February 15, 2012
Snowfall

Snowfall along the river, Omagh     Photo: Kenneth Allen

New Laser Measures Snowpack to the Inch

Tech could be used in avalanche forecasts

Scientists in Boulder, Colorado, have developed a new device that can measure up to 10 feet of snow within half an inch accuracy using GPS signals and laser pulses. The technology can take as many as 1,000 readings at different points in an large area, providing snow cover and snowpack measurements with a far higher degree of accuracy than than snow gauges or yardsticks. Wind and sunlight can cause snow conditions to vary widely even across short distances. The measurements could help predict avalanche danger and flood hazards and provide valuable information to transportation crews and water managers. "It looks like new technology will finally give us the ability to say exactly how much snow is on the ground," scientist Ethan Gutmann said.

Read more at UPI

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Charles Bridge, Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague     Photo: Shutterstock

Devastating Cold Snap Worsens in Europe

Death toll hits 600, thousands isolated

The death toll from eastern Europe's cold snap rose above 600 this week as tens of thousands of people remain trapped in their homes. Temperatures in Russia, Romania, and the Czech Republic began dropping below zero in January and have recently been accompanied by heavy snowfall. Emergency officials in Romania have struggled to reach as many as 23,000 people who are stranded because of closed roads. On Wednesday, slippery conditions were blamed for a 200-car accident near Prague. In the Siberian city of Toko, temperatures reportedly fell to -63 Fahrenheit on Monday.

Read more at the Associated Press

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The Piolets d'Or logo

The Piolets d'Or logo     Photo: Courtesy of Piolets d'Or

Piolets d'Or Nominees Announced

Late Norwegian alpinist among finalists

A Norwegian alpinist who died last week and an American expedition to the world's second-highest unclimbed mountain are among the six nominees for this year's Piolets d'Or, the award for the year's best alpine ascents. The jury, headed up by Alpinist Editor-in-Chief Michael Kennedy, announced finalists for the award yesterday in a press release. The most notable climber named is Norwegian Bjorn-Eivind Artun, who was nominated for his ascent of Torre Egger's south face with Ole Lied. Artun and partner Stein-Ivar Gravdal died in a rockfall accident last week while attempting a new route up Kjerag in Lysefjorden, Norway. Other nominees include Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk for the first ascent of Meru's Shark's Fin, Mark Richey, Steve Swenson, and Freddie Wilkenson for their ascent of Saser Kangri II, previously the world's second-highest unclimbed peak, and Denis Urubko and Gennadiy Durov for their new route up Pik Pobeda in Kyrgyzstan.

Read more at Alpinist

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Roxy Pro, 2009

2009 Roxy Pro     Photo: surfglassy/Flickr

Lisa Andersen May Surf at Roxy Pro

4-time world champ out of retirement

Lisa Andersen, one of the greatest female surfers in history, will compete for a spot in the Roxy Pro nearly a decade after retiring from competitive surfing. Andersen, 42, plans to enter the Moskova Trials later this month in Queensland, Australia. The winner from Moskova will gain entry to the main Roxy Pro event, which runs from February 25 through March 7. Andersen is a four-time ASP world champion and remains a major figure in women's surfing. "Every year I come and I barely get a wave," she said "this year I’ll be able to get out in the water and perform and have some fun."

Read more at Transworld Surf

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