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.

What is El Niño - Southern Oscillation?

What is El Niño? 

The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a large-scale climatic phenomenon that originates in the tropical Pacific but affects global climate patterns. The warm phase is known as El Niño and the cold phase is La Niña. El Niño occurs irregularly every two to seven years and peaks around in winter. 

What causes an El Niño event?

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.

Global Atmospheric Circulation

The sun’s energy does not fall evenly onto our spherical planet: some parts of the earth (b on image 1) are pointing directly at the sun, therefore the sun’s energy has less distance to travel to reach the surface and is focused over a small surface area; whereas other parts (a on image 1) point away from the sun, therefore the same amount of sunlight has further to travel (which allows more solar energy to be deflected back into space by particles in the atmosphere) and is spread over a larger region. The amount of solar energy an area gets over a period of time is known as insolation.

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.