Science Lesson

Svalbard’s Sea Ice, where is it now? by Dr Michelle McCrystall

While a PhD student at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and University of Cambridge, BAS and the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) provided funds for a training course for a number of early career researchers to learn about fieldwork management skills. This training course provided the opportunity for a number of UK based PhD and PostDoctoral scientists to go to the Arctic to learn important fieldwork skills and to apply these to a number of projects which required fieldwork around Ny-Alesund, Svalbard.

Science Lesson: An introduction to remote sensing

Satellites for observing the Earth’s surface have been used since the 70’s and ever since advanced our understanding in science. Using satellites allows us to observe and detect changes in the most remote regions of the Earth. The first land cover satellite named Landsat 1 was launched by the United States on 23 July 1972. This mission and many more have continued providing an enormous collection of satellite imagery.

Types of Lightning

A beautiful and deadly natural phenomenon, lightning is simply a sudden, electrostatic discharge - a ‘spark’ or  ‘flash’ as charged regions in the atmosphere temporarily equalise themselves through this discharge. It is the polarity of lightning discharge that can affect the way it spreads and branches in space and time.

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.

El Niño

The name El Niño, Spanish for ‘child’or ‘the Christ child’, was first used by fishermen along the coasts of Ecuador and Peru to refer to a warm ocean current that typically appears around Christmastime and lasts for several months. Fish are less abundant during these warm intervals, so fishermen often took a break to repair their equipment and spend time with their families.

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

Generalised model of thermohaline circulation, adapted from NASA.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is a system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf Stream that circulates a vast amount of heat from the tropics towards the North Pole disseminating the cold, saline, dense waters towards the Tropics and even further south towards the South Pole. The figure above captures that in a generalised worldwide model of thermohaline (thermo- referring to temperature and –haline referring to salt content) circulation.