News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Helicopter rescue of Antarctic global warming team now on ice as Chinese icebreaker may be stuck as well. Rescue needed two icebreakers in open water. Option now to wait 10 days for US icebreaker traveling from Seattle-BBC

Planned airlift would've required two icebreakers near each other in open water. Expedition may wait for US icebreaker, the Polar Star traveling from Seattle (parag. 7):
12/31/13, "Rescue for Antarctic ice-bound ship under threat," BBC

"A rescue mission for a ship stuck in ice in Antarctica is under threat as reports have emerged that one of the assisting vessels may itself be stuck.

Fifty-two passengers and four crew members were due to be evacuated by helicopter from China's Xue Long ship as soon as conditions allowed.

However, the Xue Long has barely moved in a day and may be stuck in the ice.

The research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy has been trapped for nearly a week with 74 scientists, tourists and crew.

The ship is stocked with food and is in no danger, the team on board says.

The planned air evacuation required that the two icebreakers in the immediate area - the Xue Long and the Australian Aurora Australis - be positioned close to each other in open water, clear of the pack ice.

However, the captain of the Xue Long has told the Shokalskiy that he is keeping his vessel in a "holding position".

The Aurora Australis, is now understood to be planning to carve through the dense thick pack to assist the Xue Long.

The initial plan had been for a helicopter from the Xue Long to carry people in groups of 15 up from the pack ice next to the Shokalskiy. 

The airlifted passengers would then be transferred by a small boat, deployed from the Australian icebreaker, onto the Aurora Australis. 

The expedition members would then have travelled to Australia's Antarctic base at Casey some four days' voyage away. 

However, if the Chinese vessel is also stuck and the Australian vessel cannot help it reach clear water, there will be no airlift.

Under the initial plan, the remaining crew members would have stayed on board until another, more powerful US icebreaker arrived in up to 10 days' time, the BBC's Andrew Luck-Baker reports from on board the Akademik Shokalskiy.
However, it may now be that all of those on board may have to wait for the US icebreaker, the Polar Star, he adds.

Earlier attempts by Chinese and French icebreakers to reach the ship were also foiled by the thick ice.

The Shokalskiy was trapped on Christmas Eve by thick sheets of ice, driven by strong winds, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart - the capital of the Australian state of Tasmania."


Reference for US icebreaker traveling from Seattle:

12/30/13, "Antarctic rescue mission fails to reach trapped ship," UK Guardian, Alok Jha

"Another option for rescue lays with the huge American icebreaker, the Polar Star, which is currently en route to the Ross Sea from Seattle. It had been due to travel via Sydney but it has now been ordered to sail directly to its final destination. If it was called upon to assist in the rescue effort, it could get to the sea ice edge near the Shokalskiy in eight or nine days.

There is no fixed timeline for the next steps, said Turney, while the captains of the Shokalskiy, Aurora Australis and the Xue Long waited for good weather. The forecast for the next few days, however, looks like there will be more of the same: snow, wind and heavy cloud.

AAE glaciologists on board the Shokalskiy, meanwhile, have been examining satellite images of the ice build-up over the past week to try and understand why the Shokalskiy got stuck.

"It's remarkable just how much change there's been," said Turney. "The ice that's packed around us is many years old, some is more than 10 years old."

The multi-year sea ice surrounding the Shokalskiy is much thicker and stronger than the new, first-year sea ice because it has had years of snowfall on top and freezing underneath.

According to the satellite maps, this ice was on the east side of the Mertz glacier until this past week, stuck fast to the land. Possibly because of a storm, or some other weather factor, this "fast ice" broke off and was blown into the area in which the Shokalskiy was sailing. Multi-year ice is a lot more difficult to cut through than single-year ice, which was the sort of material the Shokalskiy came through on its way into Antarctica....

The fast ice was partly in the area because of the huge iceberg, B09B. This broke away from the Antarctic continent in 2010, collided with and snapped off the extended part of the Mertz glacier, and then grounded itself in the entrance to Commonwealth Bay. Since then, the sea ice that would normally have formed and blown out to sea has instead been blocked by B09B and frozen into place. Given the recent reorganisation of the ice around the Mertz glacier, glaciologists aboard the Shokalskiy think the ship might have become inadvertently caught in the formation of a new area of fast ice, which could stay in place for several years.

When it got stuck last week, the Shokalskiy was just over two weeks into its month-long journey, from Bluff in New Zealand to Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica."...



Monday, December 30, 2013

Ice-free Antarctic and Commonweath Bay seen in 1912 video. In 2013, Global Warming research ship in Antarctic is trapped in 10 feet of ice, 3 ice breakers have tried and failed to get to them, cold and snow prevent helicopter rescue

In 2012 the world spent almost a billion dollars a day on the idea of global warming.


12/29/13, "Mawson in ice-free Commwealth Bay Antarctica in 1912," Climate Central

"Published on Dec 29, 2013"
"The SY Aurora anchored at Commonwealth Bay in 1912. The expedition, using the ship SY Aurora commanded by Captain John King Davis, departed from Hobart on 2 December 1911, landed at Cape Denison (named after Hugh Denison, a major backer of the expedition) on Commonwealth Bay on 8 January 1912, and established the Main Base.

