News Temperatures have plunged to -13C in the town of Hell, Michigan

The extreme weather in the US has got so cold that even Hell has frozen over.

A pedestrian makes their way along a snow packed street in Indianapolis

What is a polar vortex? The arctic winds that brought cold air and chaos to the US

Much of the United States is currently in the grip of a polar vortex, a system of dense air producing plummeting temperatures and swathes of freezing weather, bringing some parts of the country to a halt and causing chaos in others.

Greenpeace International activist Mannes Ubels from the Netherlands jumps for joy holding his passport outside of the offices of the Federal Migration Service Department in St. Petersburg after receiving a Russian transit visa

Arctic 30 heading home after being cleared under Putin amnesty

30 Greenpeace activists detained in September will have left the country by the end of the weekend after having their charges dropped and being issued transit visas

Dima Litvinov became the first member of the so-called 'Arctic 30' to leave Russia; boarding a train at a railway station in St. Petersburg

First Greenpeace activist leaves Russia - with rest of 'Arctic 30' to leave by Friday

The first of 30 Greenpeace activists arrested after a protest over Arctic oil drilling has left Russia, the environmental group said on Thursday, with all expected to get clearance to leave Russia by Friday.

26 members of the so-called 'Arctic 30' pictured at the beginning of December

Russia formally drops criminal charges against Arctic 30 Greenpeace activists

The protesters and two freelance journalists, including six Britons - were arrested after Russian authorities boarded their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, during an anti-drilling demonstration in September

Arctic 30 and Pussy Riot members to be freed after Russia passes amnesty law

Hopes are now that activists and journalists will be home for Christmas following move by Russian parliament

A photograph supplied bu the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Arctic sea ice in 2013
This illustration from ‘The Eventful Voyage of HM Discovery Ship 'Resolute' to the Arctic Regions’ is one of a million-plus British Library images that have just been made available on the internet

Historic images brought into 21st century after being posted on Flickr by British Library

More than a million pictures have been scanned from texts published in the 17th to the 19th centuries

Alex Harris was one of the first 'Arctic 30' detainees to be granted bail

Arctic 30: Russia 'defies international ruling' and tells protesters they cannot leave

The Russian authorities have told a group of Greenpeace activists and freelance journalists arrested during a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic that they cannot leave the country.

Canada vows to defend Santa Claus from Russian troops as row over territory escalates

Vladimir Putin told a defence ministry meeting that he wished to see the military bolster its presence in the territory

Greenpeace activists target Real Madrid press conference, leaving Carlo Ancelotti looking bemused

Champions League sponsor Gazprom were the target

Viewpoint: Pepper Club Hotel, Cape Town

Get me out of here... - winter sun, northern Norway, Cape Town

Now... Winter sun in the wild Atlantic

Cape Verde is an Atlantic island nation that basks in year-round sunshine. Departing on 10 December, you can spend a week exploring the main island of Boa Vista, using the Iberostar as your base, with meals, transfers and Thomson flights from Gatwick for £828pp. capeverde.co.uk

Sheep in the hills above Glenarm in Co Antrim, as the first snowfall of the season covered northern parts of the county last month

UK weather: Met Office issues snow and sleet warning as cold front brings Arctic winds and icy conditions

Sleet and snow showers to hit Scotland later in the week

Green peace at last after campaign against drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic?

Russia was no doubt finding the fuss over the Arctic 30 embarrassing

British Greenpeace International activist Anthony Perrett at the Court hearings, in Murmansk, Russia

Greenpeace Arctic 30: Five Britons released on bail

Mr Perrett and Bryan have now been moved to an undisclosed location after a St Petersburg court granted their release

Greenpeace Arctic 30: Two more Brits granted bail in Russia

Seven more Greenpeace activists arrested by the Russian authorities in a protest against drilling in the Arctic have been granted bail, including two Britons - Frank Hewetson from London and Iain Rogers from Exeter.

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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London