Giant ice disc rotating in the Presumpscot River in Maine

❝ A disk of ice roughly 100 yards across that formed on the Presumpscot River and was slowly rotating and gaining size Monday had Westbrook buzzing almost as much as when city police spotted a giant snake eating a beaver in roughly the same location in June 2016.

Nothing ever came of those mysterious snake sightings – the reptile was dubbed “Wessie” by locals – but the sight of an alien-looking circle of ice stuck in the river had some people wondering about that section of the river’s knack for producing weird events.

And little ice discs in the Housatonic River in Connecticut

❝ Cliff Bates was hiking the Appalachian Trail in Northwest Connecticut with his dog in 9-degree weather Jan. 1 when he saw slowly-rotating discs of ice on the Housatonic River that resembled UFO saucers…

“It was just down there in the gorge…it was this kind of weird triangle and the ice chunks slowly circled inside that but never really left it,” Bates said…

❝ The discs are found in the cold climates of North America and Europe, Ryan Hanrahan, chief meteorologist for NBC Connecticut, said the past two weeks are the longest stretch on record of consecutive subfreezing temperatures. Given the extreme cold, he said it’s not a surprise to see things like the ice discs across the state.

Along with being rare, they are a more recently-documented phenomenon. Gil Simmons, chief meteorologist for WTNH said research has been ongoing for only 100 years, trying to understand the occurrence…

Read both articles – especially the second – which seems to explain how and why the discs rotate. At least in a laboratory. 🙂

This shows how far the “100th Meridian” has shifted since 1980


YaleE360/Katie Peek

Climate change works in mysterious ways; it isn’t limited to wildfires and melting ice. Today’s climate exhibit: The 100th Meridian — the famous dividing line that separates America’s wet East from the dry West — has migrated 140 miles east since 1980…

❝ The shift is the result of rising temperatures drying out parts of the northern plains and less rain falling further south, YaleEnvironment360 reports. This could be due to natural variability — changes caused by nonhuman forces — but the migration aligns with what researchers tell us to expect from global warming.

Ayup…

What does “dead” mean?

Should death be defined in strictly biological terms — as the body’s failure to maintain integrated functioning of respiration, blood circulation, and neurological activity? Should death be declared on the basis of severe neurological injury even when biological functions remain intact? Or is it essentially a social construct that should be defined in different ways?

❝ These are among the wide-ranging questions explored in a new special report, “Defining Death: Organ Transplantation and the Fifty-Year Legacy of the Harvard Report on Brain Death,”…The special report is a collaboration between The Hastings Center and the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School.

Sometimes, these days, I think of death and dying. Some of us must. The old ones. I think of Dylan Thomas. I must needs think of science. Most of me pretty worn; but, I may provide a jot of knowledge simply for what I have experienced and survived.

Trumpapillar


Jeff Cremer

❝ Did Donald Trump happen to lose one of his signature hairpieces in the Amazonian wilds of Peru? Wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer snapped this image of a caterpillar sporting the Republican’s signature bright orange-yellow tufts of hair while on a scouting expedition in Peru…He’s dubbed it the “Trumpapillar.”

Yes, of course, it’s poisonous.

Polar Vortex…Here it comes…Maybe

❝ Winter got off to a fast start in the Lower 48 even before it was technically winter. Waves of cold gripped the eastern two-thirds of the United States and several winter storms tracked across the region…

The polar vortex, the roaring river of air winding around the North Pole, holds the cards. What they reveal could be very disturbing and a harbinger of extreme winter weather in the Eastern United States…

❝ But when the vortex is disrupted, an ordinary winter can suddenly turn severe and memorable for an extended duration. “[It] can affect the entire winter,” Judah Cohen said…

Last week, he tweeted: “Confidence is growing in a significant #PolarVortex disruption in the coming weeks. This could be the single most important determinant of the weather this #winter across the Northern Hemisphere…”

“The longer it takes to happen, the bigger chance we have of a warmer winter,” Cohen said.

Um, OK. We’ll stay in touch.

Wormlike amphibian named for Trump


OK, the worm doesn’t have a combover – usually!

❝ A worm-like creature that lives underground was named after President Donald Trump because of his attitude toward climate change.

❝ EnviroBuild, a company that makes sustainable building materials, paid $25,000 to name the limbless amphibian Dermophis donaldtrumpi as part of a fundraiser for the Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation group.

❝ Aidan Bell, EnviroBuild’s cofounder, said in a statement on Tuesday that for Trump, “burrowing” his head underground helps him “when avoiding scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change” and appointing energy lobbyists to the Environmental Protection Agency, “where their job is to regulate the energy industry.”

I know, I know. Folks at BI added Trump’s hair to the photo of that innocent little amphibian.