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Fri, 14 Dec 2018
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Igloo

Cold Wave in North India, Toll 39

Cold Wave in UP, India
© Times of India
The entire north India shivered on Monday as 11 more people succumbed to the cold sweeping the region pushing the death toll to 39.
New Delhi: The entire north India shivered on Monday as 11 more people succumbed to the cold sweeping the region pushing the death toll to 39. Dense fog and dipping temperatures threw normal life out of gear at several places as nine deaths occurred in Punjab and two in Uttar Pradesh since last evening.

The death count from the harsh weather has risen to 30 in Uttar Pradesh where Fatehgarh with a minimum temperature of 3.9 degrees was the coldest place in the state. The national capital woke up to a thick blanket of fog which reduced the visibility to almost zero in some areas and disrupted rail and air traffic.

Dense fog also hit rail services in the region with over 40 trains running behind schedule, a railway spokesperson said.

Cold conditions prevailed in Kashmir with the minimum temperatures dropping several degrees below freezing point as the weather department forecast light to moderate snowfall at many places. Sub-zero night temperatures have resulted in freezing of water supply lines in many areas. Mercury in the skiing resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir plummeted to a minimum of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.

Sherlock

Dropping sea temperatures: Mysterious appearance of sea turtles on British Columbia, Canada beaches baffles experts

Image
© Nick Procaylo, PNG
Dr. Marty Haulena tends to a sick green sea turtle at the Vancouver Aquairium.
For the third time in two weeks a green sea turtle - a prehistoric species that's 150 million years old and that's now threatened - has washed up on B.C.'s shores, a rare appearance that's baffling ocean experts.

The sub-adult male was spotted by a visitor on Combers Beach in Pacific Rim National Park on Wednesday, the Vancouver Aquarium said Friday.

The giant turtle - females can weigh up to 200 kgs -- was in poor shape and wasn't expected to survive, said Dr. Dennis Thoney on Friday at the aquarium, where the turtle was transported for an examination.

"It's just too far gone," he said. "If they're on the shore, that's usually an indication there's something wrong with them."

MIB

US: Supreme Court Will Hear Secret Service Agents' Immunity Claims Over Arrest at Cheney Event

Image
© duilawyersusa.com
Washington - The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear an appeal from Secret Service agents who say they should be shielded from a lawsuit over their arrest of a Colorado man who confronted Vice President Dick Cheney.

The justices will review a federal appeals court decision to allow Steven Howards of Golden, Colo., to pursue his claim that the arrest violated his free speech rights. Howards was detained by Cheney's security detail in 2006 after he told Cheney of his opposition to the war in Iraq.

Howards also touched Cheney on the shoulder, then denied doing so under questioning. Appellate judges in Denver said the inconsistency gave the agents reason to arrest Howards.

Even so, the appeals court said Howards could sue the agents for violating his rights - an unusual twist that the agents and the Obama administration said conflicts with other appeals court decisions and previous high court rulings in similar cases.

Justice Elena Kagan is not taking part in the case, probably because she worked on it while serving in the Justice Department.

Arrow Down

So much for Global Warming scare: Arctic ice shrank during Little Ice Age and now in longest decline seen over past 1,450 years

Image
© Francois Lenoir/Reuters
The sun shines low in the sky just after midnight over a frozen coastline near the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen in this April 26, 2007 file photo.
Research published in a top scientific journal says Arctic sea ice has declined more in the last half-century than it has any time over the last 1,450 years.

The study, which gives the most detailed picture ever of the northern oceans over the previous millennium-and-a-half, also concludes the current decline has already lasted longer than any previous one in that period.

"When we look at our reconstruction, we can see that the decline that has occurred in the last 50 years or so seems to be unprecedented for the last 1,450 years," Christian Zdanowicz of the Geological Survey of Canada said Wednesday.

"It's difficult not to come up with the conclusion that greenhouse gases must have something to do with this," added Mr. Zdanowicz, one of the co-authors of the report in Nature.

Igloo

US: Early season record cold temperatures stun residents of Alaska

Image
© AccuWeather.com
A mid-November cold snap seems to have caught even seasoned Fairbanksans off guard.

"I don't think anybody was really expecting this," 43-year-old Shawn Ross, a lifelong Fairbanksan, said. "This came out of the blue."

For the second time in three days, Fairbanks set a new low temperature record on Thursday. A temperature of 41 degrees below zero - the first 40 below temperature of the season - was recorded at Fairbanks International Airport at 6:29 a.m., according to the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. That broke the old record of 39 below set in 1969.

The cold air settling in the flatlands has concentrated air pollution. The Fairbanks North Star Borough issued air quality advisories on Wednesday and Thursday because particulate matter was above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's standards and rated as unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Fairbanks set a new record of 35 below on Tuesday and the temperature bottomed out at 39 below on Wednesday, two degrees shy of the record.

Thursday's record low of 41 below marked the sixth earliest 40-below temperature recorded by the National Weather Service in Fairbanks since 1904. The earliest it's ever hit 40 below in Fairbanks was Nov. 5, 1907, when it hit 41 below.

