Winter storm pummels Midwest, Metrodome deflates

A blizzard dumped thigh-deep snow on some areas of the upper Midwest on Sunday, playing havoc with travelers and causing the roof of a large stadium, the Metrodome, to collapse in Minneapolis. The snow hit Wisconsin and Minnesota the hardest as it moved eastward. Blizzard and winter storm warnings were in effect for Chicago and parts of northern Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and North and South Dakota. Upwards of 20 inches of snow fell on some areas, the National Weather Service said. As much as 22 inches of snow fell in the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St. Paul, local media said.

Climate talks end with modest steps

The world's governments agreed on Saturday to modest steps to combat climate change and to give more money to poor countries, but they put off until next year tough decisions on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The deal includes a Green Climate Fund that would give $100 billion a year in aid to poor nations by 2020, measures to protect tropical forests and ways to share clean energy technologies. Ending a marathon session of talks in the Mexican beach resort of Cancun, almost 200 countries also set a target of limiting a rise in average world temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) over pre-industrial times.

Cold weather killing Florida’s manatees

Unusually cold weather last winter killed Florida's endangered manatees at a record rate, a report said on Friday. During 2010, a record 699 manatees have died in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Research Institute. Of those, 244 were attributed to cold weather and many of the 271 undetermined deaths were also likely caused by weather. In most years, the leading cause of manatee deaths is from collisions with power boats. The latest surveys estimate there are only about 5,000 of the chubby marine mammals left in Florida waters.

EPA and Bed Bugs

Bedbugs or bed bugs are small parasitic insects of the family Cimicidae. The term usually refers to species that prefer to feed on human blood. All insects in this family live by feeding exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals. The name bedbug is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of houses and especially beds or other areas where people sleep. Bedbugs, though not strictly nocturnal, are mainly active at night and are capable of feeding unnoticed on their hosts. Bedbugs have been around as long as humankind had beds. Recently there has been an upsurge in their nocturnal attacks in the US. To help find solutions to the nation’s bed bug problem, the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup is convening a second national summit set for February 1-2, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The summit is open to the public and will focus on ways the federal government and others can continue to work together on management and control of these pests. The first federal bed bug summit was held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in April 2009. Since then, EPA has helped organize the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup, which consists of EPA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.

The Caveman Multi-Tasker

Contrary to public opinion, multi-tasking is not a modern phenomenon. This uniquely human skill was around long before the era of electronic distractions. According to a study from Monica L. Smith, anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), it is multi-tasking itself that makes us human.

Greenland Ice Sheet Flow Driven by Short-Term Weather Extremes, Not Gradual Warming, Research Reveals

Sudden changes in the volume of meltwater contribute more to the acceleration -- and eventual loss -- of the Greenland ice sheet than the gradual increase of temperature, according to a University of British Columbia study.

New York Legislators Pass Bill Imposing Moratorium on Permits For Hydraulic Fracturing

On November 29, 2010, the New York State Assembly passed a bill imposing a state-wide moratorium on new authorizations for hydraulic fracturing. An identical bill was passed in the New York State Senate in August. The bill, which has been sent to Governor Paterson for signing, suspends until May 15, 2011 the issuance of new permits "for the drilling of a well which utilizes the practice of hydraulic fracturing for the purpose of stimulating natural gas or oil in low permeability natural gas reservoirs, such as the Marcellus and Utica shale formations."

Master Builders…The Beavers show us how it’s done.

It's at this time of year when many of us batten down the hatches and prepare for the chilly months ahead! Pulling shut the windows and doors, building a roaring fire and snuggling up under our coziest of blankets is at the top of our priority list. But how does that compare with the animal kingdom? Beavers, unlike many of their closest kin which include marmots and squirrels, do not hibernate and live up to their name, keeping busy and working hard to make sure that their winter lodges, much like our homes, are solid, secure and most of all, full of seasonal essentials such as a fully stocked larder and a tailor-made chimney!

U.N. talks on knife edge, Mexico urges agreement

Talks on a 190-nation deal to slow global warming were on a "knife edge" early on Friday as Brazil and Japan expressed guarded hopes of ending a dispute between rich and poor about curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Negotiators were set to work well into the early hours of the morning seeking to end a standoff over the future of the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, which binds almost 40 rich nations to curb emissions until 2012, before the final day of the two-week talks on Friday.

Dark Cosmos

Dark matter in cosmological terms is matter that is inferred to exist from gravitational effects on visible matter and background radiation, but is undetectable by emitted or scattered electromagnetic radiation. Its existence was hypothesized to account for discrepancies between measurements of the mass of galaxies, clusters of galaxies and the entire universe made through dynamical and general relativistic means, and measurements based on the mass of the visible luminous matter these objects contain: stars and the gas and dust of the interstellar and intergalactic media. It is very mysterious stuff that cannot be seen, seems to exist and has a profound effect on the universe,. Cosmologists have come up with a new way to solve their problems as to what and why it is. They are inviting scientists, including those from totally unrelated fields, to participate in a grand competition. The idea is to spur outside interest in one of cosmology's trickiest problems -- measuring the invisible dark matter and dark energy that permeate our universe. The results will help in the development of new space missions, designed to answer fundamental questions about the history and fate of our universe.