Cinematography by Frank Hurley.

Archived by the Australian Antarctic Division"


"Early rescue efforts to break the ship free were stymied by thick “multi-layered” ice more than ten-feet deep."

The 1912 video shows a much warmer Antarctic than the Global Warming research team finds in 2013. Commonwealth Bay in East Antarctica in 2013 has trapped an Australian led AGW research mission in many feet of ice.

Three ice breakers have tried to rescue them, but the ice was too thick and all 3 had to turn back. Helicopter rescue has thus far been impossible due to bad weather. NY Times reports the global warming research ship began to list: 12/27/13, "Professor Turney told Sky News that before Christmas Day, the conditions changed when those on board had been conducting research, and they realized they could not get free of the ice. The ship was listing, and the captain put out an alert on Christmas Eve." image of trapped ship, AFP

12/27/13, "On Twitter, Documenting an Antarctic Journey and a Countdown to a Rescue," NY Times, The Lede blog, Christine Hauser. Map image shows Commonwealth Bay, via Sky News


12/30/13, "Antarctic ship: Rescue halted by fierce weather," BBC

"An Australian icebreaker trying to reach the Russian scientific mission ship was forced to turn back. Earlier attempts by Chinese and French icebreakers to reach the Russian ship Academician Shokalskiy were also foiled by the thick ice....Earlier, it was thought that passengers could be winched to safety by a helicopter on board the Chinese icebreaker, which had to abort its rescue mission on Saturday. However, AMSA spokeswoman Lisa Martin told Reuters news agency: "We can't fly a helicopter in these conditions either. There is essentially nothing we can do at this point of time.""...


"Scientists say".....

12/30/13, "The BBC's Andrew Luck-Baker, on the Shokalskiy, said scientists on board thought the ice was much thicker than usual for this time of year."...

NSIDC Sea Ice Index chart, Southern Hemisphere, Nov. 2013 (click Antarctic tab)


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Australian Global Warming research team still trapped in ever-growing Antarctic ice. Helicopter rescue couldn't take place because of too much snow. Not a problem for ever present Adelie penguins-NBC News

12/28/13, "Stranded ship awaits Australian ice-breaker in Antarctic,", By Daniella Silva and Alexander Smith

"NBC's Martin Fletcher reported that a helicopter Snow Dragon had on deck could possibly ferry passengers aboard the ship, but currently the aircraft could not take off because of the snow....

(Global Warming professor and CO2 entrepreneur) Turney told NBC News on Friday the Snow Dragon had encountered "multi-layered ice, two-plus meters thick (6.5 feet)," but with weather conditions now getting worse the ice was now said to be more than ten-feet deep."...


"The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is coordinating the rescue, said the Aurora Australis was expected to reach the trapped research ship on Sunday around 12:00 GMT. The powerful icebreaker can cut ice up to 1.6m (5.2ft) thick..."...

Adelie penguins near global warming research vessel trapped in East Antarctic ice.

12/29/13, "
And they have some curious neighbours," BBC caption to Adelie penguins photo

12/29/13, "Antarctic ship: New bid to free vessel trapped in ice," BBC

Image of Adelie penguins by global warming professor and expedition leader, Chris Turney, 12/26/13 

12/27/13, "White Christmas: High spirits on trapped ship," CNN, Naomi Ng


Minimum of $20 billion European taxpayer dollars guaranteed by EU to 'fight' excess CO2 that only exists in China, but well funded 'green' groups say impoverished taxpayers must give much more-ENS, Feb. 2013

2/8/13, "Climate Gets 20 Percent of Seven-Year European Budget," Environment News Service

"European heads of state and government have agreed to commit at least 20 percent of the entire European Union budget over the next seven years to climate-related spending.

All-night negotiations in Brussels produced agreement among EU leaders on budget proposals for the rest of the decade, from 2014-2020.

Climate action objectives will represent at least 20% of EU spending in the period 2014-2020 and therefore be reflected in the appropriate instruments to ensure that they contribute to strengthen energy security, building a low-carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient economy that will enhance Europe’s competitiveness and create more and greener jobs,” the final agreement states. Leaders backed the first budget cuts in EU history, spearheaded by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Cameron’s plan to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership strengthened the country’s negotiating stance.

The seven-year budget was agreed at 960 billion euros ($1.28 trillion). By comparison, the budget for the years 2007-2013 was 975.777 billion euros.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said, “Sustainability is a very important policy and indeed it’s a commitment that we are keeping across policies. In this regard, the greening of agricultural policy deserves to be mentioned, as for instance our commitment to climate protection.”

“Today is an incredibly important day for Europe and for the fight against climate change,” said Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard of Denmark. “This is a major step forward for our efforts to handle the climate crisis.”

The 20 percent climate appropriation was first suggested by the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch of government.

“Rather than being parked in a corner of the EU budget, climate action will now be integrated into all main spending areas – cohesion, innovation, infrastructure, agriculture,Hedegaard said. “And it underscores yet again the European leadership in the fight against this crucial challenge. If all other major economies were to make similar commitments, it would have a very significant impact,” she said.

“The steer from Europe’s political leaders is unequivocal: they want to remain in front in the transition to a low carbon economy,” declared Hedegaard. “And they are fully committed to align our common spending with this political priority. This is good news from Europe!”
European leaders agreed to invest in interconnected transport, energy and digital networks, saying they are an important element in boosting Europe’s competitiveness in the medium and long term in a difficult economic context, marked by slow growth and tight public budgets.

Council President Herman Van Rompuy said in a news conference today that, while the budget must be leaner to reflect today’s financial realities, “the focus is clearly on triggering new investments and on developing transport, energy and ICT networks, including 30 billion euros for “connecting Europe.”

Such investments in infrastructure are instrumental in allowing the EU to meet its sustainable growth objectives outlined in the Europe 2020 Strategy and the EU’s “20-20-20″ objectives in the area of energy and climate policy, the leaders agreed.

“This budget will allow Europe to keep engaging on vital global issues, such as climate change,
nuclear safety, and development aid,” said Van Rompuy.
Hedegaard said, “It is now up to all involved parties – including the European Parliament – to ensure that the overall ambition is duly reflected with clear targets and transparent measuring methods in all the relevant policies and programmes, not least the Common Agricultural Policy.”

The objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy, or CAP, will be based on “sustainable growth” the leaders said. In addition to ensuring food production, the CAP will “deliver specific environmental public goods, improve the competitiveness of the agriculture and forestry sectors promote the diversification of economic activity and quality of life in rural areas…” the framework document states. The greening of the Common Agricultural Policy’s overall environmental performance will be “enhanced” through direct payments for certain agricultural practices that are beneficial for the climate and the environment that all farmers will have to follow, the leaders agreed.

A new 2.8 billion euro reserve to support farmers in case of major crises affecting agricultural production or distribution is included in the budget.

But Europe’s largest coalition of grassroots environmental organizations, the European Environmental Bureau, which represents more than 140 NGOs, condemned the outcome as “a disgrace.”

EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates said, “This is the worst of both worlds: a smaller budget that is explicitly dedicated to keep pumping money into Europe’s most wasteful and harmful policies and projects, in particular the CAP.”

Expenditures for farm subsidies have gone up since the proposal in November, said Wates. “Even more shocking, as part of this deal, the funding for the CAP’s more progressive rural development component will be effectively starved through the possibility of a whopping 25 percent reverse modulation that allows Member States to put more funding back into the harmful direct payments,” said Wates.

The final blow to a green CAP reform, however, was dealt through an agreement that Member States would be entirely free to decide how to interpret what is meant by a green CAP, opening the door to an unprecedented greenwashing operation,” Wates said.

“Heads of State and Government even went as far as to prescribe in detail how to render the most important greening measures – the allocation of Ecological Focus Areas at farm level – completely meaningless, by stipulating this should not ‘require farmers to take any land out of production,’” he said.

Wates warned, “Unless Heads of State and Government reject this deal we will be urging the European Parliament to do so.”"
via Real Science


Lots of fossil fuel will be needed to rescue global warming research mission trapped in Antarctic ice. An icebreaker will have to get through 13 miles of 7 ft. thick ice

"According to Turney, there’s 13 miles of ice – 7 feet thick – blocking them from open waters."...

12/26/13, "Stuck in Antarctica's icy grasp," UK Guardian, Alok Jha

"Trapped in heavy pack ice just off the coast of Cape de la Motte for the past two days, we await icebreaker assistance." Alok Jha and Laurence Topham are with the Australasian Antarctic Expedition" 

"This is no place for people.... .

Antarctica is not just cold, windy and wet. It is the extreme of all those things. Leave a hole in your armour – a glove not tucked into a sleeve, a gap around your neck where you forgot your scarf – and the weather will find and punish you fast. The cold starts off as stabbing, then it sears the skin and eventually sends the nerve-endings into a symphony of confusion. I took a glove off to type an email outside at one point and, after my fingers turned white and I lost the ability to move them, I swear they felt hot. Painful, boiling hot, as though I had just plunged them into a cup of coffee....

Here, people are each other's eyes and ears: the first sign that the Antarctic conditions are taking their toll is when people stop moving around, stop talking and turn inwards upon themselves. Groups are always told to be careful when stepping out but, almost as important, they are told to keep watch on each other just as much....

Right now the continent has us in its grasp and, though help is coming, the continent will decide when to let us go.".


12/27/13, "Ship trapped in Antarctic ice must wait longer for rescue,"



Friday, December 27, 2013

Australian global warming research crew trapped in Antarctic ice, Chinese icebreaker sent to rescue them now also trapped in Antarctic ice. Crew is led by Australian global warming professor and includes Aus. Green Party senator-elect

12/27/13, Antarctic mission on ice as rescue ship is forced back, UK Guardian, Alok Jha

Given the circumstances, the Shokalskiy is now unlikely to reach open water until Saturday at the earliest.