Info

Ice Age Hominins and Their Adaptability to Climate Change

Early Hominins
© Michael Barton/Arizona State University
Computer agents (colored dots) simulating prehistoric hunter-gatherer groups are superimposed over a map of Late Pleistocene western Eurasia. Gray shows Pleistocene land area with lowered sea levels, black lines show modern coastlines, white areas show ice sheets. The blue dots represent groups of “modern” humans, red dots represent groups of Neanderthals, and yellow dots represent groups with biological mixtures of modern and Neanderthal genes. This is a snapshot of the simulation after hundreds of cycles in which the hunter-gather groups have higher mobility in response to changing glacial climate. The data and corresponding analyses were cited by archeologists from Arizona State University and the University of Colorado Denver in findings published in the December issue of the journal Human Ecology, available online Nov. 17.
Complex computational modeling provides clues to Neanderthal extinction

Computational modeling that examines evidence of how hominin groups evolved culturally and biologically in response to climate change during the last Ice Age also bears new insights into the extinction of Neanderthals. Details of the complex modeling experiments conducted at Arizona State University and the University of Colorado Denver will be published in the December issue of the journal Human Ecology, available online Nov. 17.

"To better understand human ecology, and especially how human culture and biology co-evolved among hunter-gatherers in the Late Pleistocene of Western Eurasia (ca. 128,000-11,500 years ago) we designed theoretical and methodological frameworks that incorporated feedback across three evolutionary systems: biological, cultural and environmental," said Michael Barton, a pioneer in the area of archaeological applications of computational modeling at Arizona State University.

Igloo

Big Siberian Freeze to Hit Britain

UK snow cars

Heavy snowfall last year disrupted traffic during December
Britain faces a sudden shivering end to the exceptionally warm late autumn with temperatures plunging towards Siberian levels.

Winter weather will arrive with a vengeance with temperatures well below zero within the next fortnight.

Experts then predict a bitterly cold December with thermometers falling at least as low as -15C (5F).

Snow could hit the country even earlier than last year when a big freeze at the end of November sent temperatures to -20C (-4F), crippling transport. And some forecasters fear that temperatures could plunge as low or even lower this winter.

Cloud Lightning

Snow Hits New York Before Halloween for the Fourth Time Since the Civil War

Rare snowfall in NY
© stefan Jermiah
Rare snowfall: A man walking through Soho in Manhattan, New York as it snows for only the fourth time in October since the Civil War in the 1860s
Packing a punch
© The Weather Channel
Packing a punch: Satellite map shows the massive winter storm making its way up the Northeast coast
New York has today been hit by snowfall before Halloween for only the fourth time since the Civil War.

The North East is bracing for a chilling weekend as 60 million people are expected to experience a rare October snowstorm, which will unleash heavy, wet snow and wind.

New England has already been struck by a very early snowfall and 10,000 residents in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia were today without power after snow, according to AccuWeather.com.

This weekend looks set to see huge amounts of sleet and snow covering the North East, invariably causing power outages and travel chaos. Some areas bracing for up to a foot of snow.

Magic Wand

The Ice Age might still be going on inside China's deepest caves

Image
© Permacultured on Flickr
Hidden in the dark caves of southwest China, a fragment of Earth's last Ice Age might well survive. Sadly, there aren't any mammoths hiding out in there, but tiny plants might represent a last link to 30,000 years ago.

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science and the UK's Natural History Museum have identified seven species of nettle from the Guangxi and Yunnan provinces that are completely unlike the tropical vegetation that dominates the region. The nettles are only found in the darkest corners of the provinces' caves and gorges, places where barely any sunlight ever shines. In fact, some of the nettles have to survive on only 0.02% of total available sunlight - you don't find that level of darkness anywhere outside the ocean depths.

Igloo

Could Mars be Between Ice Ages? Experts Say "Yes"

Mars
© The Daily Galaxy

"Mars is not a dead planet -it undergoes climate changes that are even more pronounced than on Earth."

James Head, planetary geologist, Brown University

The prevailing thinking is that Mars is a planet whose active climate has been confined to the distant past. About 3.5 billion years ago, the Red Planet had extensive flowing water and then fell quiet - deadly quiet. It didn't seem the climate had changed much since. However, studies by scientists at Brown University have shown that Mars' climate has been much more dynamic than previously believed.

This high-resolution image above, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows the rock debris that Brown scientists believe was left by a glacier that rose at least one kilometer from the surrounding plain and flowed downward onto the canyon.

After examining this stunning high-resolution images taken by the Reconnaissance Orbiter, researchers documented for the first time that ice packs at least 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) thick and perhaps 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) thick existed along Mars' mid-latitude belt as recently as 100 million years ago. In addition, the team believes other images tell them that glaciers flowed in localized areas in the last 10 to 100 million years - a blink of the eye in Mars's geological timeline.

This evidence of recent activity means the Martian climate may change again and could bolster speculation about whether the Red Planet can, or did, support life.

"We've gone from seeing as a dead planet for three-plus billion years to one that has been alive in recent times," said Jay Dickson, a research analyst in the Department of Geological Sciences at Brown and lead author. "[The finding] has changed our perspective from a planet that has been dry and dead to one that is icy and active."