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

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.

Britain's new licences for North Sea drilling

The UK handed out 167 new licences to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea yesterday, with BP, Shell, Centrica and France's Total among the biggest recipients.

19 people rescued from North Sea as helicopter carrying oil workers makes 'controlled ditching'

An investigation is underway after 19 people were today rescued when a helicopter carrying oil workers made a “controlled ditching” in the North Sea.

Since 1979, scientists have observed that, in the month of September, the amount of sea ice on the surface area of the ocean has declined significantly

A new low for global warming: Sea ice retreats to furthest point on record

Scientists warn that neither the cause nor the consequence of today’s new record retreat for Arctic sea ice should be ignored. But with drilling opportunities at stake, which interest will prevail?

Michael McCarthy: The scramble for the arctic is already underway

It is just beginning to become clear that an ominous new age is dawning for Arctic, one of the world most unspoiled ecosystems: a stampede for the region’s minerals and other natural resources, oil and gas above all, as the exploitation of them is being made possible by the rapid melting of the Arctic Ice by the warming climate.

A polar bear surrounded by melting ice in the Arctic

Greenpeace recruits star support in bid to save the Arctic

Environmental group launches campaign to establish global sanctuary free from oil drilling

Injured servicemen abandon Mount Everest charity attempt

Prince Harry has paid tribute to a team of injured servicemen whose attempt to climb Mount Everest has been abandoned because of safety concerns.

Injured soldiers stranded on Everest amid high winds

A team of injured soldiers scaling Everest, including a man from Wiltshire, was stranded at camp as the mountain was battered by high speed winds.

Simon Calder: Save the safety lecture for the those who head to the Med

Sailing beyond the Arctic Circle is one of the few fast-growing sectors of the cruise industry. More ships are based at UK ports for the summer than ever, with many venturing to Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and beyond. A voyage to the far north is immensely appealing. In one sense an Arctic adventure is the ultimate day trip, because the summer sun will not fall beneath the horizon all summer. And a thousand miles beyond the tree line, tourists can confront some of the world's rawest edges from the comfort of a cruise-ship cocoon. Mountains that no human has ever climbed soar from the ocean. Thick veins of snow trickle from the peaks and fuel the glaciers that gouge through the rock in geology's perpetual power struggle.

Blessed (right) says: 'We both feel the greatest danger in life is not to take on adventures'

How We Met: Matt Dickinson & Brian Blessed

Matt Dickinson, 46

London freezes yesterday

Science behind the big freeze: is climate change bringing the Arctic to Europe?

A loss of sea ice could be a cause of the bitter winds that have swept across the UK in the past week, weather experts say

Intrepid: Captain Robert Falcon Scott, photographed eight months before he reached the South Pole 100 years ago in January

Everybody loves a winner, but we like a trier even more

Could the British still summon the stoicism of Captain Scott, asks Harry Mount

Issy, age 11

'All I want for Christmas': Letters from Santa's postbag

From requests for Lego and leg warmers to a popcorn maker and a Puffle, letters to Santa are an art form in themselves. Clare Dwyer Hogg delves into the world of children's wishlists.

North star: Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen

A winter's tale in Norway: Explore the wilds of Roald Amundsen's homeland

It is certainly a house, its wooden frame, painted in soft hues of white and blue, perched prettily in its waterside setting. But I am not convinced, as I open its creaking front door, that it was ever a home – at least, not in the idea of a welcoming shelter from the storm.

Rowers reach 'impossible' North Pole, thanks to global warming

Six British adventurers were "on top of the world" yesterday after they became the first team to row to the magnetic North Pole.

British team are the first to row to the North Pole

A team of British adventurers was poised last night to become the first to row to the 1996 magnetic North Pole.

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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 30 January 2015
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee