WASHINGTON – A new study says that as the world gets warmer, parts of North America, Europe and Asia could see more frequent and stronger visits of cold air.
Researchers say that’s because of shrinking ice in the seas off Russia. Less ice would let more energy go from the ocean into the air, and that would weaken the atmospheric forces that usually keep cold air trapped in the Arctic.
But at times it escapes and wanders south, bringing with it a bit of Arctic super chill.
WATCH: What is a polar vortex? Global’s chief meteorologist Anthony Farnell explains
Story continues below
Polar vortex: The unwanted winter guest who refuses to leave
2013 Arctic sea ice is 6th lowest on record
As strange as it seems, scientists say increase in Antarctic ice may be sign of climate change
That can happen for several reasons, and the new study suggests that one of them occurs when ice in northern seas shrinks, leaving more water uncovered.
Normally, sea ice keeps heat energy from escaping the ocean and entering the atmosphere. When there’s less ice, more energy gets into the atmosphere and weakens the jet stream, the high-altitude river of air that usually keeps Arctic air from wandering south, said study co-author Jin-Ho Yoon of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington. So the cold air escapes instead.
That happened relatively infrequently in the 1990s, but since 2000 it has happened nearly every year, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. A team of scientists from South Korea and United States found that many such cold outbreaks happened a few months after unusually low sea ice levels in the Barents and Kara seas, off Russia.
NASA captured the the effects of the polar vortex as it descended down over Canada and the U.S. Midwest in February.
NOAA/NASA GOES Project
The study observed historical data and then conducted computer simulations. Both approaches showed the same strong link between shrinking sea ice and cold outbreaks, according to lead author Baek-Min Kim, a research scientist at the Korea Polar Research Institute. A large portion of sea ice melting is driven by man-made climate change from the burning of fossil fuels, Kim wrote in an email.
Sea ice in the Arctic usually hits its low mark in September and that’s the crucial time point in terms of this study, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. Levels reached a record low in 2012 and are slightly up this year, but only temporarily, with minimum ice extent still about 40 per cent below 1970s levels, he said.
Yoon said that although his study focused on shrinking sea ice, something else was evidently responsible for last year’s chilly visit from the polar vortex.
The Polar Vortex is a large-scale upper atmospheric feature, which brought a dome of arctic air that usually sits over the North Pole down over central North America.
Peter Quinlan / Skytracker
In the past several years, many studies have looked at the accelerated warming in the Arctic and whether it is connected to extreme weather farther south, from heatwaves to Superstorm Sandy. This Arctic-extremes connection is “cutting edge” science that is hotly debated by mainstream climate scientists, Serreze said. Scientists are meeting this week in Seattle to look at the issue even more closely.
READ MORE: Polar vortex in summer? Not quite
Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, is skeptical about such connections and said he doesn’t agree with Yoon’s study. His research points more to the Pacific than the Arctic for changes in the jet stream and polar vortex behaviour, and he said Yoon’s study puts too much stock in an unusual 2012.
But the study was praised by several other scientists who said it does more than show that sea ice melt affects worldwide weather, but demonstrates how it happens, with a specific mechanism.
Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech climate scientist in Lubbock, said the study “provides important insight into the cascading nature of the effects human activities are having on the planet.”
ABOVE: Apple fans in Hong Kong, Mississippi, and New York City camped out a few days in advance to get the new iPhone 6
TORONTO – After months of speculation, Apple fans will finally get a glimpse of the tech giant’s next generation of products.
Apple’s elusive Sept. 9 event is shaping up to be a big one.
But the notoriously tight-lipped company has been more secretive than ever about the event. The stark white invitation sent to reporters and industry personnel doesn’t give any hints about what may be revealed.
“Wish we could say more,” reads the invitation.
[Drumroll…] And here's the invite to Apple's 9/9 event. “We wish we could say more.” 杭州桑拿按摩论坛t.co/xjmcZyohk1— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) August 28, 2014
The event will take place at the same Cupertino, Calif. venue where Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs unveiled the original Mac computer 30 years ago. So if the venue is any indication, Apple may be gearing up to unveil some big products.
