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Modeling what would happen to the UK if the Gulf Stream shuts down

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The warm waters of the gulf stream as they pass the US East Coast.

Enlarge / The warm waters of the gulf stream as they pass the US East Coast. (credit: NASA)

While we track climate change as a gradual rise in temperatures, most of its effects are going to be anything but gradual: an increased risk of extreme temperatures and storms, extended droughts, expanded fire seasons, and so on. There's also the risk of pushing the climate past some tipping points, which can change the state of entire areas of the globe. But it can be difficult to understand the impact of tipping points, given that they're occurring against a backdrop of all those other climate changes.

For example, one of the major potential tipping points we're aware of is the shutdown of the North Atlantic's current system, which brings warm water north, moderating the climate of Europe. The loss of this warm water would obviously result in a cool down in Northern Europe. But calculations indicate that the shutdown isn't likely to take place until after the planet had warmed enough to offset this cooling.

But temperatures aren't the only thing affected by some of the tipping points we've looked at. And a new study manages to separate out the effect of shutting down the gulf stream from the general impact of a warming climate. And it finds that, for the UK, changes in precipitation may have a larger impact than changes in temperature.

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2019 was likely Earth’s second-hottest year on record

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Temperature above or below the 1950-1981 average, in kelvins (equivalent to degrees C).

Enlarge / Temperature above or below the 1950-1981 average, in kelvins (equivalent to degrees C). (credit: NASA)

It’s mid-January, which means the jokes about New Year’s resolutions are hopefully fading out along with your seasonal depression. Oh, and NOAA’s and NASA’s final 2019 global temperature analyses have dropped. (No need to get the party hats and noisemakers back out.)

Let’s start with the numbers. Last year comes in as the second warmest on record in almost every dataset. The UK Met Office dataset has it in third place, as does one satellite dataset (though it is a bit out of step with other satellite records). Satellite datasets measure temperatures higher in the atmosphere rather than surface temperatures, so small differences are not uncommon. Surface temperature datasets generally go back to the late 1800s, while satellite datasets begin in 1979.

(credit: NASA)

The biggest piece of context you need to understand these annual updates is the El Niño Southern Oscillation—a see-saw of Pacific Ocean temperatures that pushes the global average a little above or below the long-term trend each year. In an El Niño pattern, warm water from the western equatorial Pacific drifts toward South America. In a La Niña pattern, strong winds hold that warm water back, pulling up deep, cold water along South America. Years in which El Niño dominates tend to have a higher global average surface temperature, while La Niña years are a little cooler.

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Google gives Chrome OS Apps a shutdown date

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The "App" section of the Chrome Web Store.

Enlarge / The "App" section of the Chrome Web Store. (credit: Google Chrome)

Chrome's Packaged Apps have been a dead platform for a while now, after a 2016 announcement that the "App" section of Chrome's Web store would be pulled from Windows, Mac, and Linux, leaving Chrome OS as the only supported OS. Today, Google announced that the last supported platform, Chrome OS, is losing access to Chrome apps, too, along with dates to strip the app feature out of Chrome's code base. Google writes it "will begin phasing out support for Chrome Apps across all operating systems as follows:"

  • March 2020: Chrome Web Store will stop accepting new Chrome Apps. Developers will be able to update existing Chrome Apps through June 2022.
  • June 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through December 2020.
  • December 2020: End support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • June 2021: End support for NaCl, PNaCl, and PPAPI APIs.
  • June 2021: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS. Customers who have Chrome Enterprise and Chrome Education Upgrade will have access to a policy to extend support through June 2022.
  • June 2022: End support for Chrome Apps on Chrome OS for all customers.

Most Windows, Mac, and Linux users haven't been able to use Chrome packaged apps for years now, as the Web store was shut down for them in 2017. Users on those OSes shouldn't notice a thing, unless they were sideloading packaged apps or getting them though an enterprise management feature. Chrome OS is the real news here, and it will continue to cling to the feature until June 2022.

