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Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0
Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0

Chicago Is Colder Than Mars This Week

Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0
Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0

Chicagoans preparing for holiday feasts this week are in luck: Any food that doesn’t fit in the freezer can just be left outside. The Windy City has been sustaining temperatures colder than most parts of Earth—and, as DNAInfo reports, all of Mars.

The record for lowest temperature in Chicago was set on December 19, 1983, at a blistering -14 degrees Fahrenheit. But 33 years later to the day, that record was nearly broken, as the frozen city reached -13°F overnight. With wind chill, that number dropped to -30°F. By comparison, the surface of Mars looked positively toasty at a comfortable -2°F.

The brutal cold in Chicago has prompted the closing of more than 300 area schools and the cancellation of dozens of flights, and has slowed local trains. There are a few places on the planet that are colder—the North Pole, for example—but most of them are sparsely populated, if anyone lives there at all.

Temperatures began to thaw by Tuesday, December 20, but if Monday’s freeze was any indication, Chicago residents are going to be in for one heck of a winter.

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© NEXT architects
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Design
This Footbridge in the Netherlands Transforms With Rising Waters
© NEXT architects
© NEXT architects

Twenty-six percent of the Netherlands lies below sea level, making the country vulnerable to floods. This is especially true of the 2000-year-old city of Nijmegen, which straddles the Waal river. The town is home to many examples of flood-resistant infrastructure, but one footbridge there works a bit differently. Instead of building it around the threat of rising waters, the designers of the Zalige bridge made a crossing that changes along with its environment, according to Co.Design.

Commissioned as part of the Netherland’s Room for the River infrastructure program, it connects the Waal’s northern bank to a small island that’s part of a public park. NEXT architects, in collaboration with H+N+S Landscape Architects, made a bold choice when designing it: The path curves up and down, and at one point is level with the park’s floodplains. When the river resides at normal levels, pedestrians can walk the bridge in its entirety. Only when water levels rise is the reasoning behind the unusual shape revealed. The flooded path leaves behind a series of raised concrete blocks sticking out of the water, and to keep moving, people must hop from one block to the next.

The bridge opened in 2016, but it made news again this January when Nijmegen saw its highest water levels in 15 years. As the river rose, the Zalige bridge could be reached only by using the stepping stones. Residents flocked to the site for a closer look at the water, ignoring instructions from authorities to avoid the park as flooding continued. Eventually the water became so high that even the blocks were completely submerged, but not before demonstrating the bridge’s innovative approach to an old problem.

NEXT writes on the project webpage, "As a crest above the river, the bridge emphasizes the dynamic character of water by letting people see and experience the changing river landscape."

People biking on path.

People walking on bridge.

People walking on path.

People walking on path.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images: © NEXT architects

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Interactive Chart Tells You How Long It Takes to Get Frostbite
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iStock

For many people, winter means dry skin and high heating bills. But if you find yourself outdoors in the right conditions, it can also mean frostbite. Frostbite occurs when the skin and the tissue beneath it freezes, causing pain, loss of sensation, or worse. It's easier to contract than you may think, even if you don't live in the Siberian tundra. To see if frostbite poses a threat where you live, check out this chart spotted by Digg.

The chart, developed by Pooja Gandhi and Adam Crahen using National Weather Service data, looks at three factors: wind speed, air temperature, and time spent outdoors. You can hover your cursor over data-points on the table to see how long you'd need to be exposed to certain wind chills for your skin tissue to freeze. If the wind chill is -22°F, for example (10°F air temperature with 5 mph winds), it would take 31 minutes of being outside before frostbite sets in. You can also look at the time scale above the chart to calculate it a different way. If you bring your cursor to the 40-minute mark, a window will tell that frostbite becomes a risk after exposure to -17°F wind chill for that amount of time. You can play with the interactive table at Tableau Public.

Chart of cold weather conditions.
Adam Crahen, Pooja Gandhi

If you can't avoid being outside in extreme wind and cold, there are a few steps you can take to keep your skin protected. Wear lots of layers, including multiple socks, and wrap your face with a scarf or face mask before venturing into the cold. Also, remember to stay hydrated. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, drinking at least one glass of water before going outside decreases your risk of contracting frostbite.

[h/t Digg]

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