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
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Prague, Budapest and Vienna
Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 1 May 2015
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
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Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

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A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
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300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before