Speaking before the Xue Long had turned around, Janet Rice, the Green party senator-elect for Victoria, Australia, who has been on board the ship since it left New Zealand, said: “I understand why people might be concerned, but the feeling today on board the ship is like a summer holiday when the weather is bad, when you’re stuck inside reading books and playing Scrabble. We’ve been assured that we’re in no danger and it’s just a matter of waiting….

If the Xue Long had reached the Shokalskiy, it would have likely cut a ring in the ice around our ship so that our captain could manoeuvre it into the newly opened channel behind the Xue Long. “It’s quite an elaborate operation and one that takes some time,” said Mortimer.

The plan would then have been to sail the Shokalskiy close behind the Chinese vessel as it carved a new channel through the ice and headed back to the open waters of the Southern Ocean. That could have taken more than a day….

Penguins, apparently confused by the sudden appearance of a solid mass caused by the compacting of ice floes around our vessel, wandered past at regular intervals, looking for the shoreline.”…
  • ================================
12/27/13, Only at the South Pole: Icebreaker also stuck — in ice — heading for stranded ship,” CNN, Martinez, Yan, and Wang

South Pole weather has stymied a rescue by a Chinese icebreaker trying to reach an expedition vessel trapped for the past four days in frozen seas, a ship officer told CNN Friday.

The Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, or Snow Dragon, was just six nautical miles away from the rescue, but now it’s stuck in an Antarctica ice floe, too.

The Chinese crew is hoping a French icebreaker 14 nautical miles away will arrive and offer relief, said Zhu Li, chief officer of the Chinese ship.

But it’s likely the French vessel Astrolabe will also be slowed by the polar cap’s extreme frigidity, Zhu said.

Those two icebreakers — plus a third, from Australia — were battling the planet’s coldest environment in trying to reach the stranded Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, whose 74 researchers, crew and tourists remained in good condition despite being at a frozen standstill since Monday.

It all shows that some lands — especially the ends of the Earth — will never be tamed.

The Snow Dragon is in near-constant communication with the Russian exploration vessel and has ample supplies of water, food and medicine — even a helicopter — if the ice-bound Shokalskiy needed them, Zhu said.

The Russian expedition ship is carrying scientists and passengers led by an Australian climate change professor, but they all may have to wait two more days for one or all three icebreakers to free it, said Capt. Wang Jiangzhong of the Snow Dragon.

“Right now we are waiting for winds to blow ice away so we can move closer,” Wang told CNN. “The current ice condition is exceeding our capabilities to break through further.”

The captain also acknowledged his ship may need help from the other icebreakers headed to the area if conditions deteriorate.

“We are in continual communication with the (stranded) ship,” he said in a satellite phone call with CNN. “I think it’s at least a form of emotional relief for them to know we are nearby to help. We know that they (passengers) are all doing well on that ship.”

The Aurora Australis out of Australia is two days from the Russian ship, its captain, Murray Doyle, told CNN on Friday.

China’s State Oceanic Administration said the Xue Long sailed through an intense cyclone to reach the Akademik Shokalskiy sooner….

“The vessel is fine, it’s safe and everyone on board is very well,” expedition leader Chris Turney, a professor of climate change at University of New South Wales in Australia told CNN. “Morale is really high.”

It got stuck in the ice on Monday night — 15 days after setting out on the second leg of its research trip.

According to Turney, the ship was surrounded by ice up to nearly 10 feet (3 meters) thick some 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D’Urville, about 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Tasmania.

The crew had a “great Christmas” despite their situation, Turney told CNN earlier. He said crew members have used the delay to get more work done. “We’ve just kept the team busy,” he said.

The expedition is trying to update scientific measurements taken by an Australian expedition led by Douglas Mawson that set out in 1911.

The expedition to gauge the effects of climate change on the region began November 27. The second, and current leg of the trip, started December 8 and was scheduled to conclude with a return to New Zealand on January 4.

Turney said the ship should still be back in New Zealand on time.”


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Children still see ice covered trees in Buffalo

12/23/13, "Rain and ice taper; cold temps stay for much of US," AP, Durkin

Buffalo, NY, 12/22/13

"Parts of the country socked by a wild weekend storm will be covered with ice through Christmas and beyond thanks to a steady diet of freezing rain and cold temperatures.

The first full day of winter Sunday brought a mix including balmy temperatures along the Mid-Atlantic, snow in the Midwest and ice, snow and flooding in the Great Lakes, and utilities warned that some people who lost electricity could remain in the dark through Wednesday.

More than 390,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday in Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England, down from Sunday's peak of more than a half million. The bulk were in Michigan, where more than 297,000 customers remained without power Monday. The state's largest utilities said it will be days before most of those get their electricity back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

In Maine, the number of people without power spiked to more than 68,000. A medical clinic in Bangor lost power, forcing walk-in patients to seek other options.

"It's certainly not going away," Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said Monday of the precipitation and cold. "In fact, we don't have very many areas where we're expecting temperatures to rise above freezing."...

