among low branches. Their cup-shaped nests are built near the ground from dry leaves, grasses, feathers, and hair. Both parents care for the chicks, often for as long as a month after they fledge, though females sometimes begin to incubate another clutch of eggs while males continue to tend the older chicks.

FRANCE :  Waves break against a pier next to a lighthouse in Les Sables-d'Olonne, western France, on February 9, 2016.
High winds buffeted northwestern Europe on February 8, leaving one woman in France in a coma after she was hit by an advertising hoarding. Electricity was cut to 5,000 homes in northern France.  AFP / LOIC VENANCE