Looking back at the past week, it’s blindingly obvious what the biggest story in science and society in general was: the release on Monday of a major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. My colleague Stacy Morford has been taking the lead on our coverage, which included two stories this week – one on how the world’s oceans and ice are changing and a second on what the planet’s intensifying water cycle means. For a deep dive on the report, see this collection of stories written by scientists in the U.S., Europe and Australia.

For science journalists, stories about animals are among the most fun – and a story on squirrels from this past week certainly hit the mark on that score. The article describes experiments done on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, that reveal insights into the rodents’ decision-making and highly developed skills moving through the tree canopy. The researchers hope results from their latest study can inform robot engineering: “At present, there is no robot as agile as a squirrel, and none that can learn or make decisions about dynamic tasks in complex environments – but our research suggests the kinds of abilities that such robots would need,” they write.

A story published today is a reminder of just how widespread, and perhaps surprising, the effects of climate change will be. University of Colorado Boulder archaeologist William Taylor writes about his work in Mongolia, where he and colleagues are trying to find ancient human artifacts along the edges of glaciers and other accumulations of snow and ice. As these patches melt, he writes, “small groups of archaeologists are scrambling to cobble together the funding and staffing needed to identify, recover and study these objects before they are gone.”

Also this week:

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What might seem like small changes, like a degree of warming, can have big consequences. AP Photo/John McConnico

Profound changes are underway in Earth’s oceans and ice – a lead author of IPCC report explains what the warnings mean

Robert Kopp, Rutgers University

Some of the climate changes will be irreversible for millennia. But some can be slowed and even stopped if countries quickly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, including from burning fossil fuels.

How do they stick their landings? Alex Turton via Getty Images

We used peanuts and a climbing wall to learn how squirrels judge their leaps so successfully – and how their skills could inspire more nimble robots

Lucia F. Jacobs, University of California, Berkeley; Nathaniel Hunt, University of Nebraska Omaha; Robert J. Full, University of California, Berkeley

How do squirrels leap through trees without falling? It takes strength, flexibility and finely tuned cognitive skills.

Archaeologist and paleoenvironmental researcher Isaac Hart of the University of Utah surveys a melting ice patch in western Mongolia. Peter Bittner

Melting Mongolian ice reveals fragile artifacts that provide clues about how past people lived

William Taylor, University of Colorado Boulder

From the high Yukon to the mountains of Central Asia, melting ice exposes fragile ancient artifacts that tell the story of the past – and provide hints about how to respond to a changing climate.

Other good finds