At least nine deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the storm, including five people killed in flooding in Kentucky and a woman who died after a tornado with winds of 130 mph struck in Arkansas.

Authorities reduced the speed limit along a 107-mile stretch of the Maine Turnpike from Kittery to Augusta as freezing rain continued to fall Monday morning and temperatures hovered around freezing. Dozens of flights out of Toronto were canceled while other airports in the storm-hit region were faring well despite the weather.

More than 200 flights were canceled in the U.S. by 2 p.m. Monday, the bulk of them in Chicago, Denver, Houston and Dallas, according to FlightAware. The number is in line with a typical travel day and much improved from Sunday's 700 or so cancellations. There are typically more than 30,000 daily flights in the United States.

But poor weather continued to lead to delays, with 3,420 flights behind schedule Monday. The majority of those problems were in New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Dallas and Houston
In Maine, Judith Martin was heading from her home in South Grafton, Mass., to Kingston, when she stopped at a rest area along Interstate 95 in West Gardiner. She said roads got worse the farther north she drove.

"The trees are loaded with ice, so it makes me think the road is loaded with ice," Martin said.

Power failures caused related concerns. Vermont's Department of Health warned people to be careful with generators and other equipment after a weekend spike in carbon monoxide poisonings. The department had half a dozen reports in one day, about what the state sees in a typical winter.

While the cold will continue to harass people, there's no major precipitation on the horizon through the end of the week, Curtis said....

Meanwhile, flooding in Ohio and Indiana caused no reported injuries but forced some small-scale evacuations and closed several roads.

Heavy snow in Wisconsin forced dozens of churches to cancel Sunday services. Milwaukee got about 9 inches and Manitowoc, 7. Ice and snow in Oklahoma were blamed for three traffic deaths on slick roads.

In New York's St. Lawrence County, almost 2 inches of ice fell, coating tree limbs and power lines, and a state of emergency was declared to keep the roads clear of motorists. As of Monday afternoon, some 25,000 customers were still without power.

The winter weather was far from nationwide, though. Record high temperatures were reached in some Mid-Atlantic states this weekend, but temperatures were expected to drop back to the mid-30s by Monday night.

On Sunday, the mercury reached 70 degrees in New York's Central Park, easily eclipsing the previous high of 63 from 1998. Records were also set in Wilmington, Del., (67), Atlantic City, N.J., (68), and Philadelphia (67). Washington tied its 1889 mark at 72." image 23 ABC. 


Updated, Ed. note: It's now 19F in Midtown Manhattan, 7:51AM, Dec. 25, 2013. It was 32F in Manhattan at 9:30pm, Tues., 12/24/13.

NY 1 weather, 7:51AM, 12/25/13:

"BRONX 16ºFair 
QUEENS 20ºA Few Clouds 


US snowpack in December 2013 largest since readings began in 2003-NOAA

12/16/13, Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow: U.S. Sets Benchmark,, Andrew Freedman

Bitter cold and snow and ice storms have been the mantra for December across much of the U.S. And in fact, the country has seen a larger snowpack this month than at any point in the past decade.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 53 percent of the lower 48 states had some snow cover on Dec. 15. That topped all readings on that date since such records began in 2003.

The expansive snow cover stands in stark contrast to some of the milder early winters of recent years, including 2006, when just 12 percent of the lower 48 states were covered in snow on December 15. An unusual weather pattern that brought bitterly cold Arctic air to the U.S. has been the driving force for the early season snow. It started in late November and has lasted through much of December, all the while sending record-breaking warmth into Alaska.

Snowstorms have painted the nation white since late November, dumping several feet of snow in the Rocky Mountains, and lesser amounts in the Great Plains, the Mississippi River Valley, the Ohio River Valley, Appalachians, and the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

In addition to the snow, the U.S. has seen its share of record-cold temperatures, too. With the noteworthy exception of Alaska, nearly every state was affected by the unusually cold air at some point during the November-to-December timeframe, with temperatures dipping down to at least minus-43°F in Montana on Dec. 8, and running 10 to 20°F below average elsewhere….

In November, for example, the U.S. saw three times as many record cold daily highs and lows as record warm daily highs and lows (2,238 cold temperature records vs.  749 warm records). For the year, daily record lows are likely to outnumber daily record highs in the U.S. for the first time in 20 years.

In November, the continental U.S. had an average monthly temperature that was 0.3°F below the 20th century average, which did not stand out as particularly cold in NOAA’s 119-year instrument record, but was noteworthy considering that most months in the U.S. in recent years have been milder than average. The November snow cover extent across the lower 48 states was the 12th largest in the nearly 50-year period of record, running about 116,000 square miles above average, according to the Rutgers University Snow Lab.”…

snowcoverElevenYearsNOAADec162013viaClimateCentralSnow cover on December 15, 2013 was the largest seen on that date in at least 11 years. Credit NWS via Twitter.”

