Earth ChangesS


Rare self-rolling giant snow balls found in UK

self-rolling snow balls
© Ron Trevett A field full of hundreds of rare self-rolling snow balls in Yeovil
They may look like winter's answer to crop circles, but these mysterious snow rolls are in fact a rare natural phenomenon usually found only in the world's most remote and frozen regions.

Also known as snowrollers, snow bales and snow doughnuts, they form mostly in unusual conditions created by a precise combination of snow, ice, wind, temperature and moisture on the prairies of North America.

But this week's frozen weather has allowed the snow cylinders to make a freak appearance in the UK.


Best of the Web: Ice Age Cometh: Death toll rises to 22 as Britain braces for coldest night yet

© Neodaas / University of DundeeNasa satellite picture of Britain doused in snow received by the University of Dundee
The death toll from Britain's biggest freeze for decades reached 22 today as the country prepared for its coldest night so far, bringing the promise of even more treacherous conditions.

Thousands of homes have been left without power, schools have closed and travellers have faced chaos as the weather hit roads, rail services and airports over the last two days. The disruption is estimated to have cost businesses around £700 million.

Councils continued to struggle with a growing salt emergency as police warned drivers in many areas not to travel unless their journey was essential.

The AA expect to have attended 20,000 breakdowns today - compared with about 9,000 for a normal Thursday - and warned that conditions were expected to remain "treacherous".

Meanwhile, the shutdown of an offshore Norwegian gasfield pushed Britain's gas infrastructure into emergency mode, forcing the closure of industrial companies in the north of England in order to preserve supplies to homes, shops and offices.

Although major airports stayed open, some air passengers had long waits for their flights, particularly at Gatwick, on the outskirts of south London, where more than 130 flights were cancelled. EasyJet had to axe more than 100 flights and British Airways was among other carriers that had to cancel some services.

The body of Philip Hughes, 45, from Slough, was recovered from beneath ice at the Lakeside Country Club in Surrey where he was watching the world darts championship. A spokesman said it appeared to have been a "tragic accident".


Best of the Web: Ice Age Cometh: US braced for more heavy snow, wind chills as low as 50 below zero

© Associated Press / Nati HarnikVehicles travel in white out conditions caused by blowing snow on Interstate 80 west of Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010. A storm system with sub-freezing temperatures and high winds is traveling through the Midwest.
Des Moines - Snow was piled so high in Iowa that drivers couldn't see across intersections and a North Dakota snowblower repair shop was overwhelmed with business as residents braced Thursday for heavy snow and wind chills as low as 50 below zero.

Frigid weather also was gripping the South, where a rare cold snap was expected to bring snow and ice Thursday to states from South Carolina to Louisiana. Forecasters said wind chills could drop to near zero at night in some areas.

Dangerously cold wind chills were anticipated in the Midwest overnight, including as low as 35 below in eastern Nebraska, minus 45 in parts of South Dakota and negative 50 in North Dakota, according to National Weather Service warnings.

Another 10 inches of snow was expected in Iowa, buried in December by more than 2 feet of snow, while up to 9 inches could fall in southeast North Dakota that forecasters warned would create hazardous zero-visibility driving conditions. Wind gusts of 30 miles per hour were expected in Illinois - along with a foot of snow - while large drifts were anticipated in Nebraska and Iowa.


It's Even Cold in Key West

© UnknownIcy roads spawned traffic accident in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday.
Key West, Florida - the southernmost point in the continental United States -- hit a 131-year low of 47 degrees Thursday and the forecast promised more of the same as icy cold swept across the Southeast.

Temperatures on Sunday and Monday at the tip of the Sunshine State are expected to be in the low-to-mid-40s.

The fast-moving cold that gave Florida the chills had combined with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to dump a dangerous mix of ice and snow throughout the Southeast, coating roadways with a slick glaze.

Numerous school systems throughout the region shut down.

At least nine deaths around the country have been blamed on the round of winter weather this week.


Experts: Cold snap doesn't disprove global warming

surf in snow
© UnknownThere's no Ice Age here... Nothing to see... Perfect surfing conditions
Beijing had its coldest morning in almost 40 years and its biggest snowfall since 1951. Britain is suffering through its longest cold snap since 1981. And freezing weather is gripping the Deep South, including Florida's orange groves and beaches.

Whatever happened to global warming?

Such weather doesn't seem to fit with warnings from scientists that the Earth is warming because of greenhouse gases. But experts say the cold snap doesn't disprove global warming at all, it's just a blip in the long-term heating trend.

"It's part of natural variability," said Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. With global warming, he said, "we'll still have record cold temperatures. We'll just have fewer of them."

