Launching a weather balloon at the University of Reading

Weather forecasts these days are hi-tech: satellites orbiting the Earth continually watch the current weather and feed this information into some of the largest supercomputers in the world. But satellites can’t give us a complete picture of the current weather and, to fill in the gaps, we use a seemingly low-tech solution: helium balloons. Thousands … Continue reading “Launching a weather balloon at the University of Reading”

Early thoughts on winter 2016-17 …

By Chimene Daleu In the UK, colder winter weather is usually caused by high pressure developing to the north, which allows cold arctic or polar continental air masses to push towards the UK. Last year, winter was much milder than average with a mean temperature of 5.5°C, 1.8 degC above the average. This was the … Continue reading “Early thoughts on winter 2016-17 …”

No heatwave in Reading in July 2016 – but two in December 2015!

By Roger Brugge Maybe the title of this piece may seem rather odd – but then ‘what is a heatwave?’ Perhaps surprisingly, in the UK there is no accepted definition for a heatwave. The Met Office tend to use the World Meteorological Organization definition of a heatwave which is “when the daily maximum temperature of … Continue reading “No heatwave in Reading in July 2016 – but two in December 2015!”

Was the weather of June 2016 really that bad?

By Roger Brugge Yes, there were frequent thunderstorms, some localised flooding and a lack of very high temperatures – but then is this really unusual for June in Reading (or southern England)? Or might it just be a matter of ‘rose-tinted glasses’ leading us to expect scorchingly-hot/dry weather in June – and the fact that … Continue reading “Was the weather of June 2016 really that bad?”

GUEST BLOG: Talking sensible science when wondering about the weather

By Georgina Glaser, Voice of Young Science member Talking about science when you’re a PhD student seems like it should be an obvious prerequisite and an easy task. For some people, it is. For others, it is far more difficult. Reasons for this can be the intimidation of other scientists who you believe ‘know more … Continue reading “GUEST BLOG: Talking sensible science when wondering about the weather”

Not yet Christmas, but has spring sprung?

By Roger Brugge This may seem a strange question, but it was prompted by the sight of flowering daffodils alongside the A4 through Maidenhead on 12 December 2015 (Figure 1). Figure 1. Flowering daffodils along the A4 in Maidenhead, on 12 December 2015 In order to bloom, daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs must be exposed … Continue reading “Not yet Christmas, but has spring sprung?”

Recent changes in Africa rainfall

By Richard Allan Changing rainfall can have profound societal consequences across Africa where it plays a crucial role in sustaining livelihoods and economic development. Predicting how rainfall patterns will alter as the planet warms in response to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is therefore of great importance; for this both observations and simulations are vital. A new … Continue reading “Recent changes in Africa rainfall”

An unusually dull, but mild, start to November

By Roger Brugge “Persistent low cloud, spells of fog, minimal amounts of sunshine and night-time temperatures more suited to September.”  Such a description of the weather of the past ten days or so had me reaching for the records to try to place the recent weather conditions into a historical context. Temperature Daytime temperatures of … Continue reading “An unusually dull, but mild, start to November”

Phew! What a scorcher!

By Stephen Burt These were typical newspaper headlines earlier this week. So how did we fare in Reading? We did set one extraordinary record during this short-lived hot spell. We have daily temperature records for the university back to 1908, and as well as maximum and minimum temperatures these include the air temperature observed at … Continue reading “Phew! What a scorcher!”

Complexity of surface temperatures in cities – let’s talk about what we don’t know

By Simone Kotthaus With summer upon us we want to spend more time outdoors. However, as temperatures rise, conditions in cities may become uncomfortable. The urban heat island (UHI) effect, whereby cities are warmer than their surroundings, may exacerbate the higher temperatures. This UHI is amongst the best known phenomena of climate conditions in cities. … Continue reading “Complexity of surface temperatures in cities – let’s talk about what we don’t know”