11/27/13, “Snow Cover May Help Usher in Historic Cold to Northwest,, Andrew Freedman

Conditions could moderate significantly after the December cold snap ends, but there also exists the possibility that a large snow pack will help entrench cold air and lead to more snow events in parts of the country, effectively manufacturing a cold winter.”...(near end of article)


Monday, December 23, 2013

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, Dec. 21, 2013, DMI, Center for Ocean Ice

Dec. 21, 2013, Arctic Sea Ice Extent, DMI, Center for Ocean Ice

"Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice extent"
"Sea ice extent in recent years for the northern hemisphere.
                       The grey shaded area corresponds to the climate mean
                       plus/minus 1 standard deviation.

"Total sea ice extent on the northern hemisphere during the past years, including climate mean; plus/minus 1 standard deviation. The ice extent values are calculated from the ice type data from the Ocean and Sea Ice, Satellite Application Facility (OSISAF), where areas with ice concentration higher than 15% are classified as ice.

The total area of sea ice is the sum of First Year Ice (FYI), Multi Year Ice (MYI) and the area of ambiguous ice types, from the OSISAF ice type product. The total sea ice extent can differ slightly from other sea ice extent estimates. Possible differences between this sea ice extent estimate and others are most likely caused by differences in algorithms and definitions. Some time in 2013 sea ice climatology and anomaly data will become available here."

"The plot above replaces an earlier sea ice extent plot, that was based on data with the coastal zones masked out. This coastal mask implied that the previous sea ice extent estimates were underestimated. The new plot displays absolute sea ice extent estimates. The old plot can still be viewed here for a while."


Winter weather wreaks havoc in North America, heavy snow in Wisconsin forced dozens of churches to cancel services the Sunday before Christmas, 700 airline flights canceled in US-AP

12/23/13, "Winter weather wreaks havoc in North America," AP via, OneNews

Clearing snow in Montreal
"The first full day of winter brought a wild mix of weather across North America: ice and high wind in the upper Midwest and northeastern New England in the US, flooding in the South and record-shattering temperatures upper teens and low 20s (C) along the mid-Atlantic region.

Freezing rain across much of eastern Canada turned roads and sidewalks into skating rinks and wreaked havoc on holiday plans at one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Snow and ice knocked out power to 400,000 homes and businesses in Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England, and also left more than 400,000 customers without electricity in eastern Canada. It could be days before the lights are back on everywhere.

"Thoughts are with those without power due to the ice storm," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted. "Please stay safe."

At least nine deaths were blamed on the storm in the US, including five people killed in flooding in Kentucky, three traffic deaths on slick roads in Oklahoma, and a woman who died after a tornado with winds of 209kph struck in Arkansas.

Four people were killed in Canada in highway crashes blamed on severe weather conditions. In Toronto, warming centres were set up and the city shut down streetcar service and parts of the subway system. The city's giant Yorkdale Shopping Centre lost power.

Mayor Rob Ford called it one of the worst storms in Toronto's history.

"My house is freezing cold, I have little kids, we might have to go to a hotel tonight, I'm not quite sure what we're going to do," Mr Ford said. "It's not good to wake up and have a freezing cold shower."

Hydro Toronto said about 250,000 customers were without power as ice-coated tree branches snapped and brought down power lines. The utility's vice-president Blair Peberdy said crews were initially focusing on restoring power to two hospitals and a water treatment plant. "We don't want the water systems in Toronto to go down," he said.

Anxious passengers found themselves stranded in airports from Toronto to St. John's, Newfoundland. Canada's Via Rail advised commuters to expect delays on its routes between Toronto and Montreal or Ottawa, and police warned people to stay off the roads if possible. One Via Rail train got stuck in Oshawa due to downed power lines.

In the US, as of midafternoon Sunday, more than 700 airline flights had been canceled and more than 11,000 delayed, according to aviation tracking website

In Arkansas, authorities said a woman was killed after a tornado with winds of about 209kph struck in St. Francis County on Saturday. A man found in a field was hospitalised in serious condition, while the woman's 3-year-old granddaughter and 25-year-old daughter were treated at a hospital.

The icy weather was expected to make roads hazardous through tomorrow from the upper Midwest to northern New England, just days before Christmas.

At the same time, high-temperature records for the date fell for the second straight day in the mid-Atlantic states because of a mass of hot, muggy air from the South.

In New York's Central Park, the mercury reached 21 degrees Celsius, easily eclipsing the previous high of 17 C from 1998. Records were also set in Wilmington, Delaware, 19.5 C, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 20 C, and Philadelphia 19.5C. Washington tied its 1889 mark at 22C.

Temperatures were expected to return to normal by tomorrow and Wednesday, dropping back into the low single digits.

The scene was much more seasonal in Vermont, where Lynne White of West Charleston listened to the cracking of falling tree branches and gazed at the coating of ice on her home.

"It's actually really pretty," she said. "Not safe, I'm sure, but it's pretty."

Heavy snow in Wisconsin forced dozens of churches to cancel Sunday services. Milwaukee got about 23 centimetres. Ice and snow in Oklahoma were blamed for three traffic deaths on slick roads.

In New York's St. Lawrence County, almost 5cm of ice had accumulated by early Sunday local time, coating tree limbs and power lines, and a state of emergency was declared to keep the roads clear of motorists.

