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 15 May 2015
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
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Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
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The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

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Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back