'Blood moon' lunar eclipse – in pictures

The moon turns red and orange during a total lunar eclipse due to a perfect alignment of the sun, Earth and the moon, otherwise known as a syzygy. See more

Click photos for captions and credits.

The books bound in human skin - flesh-crawling page-turners

Harvard historians say a book thought to be bound in human skin is actually sheepskin. But the macabre art of anthropodermic bibliopegy has a long, dark history. Read more

Photograph: Reuters

Climate change a threat to security, food and humankind - IPCC report

A United Nations report raised the threat of climate change to a whole new level on Monday, warning of sweeping consequences to life and livelihood.

The report from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change concluded that climate change was already having effects in real time – melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters.

And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said. Read more

Pictured: Flooding in Pakistan in 2010. Photograph: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Japan told to halt Antarctic whaling by international court

The International Court of Justice has ordered a temporary halt to Japan’s annual slaughter of whales in the southern ocean after concluding that the hunts are not, as Japan claims, conducted for scientific research.

The UN court’s decision, by a 12-4 majority among a panel of judges, casts serious doubt over the long-term future of the jewel in the crown of Japan’s controversial whaling programme. Read more

Pictured: Three dead minke whales lie on the deck of the Japanese whaling vessel Nisshin Maru, in the Southern Ocean. Photograph: Tim Watters/AP

Deaf 40-year-old woman hears sound for first time - video

Amateur footage shows the moment Joanne Milne, who has been deaf since birth and is now 40 years old, hears for the first time.

Joanne has a rare medical condition called Usher syndrome, and as a result also began to lose her vision in her 20s. She was fitted with cochlear implants at a hospital in Birmingham in February, and is visibly overcome with emotion when hearing a nurse read the days of the week. Watch

Earthquakes, hurricanes, cyclones and tsunamis: the world’s 10 riskiest cities

What are the world’s riskiest cities when it comes to natural disasters? A reinsurance company set out to assess 616 cities around the world for their risk of earthquake, hurricanes and cyclones, storm surge, river flooding and tsunami. See more

Pictured: Victoria harbour in Hong Kong. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Bionic ears: let’s hear it for cochlear implants

Oliver Campbell is a picture of childhood contentment. At just under two years old he is experimenting with words and is happily peppering his creative endeavours with them. But inside Oliver’s head something extraordinary is happening. Currents from tiny electrodes, curled inside the snail-shaped cochlea of his inner ear, are stimulating his auditory nerve, allowing him to hear. Take them away and Oliver’s world would be thrown into confusion. Read more

Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Observer

Nine Chinese cities suffered more days of severe smog than Beijing

Photographs of a smog-wreathed Tiananmen Square and the iconic headquarters of China Central Television dominated reports of Chinese pollution last year, but analysis shows nine other Chinese cities suffered more days of severe smog than the capital in 2013.

The worst was Xingtai, a city of more than 7 million people south-west of Beijing, which was hit by 129 days of “unhealthy air” or worse – the threshold at which pollution is considered at emergency levels – and more than twice as many days as the capital experienced. Read more

Photo: China Stringer Network / Reuters