What we do know is these fall events are usually used to announce the new version of Apple’s flagship iPhone – but according to industry experts, the iPhone could be overshadowed this time around by the company’s first foray into wearable tech.
Here’s what to expect from Apple’s Sept. 9 event:
Brace yourselves: The iPhone may be getting a sizable upgrade. Apple is widely expected to announce not one but two new versions of its flagship product – one with a 4.7-inch screen and another with a 5.5-inch screen.
The iPhone 5S, released last September, has a screen size of 4 inches. If Apple does unveil a 5.5-inch version of the iPhone 6, it would be a direct competitor of other “phablets” on the market such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note smartphone line which boasts a 5.5-inch and 5.7-inch version.
READ MORE: Apple shares fall after Samsung unveils new phones
And bigger screens could mean bigger sales for the tech giant – some analysts think Apple could sell at least 70 million units of the iPhone 6 within the first few months after the device hits the market.
Both phones are rumoured to be thinner and feature a “sapphire crystal display” – a highly scratch-resistant glass. Of course, it’s likely both models will have an improved processor and camera.
The iPhone 6 models will likely ship within two weeks of the announcement for Canadian consumers; but recent reports suggest one of the devices could be released at a later date.
Wearable tech fans may finally be able to feast their eyes on perhaps the longest-rumoured Apple product ever – the iWatch.
That said, little is known about the mysterious smartwatch. Speculation about the device’s design has ranged from a snap bracelet with a curved display to a more traditional-looking smartwatch resembling the company’s square iPod Nano.
Either way, Apple’s smartwatch will likely include a bevy of sensors and health monitoring features to work with the recently announced HealthKit, which will allow users to keep track of their health data including their blood pressure, steps taken, blood-sugar levels, nutrition levels and more. Apple has also teamed up with Nike and the Mayo clinic to develop mobile health apps.
Many reports suggest that even if the iWatch is announced Sept. 9, it won’t ship until early 2015.
Where there’s a new iPhone; there’s a new operating system. Apple users already got a sneak peak at the latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
READ MORE: Apple unveils iOS 8, OS X Yosemite at WWDC
The new software will sport interactive notifications, so you can respond to a message without having to leave another app. It will have new gestures, such as double tapping to see a list of frequent contacts, and the ability to record voice and video clips through iMessage.
The most recent rumors surrounding Apple’s latest business venture center around mobile payments. According to a report from Bloomberg, the tech giant has partnered with Visa, MasterCard and American Express for a mobile wallet for iPhone users.
The report, which cited a source familiar with the matter, said Apple would also partner with banks and retailers.
This comes after many reports suggested the iPhone 6 would include near-field communication technology (NFC) in the form of a chip allowing for “tap-and-go” payments similar to some credit cards. The technology is cutting-edge: Android devices have used NFC technology for more than three years; Google also uses the technology for its mobile wallet.
But an interesting twist to an iPhone wallet would turn Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner into a pin for the user’s bank accounts and credit cards.
KELOWNA, B.C. – In an update to parents and the community at large, the Superintendent of the Central Okanagan School District has expressed profound regret that school has not begun on schedule.
“It is with profound regret that we are unable to start the school year as we would normally expect to,” states Hugh Gloster in a letter addressed to parents/ guardians and community members and issued September 2nd.
Story continues below
But Gloster says SD #23 remains hopeful an agreement between teachers and the provincial government can be reached in the near future.
“We look forward to the time when we can welcome all of our staff, students and parents back to our schools, as none of us want to see the current situation continue,” says Gloster.
He goes on to ask parents to continue to make alternate arrangements for the care of children until further notice.
While principals and vice-principals are the only staff set up in schools around the Central Okanagan while the labour dispute continues, Gloster asks that questions be directed to schools through email, “as it may be impractical for them to answer their switchboards”.
To help parents and guardians access the $40 from the provincial government to assist with child care for public school students 12 and under, Gloster notes the student’s Personal Education Number (PEN) is found on a recent report card.
