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Mon, 20 Feb 2017
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Extreme Temperatures

Bizarro Earth

Rainbow in freezing temperatures?

When the temperature dips below freezing, rainbows vanish, right? Rainbows require liquid raindrops, and frozen water doesn't do the trick. Yesterday in Alaska, however, a rainbow appeared that seemed to defy the simple laws of physics. John Dean photographed the pale arc over Nome:
© John Dean
I seen this at sunset this evening, I first noticed the left hand side then the whole bow, there is a second bow by the streetlight, this is facing north also. The sun had just broke through the clouds as it was setting behind me. I have never witnessed this before here in Alaska
"It was not raining," says Dean. "The temperature was 25 F and a light snow storm had just passed through about an hour before. This is a first for me, and it has me perplexed."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what happened: "This is definitely a rainbow made by water drops, even though it was so cold. Ice spheres, hail or snowflakes cannot make them because a rainbow needs almost perfectly spherical, smooth and transparent water drops. This bow is broad, telling us that the water drops were small. They were also probably quite high up, and might even have been supercooled below the normal freezing point of water."

Supercooled raindrops can form when droplets of water fall through layers of subfreezing air. Droplets containing specks of dust or even microbes readily freeze as ice crystals form around the impurities. But when rain droplets are especially pure, they can remain in a liquid state even when the temperature drops below freezing.

Hence -- the "supercooled rainbow." High latitude sky watchers should be alert for these rare rainbows as strange Arctic weather grips the North in winter 2017.


Ice age cycles linked to orbital periods and sea ice

© Jung-Eun Lee/Brown University
The Southern Hemisphere has a higher capacity to grow sea ice than the Northern Hemisphere, where continents block growth. New research shows that the expansion of Southern Hemisphere sea ice during certain periods in Earth’s orbital cycles can control the pace of the planet’s ice ages.
Providence, R.I. — Earth is currently in what climatologists call an interglacial period, a warm pulse between long, cold ice ages when glaciers dominate our planet's higher latitudes. For the past million years, these glacial-interglacial cycles have repeated roughly on a 100,000-year cycle. Now a team of Brown University researchers has a new explanation for that timing and why the cycle was different before a million years ago.

Using a set of computer simulations, the researchers show that two periodic variations in Earth's orbit combine on a 100,000-year cycle to cause an expansion of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere. Compared to open ocean waters, that ice reflects more of the sun's rays back into space, substantially reducing the amount of solar energy the planet absorbs. As a result, global temperature cools.

"The 100,000-year pace of glacial-interglacial periods has been difficult to explain," said Jung-Eun Lee, an assistant professor in Brown's Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Studies and the study's lead author. "What we were able to show is the importance of sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere along with orbital forcings in setting the pace for the glacial-interglacial cycle."

The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Snowflake Cold

Second summer snowfall in New Zealand and helicopter downdraft to dry soggy fruit

Cardrona Alpine Resort in Summer
This is now the second "Rare" summer snowfall in New Zealand.

The year has so far been below normal temperatures for several parts of the country, but the last out of season Antarctic low brought a foot of snow in the middle of summer.

Apple shortages across the country and out of season rains have prompted farmers to hire helicopters to hover over the fields to dry fruit.


Snowflake Cold

Kashmir experiences record snowfall, 11-feet snow depth in avalanche-hit Gurez

© Shuaib Masoodi
Snowfall continued intermittently for the fourth consecutive day, virtually cutting of the Valley from rest of the country due to closure of Srinagar-Jammu national highway
The snowfall in Kashmir in last few days has broken the record of over two decades.

A Meteorological department official said Kashmir has recorded heavy snowfall this year.

He said it was the heaviest snowfall recorded in the valley since 1992.

"We had witnessed major snowfall in 1992 and 2006 but the present snowfall has broken the record of last 25 years," the official said.
The upper reaches of the Valley including Keran, Karnah, Gurez, Machil, Tanghdar, Uri, Gulmarg, Yousmarg, Pahalgam, Sonarmarg have witnessed heavy snowfall. The ski resort of Gulmarg has recorded more than 7 ft of snowfall while Gurez, which has witnessed at least three snow avalanches in 72 hours, has experienced about 11 ft of snowfall.

The plains including Srinagar have also experienced heavy snowfall.


