Tag Archive: climate

Book Review: Runners by Sharon Sant

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Runners Publisher: Immanion Summary: An engrossing, and thought-provoking read. Set in the wreck of a future dystopian England, Runners begins with teenage Elijah and a band of other tearaways (or Runners) struggling to get by in the ruins of an old house. The group dynamic, with its varied mix of personalities and ages, is fascinating from the off and the snippets of information concerning how the novel’s world came to be such a mess are intriguing to say the least. Of course, the group’s situation quickly becomes about more than merely feeding themselves as Elijah and his friends find themselves stuck in a dismal situation engineered in no small part by the sinister Mr Braithwaite. On top of this, a chance discovery in a mysterious woodland catapults them right into the heart of an even bigger menace; a superb representation of a theorized quantum phenomenon, and, by the end of the book, the numerous plot threads really do intertwine beautifully. …

Unseasonable weather?

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Across the world we’ve had plenty of “unseasonable weather” over the last few weeks and records are being broken globally. But what is the likelihood of these strange weather patterns becoming regular occurrences and no longer “unseasonable”? In the UK, it’s clear that the weather has changed. It’s nearly 7 years since we last had the stereotypical British summer filled with hot sunshine, and the winter months appear to be becoming colder and more unsettled. For example, gritting drivers across the UK had to deal with twice as many “marginal” nights than a normal winter from October 2012 to April 2013. Met Office officials met recently and believe there is a change occurring over the Atlantic and this is causing this strange weather in the UK. This change has been associated with climate change and the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but is that all it’s down to? In America, tornado season is currently in full swing as …

Why hasn’t spring sprung yet?

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After a weekend of heavy snow across much of the UK, everyone is asking, ‘is there going to be much let up from the cold?’ Well, at the moment it’s unlikely. The UK has been experiencing it’s coldest March since 1969 and is close to becoming the coldest month of the year so far (Philip Eden, 2013), a big comparison to last year when March was the 3rd warmest on record! Across much of Europe temperatures are at least 5 degrees below the seasonal average and across parts of Eastern Europe and western Russia, temperatures are up to 14 degrees below the norm. So what is going on? There are a couple of reasons for this unseasonably cold March we have been experiencing and what is likely to be an unseasonably cold start to April too, but they are all interlinked. The jet stream is in the wrong position. Normally during spring, the jet stream begins to push northwards across the UK so that we are positioned south of …

Heatwave turns Australia purple

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Over the past week many parts of Australia have been influenced by unseasonably high temperatures. Although it is the peak of summer, temperatures have continued to soar above average. So high in fact that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM)  has had to add extra colours to their temperature scale in their colour map. These high temperatures have been caused by a ridge of high pressure developing across the country bringing dry and settled conditions. In addition to this, the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) pattern is beginning to turn more towards La Nina bringing warmer sea temperatures to the area. ENSO is a climatic pattern that occurs in the tropical Pacific Ocean and alters the temperatures of the water. La Nina is known as the cool phase as the cool water in the eastern Pacific intensifies and the trade winds intensify  but these means that warmer seas are more likely around eastern Australia.  Tuesday (Monday night in the UK) has been the hottest …

Extreme cold in China

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With temperatures having recently plummeted across most of China, meteorologist Sally Webb explains exactly what’s going on, and outlines some of the crippling consequences for those affected. Temperatures across much of Asia are below average at the moment, but especially so in China. Generally, temperatures are about 5°C below average, but over higher ground they’re dropping to roughly 15°C below what’s expected for this time of year. Bar the south-east coast, most regions have experienced maximum temperatures in the minus numbers and Bayanbulak, a site on top of the Tianshan mountains, had a maximum temperature of a devastatingly low -31.4°C. Even in more populated areas temperatures have struggled to rise over 5°C during the day, and have dropped well below freezing overnight. Off China’s east coast, the Laizhou Bay froze when sea surface temperatures descended below 1°C and local media has reported that over 1,000 ships are trapped in the ice. In addition to this, one hundred commercial flights have been cancelled in the …

Quiz 4 – Physical Environment

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It’s that time again – it’s Unpopular Science’s fourth science quiz. This week the theme is the physical environment. For those that don’t know, after 5 weeks, whoever has the highest cumulative score will win a copy of  Tiger Wars by Steve Backshall*.  If you want your score to be tracked, add your name and email. If you just want a bit of fun, don’t worry. You can start the quiz by simply clicking Next. To see the leaders, see our leaderboard. You can still join in, by doing our first quiz here, our second here and our third quiz here.   * In the event of a tie, names will be drawn at random and the Editor’s decision is always final. One entry per person. Also, good luck!

Climate change making a mocha-ry of wild coffee populations

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If you’re planning on having a cup of coffee in 68 years time, then you might want to think again. Research published in Plos One suggests that by 2080, wild populations of the world’s most popular coffee species, Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica), could be extinct due to climate change. Wild populations of Arabica coffee are important to coffee producers because of their genetic diversity and could be used to develop new strains of coffee in the future. Wild Arabica populations show a range of disease, pest and drought tolerance, all of which have potential advantages in a changing climate. If the wild population of Arabica coffee were to go extinct, coffee producers would struggle to breed coffee that could survive in new conditions. Scientists from the UK and Ethiopia used current data on wild Arabica populations and the climate in those locations to model how the climate might affect the distribution of Arabica suitable sites in the future. Once the …

Flooding in the UK

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Over the past week, heavy rain has lead to flooding across many parts of the UK causing millions of pounds worth of damage to homes and businesses, even taking a couple of lives. The most significantly affected area has been south-west England, closely followed by the Midlands, north-east England and Wales. With this in mind, we asked Sally Webb, our resident meteorologist, to walk us through exactly why this is happening? WHY IS IT SO BAD? The recent flooding is due to a succession of deep pressure systems moving across the UK. Each one has had a large frontal system associated with it and often a wrap-around occlusion (where a cold front catches up with a warm front) that becomes slow-moving. The depth of the system leads to the strong winds that have also battered many areas, knocking down trees and causing damage to buildings. Although the weather is not so unusual for autumn, it is unfortunate than the systems all seem …

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