In Canada, crews struggled to restore service where utility companies said power outages affected about 350,000 customers in Ontario, 51,000 in Quebec and 3,000 in New Brunswick.

So far, the storm's impact appeared to fall well short of the havoc wreaked by the deadly ice storm that struck eastern Canada in 1998 when more than two dozen people died and about 3 million people - about 10% of Canada's population - were without power during four days of intermittent freezing rain.

Marie-Eve Giguere, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the 1998 storm involved far more freezing rain and ice accumulation than over the past few days." photo AP


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Snow and freezing rain bring 'one of worst storms in Toronto history,' 400,000 without power in northern US where more snow is expected Monday-BBC

12/23/13, "Toronto and eastern Canada battered by winter storm," BBC

"A severe ice storm has brought snow and freezing rain to Canada's biggest city, Toronto, and to much of the east of the country.

The storm has left some 400,000 people in the region without electricity and forced the closure of parts of its public transport system.

Travellers were stranded at airports in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal as dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed.

At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the storm system in the US and Canada.

Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford called the storm "one of the worst storms in Toronto history," saying that a state of emergency may be called on Monday.
Mr Ford said the city's top priority is restoring power to two hospitals, Sunnybrook and Toronto East General.
The Toronto Hydro power company said that it may take up to 72 hours to get everybody in the city reconnected.

Many flights were also cancelled in the US due to the storm, at one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

More than 400,000 people were also left without power in Michigan, New York state and New England.

The US's National Weather Service described the storm system as "complex and large", warning that "another round of snow and ice" was expected for New England on Monday as the storm winds down.
At least four people were killed by flooding caused by the storm in Kentucky, while a tornado was reported to have caused extensive damage in Arkansas.

However, the system has also brought record high temperatures to some parts of the east coast of the US, with the temperature in New York's Central Park reaching 21C, with records also being set in several other cities." photo by Reuters, caption, "Crews are working to restore power to thousands of homes in Toronto"


Politicians benefit from myth of 'gridlock,' lets them save face. ObamaCare exemplifies how easily big changes are made by US gov., and that 'now or never' lurches don't pay-NY Times, Cowen

12/21/13, "Don’t Mistake This for Gridlock," NY Times, Economic View, Tyler Cowen

 "It’s easy to see the evidence for it in the daily headlines....Still, the American political system allows for more change than its current reputation suggests. The Affordable Care Act offers an example of how American government sometimes makes sweeping changes — not to everyone’s satisfaction, of course — followed by years of bitter contests at the margins. The enmity and duration of these fights produce impressions of sheer gridlock that are strong and often reinforced; thus the narrative of political immobility is easy to accept....Lunging and lurching forward with big changes, then enduring periods of backlash, consolidation and frustration, is often a better description of our political system than is “gridlock,” which is too unidimensional a concept to capture the reality....Of course, gridlock can save us from major mistakes, and sometimes we should wish for more of it. One problem, however, is that the fear of eventual gridlock can make our policy lurches too hasty and ill-considered. It might have been better to think through the Affordable Care Act or the fiscal stimulus more carefully, but a now-or-never logic discourages such introspection. Indeed, subsequent improvement of the legislation has proved politically difficult in both cases. Beyond economic policy, there is further evidence that gridlock does not rule America. Since the start of this century, the government has fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — truly major undertakings — and significantly expanded the surveillance state, as shown by revelations about the National Security Agency. These policies have economic implications, even if they wouldn’t be described as economic policies in the usual sense of the term. Politicians have reason to let the myth of extreme gridlock persist. Leaders like to pledge support for some ideas of their more extreme supporters without wishing to actually enact such changes, which would alienate many other voters. An appearance of gridlock makes it easier to save face. To many partisans it feels like gridlock, but in reality moderate voters are getting their way. As 2013 comes to a close, it may appear that economic policies are frozen into place. But let’s keep this broader perspective in mind: It’s a good time to wonder which surprising and sudden lurches the new year might bring, and whether we will bypass gridlock without even noticing."

"TYLER COWEN is a professor of economics at George Mason University."


Ed. note: I had to eliminate normal paragraphs. Google/Blogger didn't like this post. It put several inches between the original paragraphs. My choice was to leave it like that or mash it all together. It's one of the things google does when they don't like certain posts.


Pilot deliberately crashed Mozambique plane in Namibia swamp on Nov. 29, locked cockpit door. In 2011 EU banned all air carriers certified in Mozambique due to safety concerns-AFP

"The passengers were from Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, Brazil, France and China." In 2011 EU banned all air carriers certified in Mozambique from flying in its airspace due to safety concerns.

12/22/13, "Pilot 'deliberately' crashed Mozambique plane," AFP via

"Investigation into Mozambican Airlines crash in Namibia that killed 33 suggests captain intentionally downed plane."

"A preliminary investigation has revealed that a Mozambican Airlines captain, whose plane went down in Namibia in November, had a clear intention of crashing the aircraft.

