Research News

The latest scientific research and publications news.

Drizzle riddle solved

A recent study by NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and University of Toronto indicates that updrafts are more important than previously thought in determining whether clouds produce drizzle rather than normal-sized raindrops. Such findings will help improve the accuracy of model predictions of rainfall, a challenge for both short-term weather forecasting and longer-term climate projections.

Extreme storms triple in Sahel due to Global Warming

Over the past 35 years extreme storms in the Sahel have tripled and it’s down to global warming, according to research conducted by NERC scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. In such storms, clouds can grow to heights of 16 km and can produce substantial volumes of rainfall. Indeed, in 2009 one downpour deposited 263 mm of rainfall in several hours and forced 150,000 residents of Burkina Faso to leave their homes.

'Ice lollies' found in UK clouds

Clouds aren’t typically associated with ice lollies, but rather sunshine – until now. Researchers from Manchester University have found ice lolly-shaped icicles in cloud systems over the UK and the North Atlantic.

The ice formations – which are the shape of a stick attached to a large spherical head – were found in large concentrations during a research flight over the northeast Atlantic Ocean in 2016, and previously in southwest UK in 2009.

Study explains science behind newly recognised cloud: asperitas

Clouds have always been a feature of paintings and photographs, but images captured by amateur photographers confirmed the existence of a dramatic cloud form with a roughened, wave-like base. Citizen science has now helped experts to explain how the newly-recognised ‘wave-like’ asperitas cloud is formed.  

Sunlight reduces risk of arthritis

Regular exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B (UV-B), may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. These were the findings from a long-term study of more than 200,000 women, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The report speculated that vitamin D, which the body produces when exposed to sunlight, might protect women from arthritis.

All hands on deck: Climate project opens naval logbooks

Budding weather detectives are being offered the chance to sharpen their skills by taking part in a public project designed to help scientists understand the climate of the past. Visitors to the website OldWeather.org, set up by a number of collaborators including the Met Office and Oxford University, are being invited to trawl through old naval logbooks and input weather observations taken by Royal Navy ships. Volunteers will be asked to transcribe information from the digital copies of the logbooks, making notes of any weather observations.