Every year, thousands of scientists come to Antarctica for research. For a dozen days in January, in the middle of the chilly Antarctic summer, the Associated Press, including photographer Natacha Pisarenko, followed scientists from different fields searching for alien-like creatures, hints of pollution trapped in pristine ancient ice, leftovers from the Big Bang, biological quirks that potentially could lead to better medical treatments, and perhaps most of all, signs of unstoppable melting. [ 16 photos total ]

​This week we have images of Beluga whales in Vladivostok, speleotherapy deep below Belarus, the Maha Shivaratri festival in India, the Chinese Lunar New Year, a partially-frozen Niagara Falls, a "Wearable Tomato" robot in Japan, and much more. [ 35 photos total ]

Aoshima Island is one of about a dozen "cat islands" around Japan, small places where there are significantly more feline residents than people. In Aoshima more than a hundred cats prowl the island, curling up in abandoned houses or strutting about in the quiet fishing village. Cats outnumber humans six to one on the island. Recently becoming popular online, tiny Aoshima has seen a steep rise in tourist visits, overwhelming the handful of permanent residents. [ 24 photos total ]

The Chinese Lunar New Year began Feb. 19 ushering in the Year of the Sheep, according to the Chinese zodiac. The new year also marks the beginning of the Spring Festival in China, which continues until the Lantern Festival on the 15th day. [ 35 photos total ]

Based in Russia's Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Reuters photographer Ilya Naymushin captures scenes from around the region, portraying everyday life as Russians work, play, and survive in a place infamous for its harsh winters. This collection of photos from the past winter shows some of the ways people are coping, including vehicles modified for the winter, hand-built ice-fishing huts, ice sculptures, traditional festivals, sporting events, and more. [ 25 photos total ]

In the past month, a series of snowstorms and Arctic weather fronts have brought bone-chilling temperatures and record-setting snowfall levels to the Northeastern United States. New England has been especially hard-hit, with parts of Massachusetts and Maine recording more than 100 inches of snow this season—90.2 inches falling in Boston in just the past 30 days. As residents continually dig out, they've run out of places to pile the snow, in some places pushing it into the ocean. [ 30 photos total ]

In some zoos in Japan and China, staff members perform regular security drills to practice their response to a large animal escape by using costumed zookeepers as the fugitive animals. Individuals in furry costumes or pairs in full-size mockups of larger animals run through zoo property, sometimes inflicting mock injuries, as fellow zookeepers work to surround, subdue, and recapture them. [ 22 photos total ]

Carnival season 2015 is underway across Europe and the Americas. These pre-Lent festivals, often a blend of local pagan and catholic traditions, usher out the winter and welcome in spring. The largest and most famous—the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—took place this weekend.  Gathered here are images of carnivals around the world, including images from Spain, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, France, and more. [ 40 photos total ]

Thousands of Korean children dream of becoming household names like rapper Psy, whose 2012 “Gangnam Style” video was a global YouTube hit, often putting up with punishing schedules in the hope of one day making it big in the music industry. A recent survey of pre-teens showed that 21 percent of respondents wanted to be K-pop (Korean pop) stars when they grow up, the most popular career choice. [ 15 photos total ]

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