Science Lesson

Weather and energy trading

It is no secret that the weather and energy consumption have always been intrinsically linked.  The basic theories of supply and demand drive a lot of the relationship – if the weather is very cold we will demand more power and knowing what the weather might do months, seasons or even years ahead will help shape predictions on how much power we need to generate. But weather is just one factor that effects our power requirements and prices, and until recently, other core factors like UK politics, geopolitical events, the economy, etc.

Have you seen the climate spiral?

Photo: The picture is actually an animation, showing global temperature change since 1850.SourceEd Hawkins, ClimateLabBook


Climate scientist, Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading has produced a revolutionary way to illustrate global warming over the past 160 years. Ed's graphic's has been retweeted more than 15,000 times, and now Jay Alder, from the USGS has stretched the the spiral out to model data out to 2100.

Nacreous clouds

Image: Nacreous clouds over Aberdeen on 29th January  
Credit: Stephane Gentile, Associate Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society

Several rare sightings of nacreous clouds have been reported over the last few days, delighting cloudspotters, with photographs of the clouds coming from England and Scotland.

Dark Lightning

This 'dark opponent' discharges from storm clouds and flings antimatter into space. Astrophysicists and meteorologists are now trying to understand what they have termed ‘dark lightning’. 

Lightning occurs due to charge separation in a cloud. When negatively charged electrons build up at the base of a thundercloud, anything it passes over becomes   positively charged. If the cloud passes over a tall object, like a tall building or tree, these electrons jump, creating the ‘pitchfork’ of light you see streaking across the sky.

Catatumbo ‘Everlasting’ Lightning

It occurs over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo in Venuzuela, South America. Each year, over 1.2 million bolts of lightning are confined to the mouth of the Catatumbo River - the single highest concentration of lightning in the world.

The Catatumbo lightning, whilst not rare or unusual, is a  remarkable feature in that it persists in the same place night after night. Indeed, the reliability of the storms means that they have historically been used as a maritime navigational aid.