Preschools that operate inside public schools, StrongStart Centres, after-school care programs and evening rentals will not be operating during the duration of the strike. School fields may be accessed after normal school hours, according to the memo, but states this could change in the future if the School District is unable to send maintenance crews in the future.
Refunds for school space rentals affected by the strike will be reviewed after the dispute, says Gloster.
Parents and students rallied Tuesday morning in front of Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office.
Labour unions are scheduled to rally at the West Kelowna office in support of teachers Wednesday at 4 p.m.
News Release – September 2 2014 (2) Superintendent Hugh Gloster, SD 23, issued a letter to update parents on the school strike.
Watch above: Police, fire crews, and park rangers spent the day searching the North Saskatchewan River shoreline in the hopes of solving missing persons cases. Quinn Ohler reports.
EDMONTON – For the first time, a new initiative will see Edmonton police, along with several other organizations, conduct a search of the North Saskatchewan River shoreline to locate any potential human remains.
Story continues below
UPDATE: Body of man recovered from North Saskatchewan River
Woman’s body found in North Saskatchewan River
Options for suicide prevention barriers revealed for Edmonton’s High Level Bridge
Wednesday’s exercise is led by the EPS Missing Persons Unit. It also involves police helicopter Air 1, the Edmonton Fire and Rescue boat, and City of Edmonton park rangers.
“This is a first-time initiative that will focus resources on searching the river and its shoreline for possible human remains from one end of the city to the other,” said EPS Const. Cory Kerr, of the service’s Missing Persons Unit.
Emergency officials say they aren’t searching for anyone in particular. Within 15 minutes of launching their boats early Wednesday morning, Edmonton Fire Rescue crews pulled the body of a man out of the river.
Police aren’t releasing any details surrounding the man’s death, only saying they don’t believe it’s a historical missing persons case.
“Timely, yes. But had we not been out there, we may never have known what happened to that individual,” said Sgt. Neil Zurawell, of the EPS’s Missing Persons Unit.
The sweep runs in conjunction with an RCMP search of the river outside city limits.
The RCMP says the purpose of its search is to give EPS and RCMP the opportunity to possibly recover the remains of one or more missing people who “entered the river at some point.” Officers said this time of year is a good time to conduct the search because the water level of the North Saskatchewan River is at its lowest and clearest.
“This is a proactive deployment of multiple ground and air resources for one day, which will focus specifically on a primary river artery that travels through our city,” said Kerr.
The sweep started at the EPS boat launch, located near the EPCOR water treatment facility, and fanned out east and west along the river shoreline.
Kerr is hopeful the initiative will become an annual one.
The EPS has 86 open missing persons files dating back to the 1970s.
WATCH: Take a look at some of the new devices that Samsung unveiled today
BERLIN – Samsung’s new smartphones aren’t getting bigger, but one will have a side display for quick access to the flashlight, 桑拿会所, news and frequently used apps.
Story continues below
The Galaxy Note Edge was announced at a trade show in Berlin on Wednesday, alongside the new Galaxy Note 4 phone, which lacks the side screen, and a virtual-reality headset called Gear VR. They are due for release this fall, in time for holiday shopping, and aim to compete with Apple’s new iPhones due to be unveiled next week.
The Edge uses Samsung’s flexible-display technology, which came out with much fanfare last year but has seen little use beyond a phone and a fitness device with displays that were slightly curved.
READ MORE: LG Display unveils 18-inch flexible display
With the Edge, the Korean electronics company is offering a practical use for the curvature. While the main screen remains flat like previous phones, the right edge extends and curves until it reaches the back. That creates a side display so information such as weather and time can be seen from the side when the phone is laid on a table – such as a nightstand next to the bed.
With the side display, the phone’s camera functions more like a stand-alone, point-and-shoot camera, as the shutter button and other functions appear on top when the phone is held horizontally. Developers of other apps will be able to specify how the side display gets used.
The side display also provides one-tap access to various apps normally found on the home screen, as well as to functions such as the flashlight and the stopwatch, akin to what Apple offers in the iPhone’s Control Center with a swipe up from the bottom.