Comment: Some 'experts' just can't admit they made wrong predictions:
Britain Freezes Over: 'No end in sight'

U.S. Shivers as Temps Head Lower

Glacial Rebound Here We Go: Britain facing one of the coldest winters in 100 years, experts predict

The UK Meteorological Office: slightly less reliable than tea leaves or cock entrails

Arctic freeze and snow wreak havoc across the planet

The Coming Ice Age

Climate Change: Science Scandal of the Century

UK Snow Chaos: And they still claim it's global warming

Soul-destroying cold and snow brings China to standstill: lowest temperatures in 50 years

Cold weather kills scores in India

Heavy snow, cold temperatures hit many parts of Japan

Climategate: Michael Mann's very unhappy New Year

Scientific American's Climate Lies
Climate Change Is Natural & Cyclical: Time for Discernment

A True Inquiry Into Climate And Weather, Parts 1 & 2

Our Global Climate is Now Actually Cooling, Says Metereologist

Bizarro Earth

Cold Grips Nation as Crash in Snowy Ohio Kills 4

© AP Photo/Nati HarnikVehicles travel in white out conditions caused by blowing snow on Interstate 80 west of Omaha, Neb.
Steadily falling snow blanketed the Midwest on Thursday, part of a vicious cold snap engulfing much of the nation, and a tractor-trailer spun out of control on snow-slick roads in Ohio, killing four people and injuring seven.

The tractor-trailer jackknifed on Interstate 70, crossed the highway median and swerved into oncoming traffic, colliding with a small bus transporting adult disabled passengers, the Ohio Highway Patrol said.

The driver of the 17-passenger bus was among those killed, said Sgt. Raymond Durant. One person was in critical condition and six others were injured and taken to hospitals, he said. Six of the injured were on the bus, and the tractor-trailer driver was also injured.

Durant said the bus was carrying 11 people at the time of the crash.

Bizarro Earth

Methane release 'looks stronger'

Methane bubbles
Frozen depositories are giving up methane to the sea
Scientists have uncovered what appears to be a further dramatic increase in the leakage of methane gas that is seeping from the Arctic seabed.

Methane is about 20 times more potent than CO2 in trapping solar heat.

The findings come from measurements of carbon fluxes around the north of Russia, led by Igor Semiletov from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.


UK Snow Chaos: And they still claim it's global warming

man clears snow West Lothian
© Daily ExpressA man clears snow from the paths outside his house in Wilkieston in West Lothian
As one of the worst winters in 100 years grips the country, climate experts are still trying to claim the world is growing warmer.

With millions of Britons battling through snow and ice to get to work today, scientists claim that the cold conditions should not be used as evidence against man-made climate change.

Blizzards, ice and sub-zero temperatures that have gripped the UK for almost a month in a record deep freeze are not "robust" indicators of global weather patterns, they say.


Massive octopus kill still a mystery

© William Manning / CorbisDead octopuses have been washing up on shore in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
What is killing the octopus of Vila Nova de Gaia? That question has obsessed the Portuguese city - located just across the Douro River from Porto - since Jan. 2, when 1,100 lb. (500 kg) of dead octopus were found on a 1.8-mile (3 km) stretch of local beach. The following day, another 110 lb. (50 kg) appeared; later there was just one expired creature. "It's very strange that so many should be killed, and in such a confined area," says Nuno Oliveira, director of the Gaia Biological Park, a nature refuge on the outskirts of Vila Nova de Gaia. "There's nothing in the scientific literature for this kind of mass mortality among octopus."

Twelve hundred pounds is a lot of dead cephalopod, especially when no one seems to know for sure what killed them. Local biologists have ruled out pollution or contamination because no other species were affected. And although some suggest that perhaps a boat, illegally fishing the multilegged creatures, threw them overboard in a panicked attempt to avoid detection, that possibility also seems unlikely. "The sea has been very rough," says Oliveira. "No one has been out fishing for days."


Mysterious giant ice balls discovered on Swedish coastline

© Ottenby Fagelstation
Bird watchers walking along the beach on the Baltic island of Öland off Sweden's southeastern coast were puzzled by an unusual natural phenomenon recently when they stumbled across dozens of football-sized balls of ice lying on the shore.

A week before Christmas, Magnus Bladh of the Ottenby bird station, located on Öland's southern cape, was strolling along the beach with a colleague when he saw something he'd never seen before.

"Temperatures were below freezing and there was a light wind, but it was very cold! In the seaweed we noticed at least 200 large ice balls," he said in a report to Swedish meteorological agency SMHI.

"The balls varied in size but the biggest ones were quite large, some larger than a football."