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The heat is back on high: May smashes US temperature records

WASHINGTON — Record heat returned to the United States with a vengeance in May.

May warmed to a record average 65.4 degrees in the Lower 48 states, breaking the high of 64.7 set in 1934, according to federal weather figures released Wednesday. May was 5.2 degrees above the 20th century’s average for the month.

A spud is born: UMaine unveils gourmet ‘Pinto Gold’ potato

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine says it’s releasing a new type of gourmet potato.

The new spud is called the “Pinto Gold” and the university’s potato breeding program leader describes it as a high-yielding, yellow-fleshed specialty variety. Gregory Porter, who leads the breeding program, says the potato will be especially well suited to roasting.

Returning otters to undersea world failing in their absence

MOSS LANDING, Calif. — While threatened southern sea otters bob and sun in the gentle waves of this central California estuary, wildlife experts up and down the West Coast are struggling to figure out how to restore the crucial coastal predator to an undersea world that’s falling apart in their absence.

Science Says: Hawaii volcano has oozed hot lava for decades

WASHINGTON — Hawaii’s Kilauea is not your typical blow-the-top-off kind of volcano.

It’s been simmering and bubbling for about 35 years, sending superhot hot lava spewing up through cracks in the ground. This month’s eruptions are more of the same, except the lava is destroying houses miles from the summit.

Wood frogs’ No. 1 option: Hold in pee all winter to survive

WASHINGTON — If you’ve ever been unable to find a bathroom in a moment of need, you know the gotta-go feeling. That’s nothing compared to the wood frog, which doesn’t urinate all winter.

In Alaska, wood frogs go eight months without peeing. And scientists have now figured out how they do it, or more accurately, how they survive without doing it.

America’s air isn’t getting cleaner as fast as it used to

DENVER — For decades America’s air was getting cleaner as levels of a key smog ingredient steadily dropped. That changed about seven years ago when pollution reductions levelled off, a new study found.

This means when tighter federal air quality standards go into effect later this year, many more cities may find themselves on the dirty air list.