Samsung didn’t announce prices or specific release dates. In the U.S., last year’s Galaxy Note 3 went for about $700 without a contract, or $300 with one. Prices are likely to be similar when the Note 4 comes out in October through all four national carriers in the U.S. The Edge will likely cost more. The Edge and the VR will be out some time in the fall.
Analysts said the new display feature could cut both ways.
“An edge-based display will give Samsung’s smartphone clear differentiation in a crowded market,” said Ian Fogg, an analyst covering the mobile industry at IHS in London.
“But for Samsung to maximize the potential of an edge display it needs third party apps to support the display with additional Samsung-specific functions,” he said.
If the South Korean giant wants to avoid paying developers to kick start the development of such apps, it might have to make the feature standard across its broad smartphone portfolio, said Fogg.
Samsung made the announcements at the IFA trade show, one of the world’s longest-running showcases for consumer electronics and home appliances.
In recent years, the German capital has become a popular home for technology startups, making the IFA a popular location for companies to launch the latest mobile gadgetry as well as innovations in more traditional fields such as home entertainment systems.
READ MORE: iPhone most popular smartphone in Canada, says report
The new phones were announced amid expectations that Apple will unveil new iPhones next week. The iPhone 6 is expected to feature a 4.7-inch screen, up from the current 4 inches, to make it more competitive with larger smartphones made by Samsung and other companies. There has been speculation that Apple may also unveil an iPhone with a 5.5-inch screen.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5, which came out in April, has a 5.1-inch screen. The Note is Samsung’s line of larger phones and emphasizes note-taking with an included stylus. The Note 4 will have a 5.7-inch screen, the same as the Note 3. The Edge’s screen is 5.6 inches.
Both will have a 16 megapixel rear camera and 3.7 megapixels on the front. The front camera will be able to take sharper selfies than the typical camera phone. They also will let more people fit into selfies by stitching multiple images together.
Meanwhile, Samsung will sell the Gear VR headset as a companion to the Note 4. It won’t work with the Edge or other phones. The Note 4 attaches to the headset, which has sensors to gauge the head’s position and tells the phone which part of a 360-degree image to display. It can be used to give people an immersive experience with concerts, aerial footage and games.
But video and other content will need to be adapted for the device. Samsung says it expects to have content partnerships in place by the time the device goes on sale.
VANCOUVER – Virgin Atlantic is dropping its only Canadian destination, Vancouver, when summer seasonal service ends Oct. 11. The service operated five flights per week.
“Through our partnership with Delta Air Lines, we believe we can still serve the Canadian market using the wide range of connection opportunities that are available to our customers,” Virgin Atlantic’s Sarah Coggins said in an email.
Story continues below
“As a result of this partnership, we will continue to offer a one-stop service to Vancouver on Delta Air Lines connecting through Seattle or Minneapolis.”
The U.K.-based airline says the change is part of a larger update of its route network, which will add or increase service between London Heathrow and several U.S. cities. Among other changes to its U.S. routes,, it’s adding daily service to Detroit and increasing daily service to New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
It’s also ending service between London and Tokyo’s Narita airport and between London and Mumbai, India, on Feb. 1 and winter seasonal service to Cape Town, South Africa, after April 2015.
Virgin Atlantic is 51 per cent owned by Richard Branson, the flamboyant British businessman who founded the Virgin group of companies, and 49 per cent by Delta Air Lines, which acquired its stake in the British carrier last year.
Delta and Virgin Atlantic have since formed a partnership on transatlantic services. Delta serves Vancouver from three of its U.S. hubs: Seattle, Minneapolis (once daily each) and Salt Lake City (twice daily).
Virgin Atlantic’s summer seasonal route between Vancouver and Heathrow, which has been in place since it began with four flights per week in 2012, is all that remains of a much more ambitious plan outlined by Branson in 2000 and early 2001, before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks forced the U.K. airline to retrench and pull out of Canada.
Before the 9-11 attacks put the global airline industry into a tailspin, Branson had seen Canada as a logical expansion for Virgin Atlantic and he spoke publicly of potentially starting a Virgin domestic carrier in Canada if federal rules changed.