Chrome OS supports a number of platforms that get presented in the "app" style, so keep in mind only the "Chrome Packaged Apps" are going away. Chrome OS will still keep its app-like shortcuts to websites, along with support for "Progressive Web Apps (PWA)"—Web APIs that support app-style features like push notifications and offline functionality. There's still going to be support for Android apps, which bring the nearly 3 million apps in the Play Store to Chrome OS. Google also points out that "This change does not impact support for Chrome Extensions" and that "Fostering a robust ecosystem of extensions is critical to Chrome's mission, and we are committed to providing a useful extension platform for customizing the browsing experience for all users."

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Researcher develops working exploit for critical Windows 10 vulnerability

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Chrome on Windows 10 as it Rickrolls the NSA.

Enlarge / Chrome on Windows 10 as it Rickrolls the NSA. (credit: https://twitter.com/saleemrash1d/status/1217519809732259840/photo/1)

Less than a day after Microsoft disclosed one of the most critical Windows vulnerabilities ever, a security researcher has demonstrated how attackers can exploit it to cryptographically impersonate any website or server on the Internet.

Researcher Saleem Rashid on Wednesday tweeted images of the video "Never Gonna Give You Up," by 1980s heartthrob Rick Astley, playing on Github.com and NSA.gov. The digital sleight of hand is known as Rickrolling and is often used as a humorous and benign way to demonstrate serious security flaws. In this case, Rashid's exploit causes both the Edge and Chrome browsers to spoof the HTTPS verified websites of Github and the National Security Agency. Brave and other Chrome derivatives, as well as Internet Explorer, are also likely to fall to the same trick. (There's no indication Firefox is affected.)

Rashid's simulated attack exploits CVE-2020-0601, the critical vulnerability that Microsoft patched on Tuesday after receiving a private tipoff from the NSA. As Ars reported, the flaw can completely break certificate validation for websites, software updates, VPNs, and other security-critical computer uses. It affects Windows 10 systems, including server versions Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. Other versions of Windows are unaffected.

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Aston Martin reportedly scraps plans for its all-electric Rapide E

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For years, Aston Martin has been promising an all-electric Rapide E. After one false start, the automaker said it would begin making the EV in 2019. Now, a source close to the firm tells Autocar that the Rapide E will not go into production. Instead, it will become a research project.

Aston Martin originally planned to manufacture 155 Rapide Es. It did not publicly disclose the price, and we don't know how many orders were placed or how the company will handle refunds. It's unclear, too, how exactly Aston Martin plans to use the Rapide E for research. An Aston Martin spokesperson declined to "comment on future product speculation."

According to Autocar, Aston Martin is focusing on the launch of its DBX SUV, which is set to arrive in the second quarter of 2020. The company is also struggling financially. CEO Andy Palmer called 2019 a "very disappointing year," as shares fell to an all-time low.

Previously, Aston Martin said the Rapide E would have the equivalent output of 604 HP, a top seed of 155 MPH and 200-mile-plus range. It would pack a 800V battery system, compatible with DC fast chargers, and twin electric motors. There were even rumors that it might appear in the next James Bond movie. That seems a bit less likely now.

Via: Autoblog

Source: Autocar

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Uber is leaving Colombia after court ruling

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Uber has once again been kicked out of an entire country. The ridesharing firm is shutting down operations in Colombia on February 1st after a December court ruling that it violated transportation laws. It intends to appeal the ruling, which it called "arbitrary" and a violation of a free trade deal that protects American companies' subsidiaries. For now, though, this will leave about 88,000 drivers (and 2 million customers) resorting to alternatives.

A lawsuit had accused Uber of breaking the law by steering customers away from taxis and offering public transportation without a license.

This isn't the first time Uber has been given the boot. A German court recently ruled against Uber, and Italy temporarily banned the company in 2017. However, it appears to be the first time Uber has been forced out of an entire country in the Americas. It also comes under questionable circumstances. Taxi driver unions had lobbied the Colombian government in a bid to thwart ridesharing apps in return for promising to stay out of anti-government protests.

Whatever the circumstances, Uber's departure could have mixed consequences. While it'll reassure taxi drivers worried they were being squeezed out (though they still have to compete with options like Didi), it could leave thousands of Uber drivers out of work. Unlike the US and some other countries, driving Uber full-time can pay relatively well -- this could represent a significant blow for some workers.

Source: Reuters, Washington Post

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