13th February - Today's News: Snow in 49 US States

It's been a snowy ol' week in the USA resulting in 49 State dusted with snow: Hawaii's the holdout (try as they might, it appears no-one could find any snow on Mauna Kea, although some agencies have suggested otherwise) whilst in Texas, the Dallas-Fort Worth snow sets 'all kinds of records' - this wasn't expected and forecasters tell how they miscalled snowstorm of the century. Meanwhile the East Coast digs out from mammoth snowstorm and it looks like weekend travel will continue to be a mess after days of snow-related delays.

And inevitably, record snowfall revives warming debate - with some apparently arguing it supports AGW predictions whilst other like Rush Limbaugh calling it "just another nail in the coffin to the whole global warming theory" The reality of couse is slightly different. It's called weather. Only if it happens with increasing (or decreasing) regularity over a long period of time does it have any climatic significance whatsoever. Unfortunately for many this seems a more difficult concept to understand than super-string theory ....... And it's not yet illegal to be a dumbass and make dumbass comments in public. So I guess just have to live with it.

In Italy, snow in Rome has been the heaviest since 1986

But it's not cold everywhere as a heatwave roasts Rio, kills 32 in southern Brazil - it's the worst heat there in 50 years and made Rio the 2nd hottest place on the entire planet (2nd only to Ada in eastern Ghana) and in South Africa, residents left gasping as humidity, heat strike.

Tropical Cyclone Rene hits American Samao

Cold weather may hinder travel plans for Lunar New Year travellers in China (millions were stranded due to heavy snow whilst attempting to travel home for the holiday in 2008). This is only for northern parts though; elsewhere a new fire warning comes in SW China as drought lingers in Spring Festival.

Australia's rain may have moved to Antarctica - interestingly, if snowfall is increasing there then it might well lead to increased glacial growth: increased ice depth with the extra pressure then leading to increased glacial speed and thus more coastal calving of iceberg ..... And all this irrespective of any temperature change.

A new study from the Mediterranean suggests sea levels eratic during last ice age. Basically, around 81kya sea alevels appear to have been up to 1.6m higher than today, even though we were then in a glacial period. However, although the author, "Dorale and his colleagues contend that tectonic uplift hasn’t affected their data" I do think we should not disclude the possiblity of some short term tectonic movement - there is evidence from elsewhere in the Med that some coastal areas have sunk and then risen back to roughly their previous level over a periods of a few hundreds or thousand years (for example barnacle encrusted Roman ruins, now again above sea level - referred to in Richard Fortey's excellent book Earth: An Intimate History). Though of course there's no diorect evidence at present that this is what happened here. There's another article on the subject on Science Daily - with more emphasis on the rapid melting that is presumeed to have occurred prior to 81kya in order to produce such high sea levels. We don;t know why this occurred. If, indeed, it did.

Finally, I was interested to see that human gait adapted for efficent walking at cost of efficent running - which explains why I prefer hill walking instead of fell running!

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