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Our Daily Planet: Golden Snowball Award and Christmas Bird Count

Each weekday morning, OurAmazingPlanet takes the pulse of the Earth, reporting on natural phenomena and exploration news from around the globe.

Golden Snowball: The race is on for the Golden Snowball Award, given to the upstate New York city with the most snowfall in a season, with Syracuse in the lead so far with about 70 inches [178 centimeters] of snow.

Solar Parks: The Obama administration has proposed using public lands in six western states for utility-scale solar farms.

Big Bird Count: The National Audubon Society's annual Christmas bird count is underway. The volunteer event runs until Jan. 5. [Related: Birders Rejoice: Library Puts Avian Calls, Photos and Maps Online. ]

Illegal Timber: The Australian government is cracking down on illegal timber exports. [Related: Illegal Logging Down, New Report Reveals .]

Adventurer Awards: National Geographic has named its nominees for 2010 Adventurer of the Year. Meet them and cast your vote. [Related: 9-Year-Old to Summit Everest, Illegally .]

So Long, Suburbs: Maps released this week highlight the consequences of climate change for one Australian suburb. One-in-100 year floods could become annual events there, the maps suggest.

Previously on Our Daily Planet: Freezing Weather and #AGU10

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.