BBC BLOGS - See Also
« Previous | Main | Next »

Green Room

Post categories:

Mark Kinver | 13:26 UK time, Monday, 4 January 2010

This edition of Green Room takes a look at the fallout from the deluge of snow that has hit various corners of the northern hemisphere, and offers you a seasonal suggestion on what to do with your Christmas tree once 12th night has passed.

Snowman in a park (Image: PA)

The heavy snowfalls soon lost their magical appeal as it caused travel chaos in many parts of the US and Europe

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. While it may be the season to be jolly, for many people the weather outside has been a little bit more than frightful.

Thousands of people in the US and Europe found their holiday plans disrupted.

About 2,000 flights in the US were cancelled as snow storms swept down the eastern side of the country, reaching as far south as Florida.

In Europe, nations well versed in dealing with copious amounts of snow being dumped in a short space of time struggled to deal with the recent conditions.

Even Russia’s transport infrastructure, which most of us would assume could cope with the worst that nature could throw at it, suffered amid the bleak mid-winter power cuts. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was not impressed, and banned government officials from taking holidays until the problems were sorted.

It has also been a bad year for a number of species. An estimated 700 manatees have died in the waters around Florida this year, according to US wildlife officials.

They attributed 244 of the deaths to "cold stress", as most occurred during January, which included the state’s coldest 12-day period since 1940.

Forecasters have found themselves in the eye of a storm as people vented their frustration over what they saw as a lack of preparation for the arrival of the big chill.

The UK Met Office’s chief scientist, Julia Slingo, said the past 12 months of extreme weather highlighted the need for the agency to have access to more supercomputer capacity.

She told Nature News that they needed four times the computing power currently available to forecasters:

“The science is well ahead of our ability to implement it. It's quite clear that if we could run our models at a higher resolution we could do a much better job - tomorrow - in terms of our seasonal and decadal predictions. It's so frustrating.”

However, the Met Office says its severe weather warning system did provide advance warning to local authorities and government agencies.

Ice on a Christmas tree (Image: Reuters)

One project is looking for unwanted Christmas trees in order to make wooden stools

The one place in the northern hemisphere you would expect to be firmly in the grip of the frozen winter is the Arctic. Yet, latest data from National Snow and Ice Data Center shows that sea-ice extent is unusually low. It is too early to tell whether this is an anomaly or an indication that 2011 will set a new record low.

And finally, just in case you are wondering how you should make the most of your Christmas tree when the time comes to wrap your baubles in cotton-wool for another year, here is an idea.

The treehugger blog suggests that, once 12th night has passed, you donate your tree to the Christmas Tree Project that will make a rather fetching stool to help take the strain of the extra pounds accumulated during the festive season of excess and over-indulgence.

More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.