Voices from Russia

Saturday, 11 January 2014

11 January 2014. A Note From Your Indefatigable Editor… Niagara Falls DOESN’T Freeze Solid, Even in Cold Snaps

00 Frozen Niagara Falls. Canada. 11.01.14


As I live in upstate New York, I might know a thing or two about local winters. Yes, it does get plenty cold. It always does. There’s always freezing on the rivers, and the spring thaw is always dicey as a result. The farther you go from the sea, the colder it gets. That’s why Albany’s winters are relatively mild for the region, and why the St Lawrence Valley is better off than some areas farther from the ocean winds. Of course, winters in the Upper Midwest and on the Canadian Prairies are the most brutal, leading to bumper stickers in Fargo and Edmonton reading, “40 Below Keeps the Riff-Raff Out”.

I know people in the Buffalo area… they all tell me that Niagara Falls NEVER freezes completely, even though winters are always Siberian-grade. A state trooper told me that they’re always on the lookout for nutters who try to walk across the ice… it never freezes “solid” (there’s always water underneath), so, this makes winter “interesting” for them. He said, “I don’t mind summer, it’s just crowds, drunks, and a few scuffles. Winter… you’ve got to keep an eye out at all times for idiots trying to walk on the ice. It’s dangerous, we fish out a body every winter, it seems”. Niagara Falls freezing solid is an urban legend, along with cats in the microwave and alligators in the sewers.

Oh, yes… Niagara Falls did “stop” once, in the 1840s. However, that was due to ice floes on the Niagara River, NOT the Falls freezing solid. That’s the only time that happened in historical memory. Sorry, kids…


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Tuesday, 25 September 2012

25 September 2012. Sergei Yolkin’s World. Ice in Europa

Ice in Europa

Sergei Yolkin



Here’s another punning play on words from Sergei Yolkin. Polynia in English is a loanword from Russian… in Russian, it originally meant an “ice hole”… thus, the aliens jumping into the ephemeral “polynia” from the “vanna” (bathhouse).


Planetary Scientists at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) in Madrid reported that areas with relatively thin ice sheets on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, are rare and quite short-lived phenomena, as they disappear about ten thousand years after their appearance.

25 September 2012

Sergei Yolkin



Thursday, 6 September 2012

6 September 2012. From the Russian Web… FROZEN Ain’t Just for Siberia, Virginia…


The above image is from a postcard with a 1911 postmark, but most sources give it an earlier (unspecified) date. It’s Niagara Falls… and this is photographic proof that we’ve just gone through a “cold cycle” in climatic fluctuations. Now, it’s time for a warmer trend for a century or two… all very normal, and all very cyclical.

I’ve upset both the “conservatives” and “liberals”… that means that I must be on the right track. Remember… the truth doesn’t fit neat categories… the devil’s in the details… always has been, always will be… pass the jug, this was thirsty work.


Friday, 31 August 2012

Arctic Sea Ice Renewal

Arctic ice levels, August 2012


The National Snow and Ice Data Centre in the USA confirmed that data presented by its Japanese colleagues show that Arctic sea ice shrank to its lowest point since satellite records began in 1979, down to 4.1 million square kilometres (1.58 million  square miles) in August. This is 70,000 square kilometres (27,000 square miles) less than the previous record low set on 18 September 2007. Foreign experts forecast that by 2040, the Earth’s ice cap might disappear, but Russian scientists disagree with these pessimistic forecasts. Experts from various countries are closely monitoring the state of the Arctic sea ice because this region is the “weather kitchen” of the planet. Since 1979, they’ve used satellite images, but applied different methods to assess the area covered by ice. Scientists from the Arctic and Antarctic Scientific Research Institute (AANII) in St Petersburg are leaning on rich experience gained by field studies, which foreign experts don’t have.

Dr Genrikh Alekseyev said, “The findings show that the Arctic sea ice is ‘renewing’ itself; this is a seasonal change, it’s not the disappearance of the icepack. The reason is that in the summer, the ice melts, whilst in the winter, ice is formed. Practically, the area covered by winter ice shrinks very slowly. In the winter, the ice layer is restored. However, this concerns especially newly-formed ice in the process of formation, and, by next year, its thickness can reach up to 1-metre (@40 inches) or more”.

In winter, the newly-formed ice actively can form a 1.2-metre (@47 inches)-thick layer, whilst the coastal ice can grow up to 2.0 metres (79 inches). Consequently, the Arctic sea ice layer doesn’t change significantly. Moreover, according to Dr Alekseyev, in the summer, ice melts seas unequally in different places. This year, the seas through which the Northern Sea Route passes were covered with an unusually-thick ice layer. A thin ice layer covered the Barents Sea, but the amount of ice in the Kara, Laptev, East Siberian, and Chukchi Seas exceeded the level of 2007. The conditions in the Arctic in a warm summer can be considered abnormal, but the Northern Sea Route hasn’t been completely freed from ice yet. Dr Alekseyev noted, “This means that we’d still need icebreakers in future. According to forecasts made by using calculations on global models, by the end of the century, ice might disappear almost completely in the summer, but ice will be formed up to the previous borders in the winter”.

The extreme melting of ice in the summer 2012 is most likely the last sign that the warming is ending. In fact, ice is a product of climate, and Dr Alekseyev pointed up that when you compared the graphs of the air temperature and melting ice, one can see that they coincide. The long-term monitoring by experts at the institute confirmed the presence of a 60-year climatic fluctuation cycle, where reorganisation of atmospheric processes and the circulation of oceans related to them take place. At present, according to their calculations, another period of warming is ending, whilst the previous warming peak was registered between 1930 and 1940. We only know the nature of these cycles in a vague way, and scientists are still unaware of many of the natural processes of the oceanic environment.

 31 August 2012

Maria Domnitskaya

Voice of Russia World Service


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