Weather Watch

Staying safe in the sun: The whys and wherefores of sun protection

It is easy to think of sunburn as something that doesn't really happen in the UK, but it can and it often does. You don't have to be sunbathing to get sunburnt; it may happen while you are playing sport, walking or even working outdoors. To ensure you have fun in the sun either in the UK or abroad, we have put together a sun factfile to encourage you to enjoy the sun safely through the UK summer.

A newly discovered atmospheric optical phenomenon called… Steve

Image: 'Steve' (Source: ESA - Dave Markel)

If Boaty McBoatface is anything to go by, social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to naming things for science. The most recent example of this is Steve; a recently discovered phenomenon all thanks to the power of social media and citizen scientists – something that wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago. 

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.

Measuring Wind Speed : What is anemometer?

Wind is simply movement of air, but sometimes this movement can be pretty fast! Those of us in the South of England have recent memories of the St Jude’s Day storm on 28 October, and the disruption caused by gusts of up to 99mph. As well as meteorologists, lots of other people are interested in how fast the wind is blowing, ranging from sportsmen such as parachutists and sailors, to those concerned with hazardous winds, such as air traffic controllers and crane operators. But how do we measure its speed?

Winds of Change

Image: Some of the local wind names and their location. 

In many areas of the world, regional conditions give rise to winds that have been identified by the locals as having a special effect or occurring during a particular season. Quite often these winds are given a name by local inhabitants.