Tiny seabirds from the Arctic battered by storm rescued in unprecedented numbers on Cape Cod

The Nerf football-sized birds were scattered around Cape Cod.

Someone had located one of the black-and-white critters wandering aimlessly in the parking lot of a Shaws grocery store, in Orleans. A second Dovekie — a waterborne bird and relative of the Puffin — was found nearby, at the Barley Neck Inn. Others were stranded in Brewster, and parts of Eastham.

They were far from home. Dovekies are arctic birds typically found miles offshore, not anywhere near Cape Cod or any big land mass. They had been blown in by powerful winds and large waves produced by Tuesday's Nor-easter, which battered much of the state coastline.

With the help of volunteers and staff from Wild Care, Inc., a non-profit in Eastham that takes in sick and injured wildlife for rehabilitation, many of the Dovekies found along the beaches and marshes and those discovered in backyards or parking lots, were returned to their ocean habitat unharmed Thursday.


Unusually large influx of over 300 glaucous gulls from the Arctic hits the UK and Ireland

© AR Jones Photography
A juvenile Glaucous Gull announces its arrival
From the edge of the Arctic, an influx of Glaucous Gulls has arrived this week, more than 300 recorded across Britain and Ireland.

These are big, beefy birds that spend the nesting season raiding colonies of other seabirds and frequently steal food from other gulls; I've seen one wrestle a fish from the bill of a Great Black-backed Gull, a slightly bigger bird.

Adult Glaucous Gulls are pale grey, with white wing feathers, but most arrivals here are immature birds the colour of slushy snow.

Most Glaucous Gull arrivals have been along North Sea coasts and in western Ireland, but a couple have made it into North Wales, the most showy in Holyhead Bay.

Thanks to the lettered ring on its leg, we know that this one comes from Svalbard (Spitsbergen), 2,000 miles to the north.

Snowflake Cold

Heavy snowfall, freezing weather kills 27 children in Jawzjan, Afghanistan

© AP
A security officer walks through snow on the Nadir Khan Hill in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Heavy snowfall and freezing weather has killed 27 children, all under the age of five, in a remote district in northern Afghanistan, officials said on Thursday fearing that the toll could rise.

Roads in Darzaab in northern Jawzjan province were blocked by 50 centimetres (20 inches) of snow, cutting off access for villagers in the area to medical care as temperatures plunged to -10 degrees Celsius.

District governor Rahmatullah Hashar said the deaths had occurred over the last two or three days. All the children were under the age of five, he said, adding the blocked roads mean the toll could still increase.

The deaths were confirmed by the Jawzjan provincial governor's spokesman, Reza Ghafoori, who said aid will be delivered via emergency committees.

Heavy snowfall and avalanches kill scores of people in Afghanistan every winter.

Snowflake Cold

Record snowfall in Japan causes travel chaos; more sea-effect snow, intense winds create rare Von Karman vortices in the East China Sea

© YouTube/Adapt 2030 (screen capture)
Japan blanketed by sea effect snow so intense that it is creating wind vortices off the islands in the East China Sea. Tottori Prefecture received a full years worth of snow in one day. Highways cut, millions of people stranded, power outages and in Hokkaido ski resorts closed due to too much snow. North Korea is upgrading its agriculture and Honey oranges out of China ripen six weeks late, no demand now that Chinese New Year is passing.


With Arctic sea ice disappearing, who needs icebreakers!

As we know, Arctic sea ice is rapidly disappearing. That is why China is building a new icebreaker.
This will join at least 14 new Russian ones:

Comment: Mini Ice Age Took Hold Of Europe In Just Months

Arrow Down

10 soldiers dead in 2 avalanches in Gurez, India after heavy snowfall

© Reuters
Representative image
The Army has retrieved ten bodies of the soldiers who went missing after being hit by two avalanches at separate locations in Bandipora's Gurez valley, 200 km from Srinagar. Seven soldiers have been rescued so far.

"The avalanches had hit an Army camp and an Army patrol in two separate locations between January 25 and 26 in Gurez," said an Udhampur-based Army spokesman.

He said ten bodies have been recovered so far.

"The Army is working in extreme bad weather and heavy snowfall. The rescue operations were on immediately after the avalanches were reported," said the spokesman, without identifying the exact location.