Captain Herminio dos Santos Fernandes manipulated the autopilot in a way which "denotes a clear intention" to bring the plane down, said Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (IACM) head Joao Abreu on Saturday.

The plane was flying from the Mozambican capital Maputo to Luanda in Angloa in torrential rains and crashed in the swamps of Namibia's Bwabwata National Park on November 29, killing 27 passengers and its six crew.

Dos Santos Fernandes locked himself in the cockpit, ignored alarm signals and refused to allow his co-pilot back into the flight deck until moments before the crash.

"During these actions you can hear low and high-intensity alarm signals and repeated beating against the door with demands to come into the cockpit," Abreu was quoted as saying by state news agency AIM.

Dos Santos Fernandes also manually changed the aircraft's altitude three times from 11,582 metres to 180 metres.

Airbrake parameters showed the spoilers, and aerodynamic resistance plates on the wings, were deployed and held in that position until the end of the recordings, which proved the throttle was manually controlled, according to Abreu.

Banned airline

"The plane fell with the pilot alert and the reasons which may have given rise to this behaviour are unknown," said Abreu.

Dos Santos Fernandes had logged 9,053 flight hours, his licence was renewed in 2012 and he underwent a medical exam last September.

The passengers were from Mozambique, Angola, Portugal, Brazil, France and China.

This accident is the deadliest for Mozambique since a plane carrying then-president Samora Machel went down in 1986 in South Africa following an African leaders' summit and killed an estimated 34 people.

The European Union banned Mozambican Airlines (LAM) and all air carriers certified in Mozambique from flying in its airspace in 2011 due to major concerns over safety.

The investigation into the airline's most recent fatal crash is ongoing and includes a team of experts from Botswana, Angola, Mozambique, Brazil, China, the US and Namibia."


Friday, December 20, 2013

Maggot-infested UK National Health Service became too powerful to criticize, even senior NHS staff feared telling truth about failings-BBC

"Failings that put patients at risk had been allowed to continue for years, he said....He said many hospitals needed radical reform."...12/11/13, "'Maggot-infested' GP surgeries exposed by inspectors," BBC, By Nick Triggle


12/20/13, "NHS 'was too powerful to criticise' says regulator," BBC

"The NHS "became too powerful to criticise" despite many patients receiving a "wholly unsatisfactory" service, the health regulator has said.

David Prior told the Daily Telegraph that even the most senior staff were afraid of speaking out.

The Care Quality Commission chairman said the NHS should not be treated as a "national religion" beyond criticism.

He said the health service was becoming more honest about failings, which made it more likely they would be addressed.

Mr Prior warned that the service's perceived status had left some areas of care "out of control" because honesty about failings was not tolerated.

'High pedestal'
Mr Prior said: "It became too powerful to criticise. When things were going wrong people didn't say anything. If you criticised the NHS - the attitude was 'how dare you?'

"No organisation should be put on such a high pedestal that it is beyond criticism. Now it is getting more honest about our failings - which I think makes it more likely that we will address them."

Mr Prior said the emergency care system should be a priority for change and it was "wholly unsatisfactory" that so many patients struggled to get an appointment with their GP.

He said: "Their opening times have to be geared around the patients...."Working people need to be able to see their GP in the evening or at the weekend."

Mr Prior described a "chillingly defensive" culture in which even the most "alpha-male surgeons" felt frightened to speak out for fear of ending their careers.

"I had not realised that the culture in some of our hospitals was so damaged. That was an awakening," he said.

"When you are compared to a national religion, that is the problem," he said in reference to a description of the NHS by Lord Lawson....
Mr Prior also said it was "crazy" for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to be telephoning round hospital chief executives who had missed A&E targets. "There is an obsession. It's crazy to have a secretary of state doing that," he said.

"Of course he's doing it, because he's held accountable but what it all leads to is more money being put into A&E departments when that money should probably be put into primary and community care to stop people falling ill.""


12/11/13, "'Maggot-infested' GP surgeries exposed by inspectors," BBC, By Nick Triggle

"Inspectors have exposed a catalogue of failings at some GP practices in England, with drugs stored incorrectly and rooms so dirty they had maggots."...


NHS watchdog CQC hid negative findings: 

6/19/13, "NHS watchdog cover-up: Jeremy Hunt says 'whole truth' must come out," UK Guardian, and agencies

"Consultants from Grant Thornton were commissioned to look into the CQC's activities in relation to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust, which faces more than 30 compensation claims over deaths of, or injuries to, mothers and babies up to 2010.

David Prior, who took over as CQC chair in January, was blunt in his assessment of the findings, describing the report as damning and the watchdog's management at the time as totally dysfunctional.

"I am desperately sorry that this has happened," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "We were not set up then, we are not set up now to investigate hospitals.

"Our job is to investigate hospitals and we were not doing it … The fact is we have been in the position for a long time now of giving assurances to the public that we didn't back up by expert inspection.

"I've known for the past three months we were not fit for purpose when it came to hospital inspections.""... 



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I'm the daughter of an Eagle Scout (fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Mets) and a Beauty Queen.