News

Arctic Sea ice

Posted on: July 29, 2015

For many years we have been told of the impact climate change is having on our planet. A shrinking Arctic ice cap is one of the most commonly used pieces of evidence when demonstrating this. However recent analysis has shown, much to the surprise of experts, that the ice cap actually bucked the long-term trend of decline during 2013.

Since satellites began studying the region in the late 1970s, the ice covering in the Arctic has shrunk by 40%. By launching its ‘Cryosat’ satellite in 2010, the European Space Agency has been able to able to better understand the shrinking of the sea ice. Where previously scientists were only able to judge the impact of climate change by the area of ice remaining, now they also receive comprehensive data about how thick the ice is as well.

The satellite's 88 million measurements have been analysed by the Nature Geoscience journal and show that:

  • Between 2010 and 2012, the Arctic ice volume fell by 14% - in line with the warming of the climate over recent decades.
  • In 2013 the ice volume jumped up by 41%.
  • In 2014 th

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Icy world on Pluto

Posted on: July 17, 2015

In 2006, to the disappointment of many, Pluto lost its status as the ninth planet in our solar system. On Tuesday however, the distant world which is approximately 7.6 billion kilometres from Earth, was thrust back into the media spotlight as NASA's ‘New Horizons’ spacecraft completed a breath-taking flyby on its way to the Kuiper Belt.

It is the first time that a spacecraft has visited the dwarf planet and the images that New Horizon has already managed to transmit back to Earth have offered a fascinating insight into what was previously a relatively unknown icy body of our solar system.

Pluto Facts:

  • Pluto was discovered on the 18th February 1930 by Clyde W. Tombaugh.
  • It takes 246 years for Pluto to complete one orbit of the sun.
  • Pluto is smaller than our own moon.
  • The New Horizons spacecraft is approximately the size of a grand piano.

With data taking approximately 4.5 hours to travel back to Earth from the spacecraft, NASA are only just beginning to receive the first tantalising pieces of data that New Hori

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Colder winters on the way

Posted on: July 9, 2015

It may be hard to believe that, having just experienced the hottest July day on record, the sun could be somewhat weakening. However, that is exactly what the experts at the Met Office are predicting. Their research shows that we could be seeing a return to low solar activity - known as a ‘grand solar minimum’ - potentially at levels not seen for hundreds of years.

A grand solar minimum occurs as part of a cycle that lasts every 100-200 years. During the cycle it is understood that the sun's output increases and decreases, as measured by the number of sunspots on the star's surface. Scientists believe that we are now entering the lower end of this cycle, with solar activity at levels not seen since the ‘Maunder Minimum’ some 300 years ago.

The Maunder Minimum, also commonly known as the ‘prolonged sunspot minimum‘, is the name given to the period between 1645 and 1715. During this period of time solar observers noted that sunspots had become exceedingly rare. This reduction in solar activity coincided with a period of lower-than-

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Harsh winter = hot summer?

Posted on: July 2, 2015

Here in Britain, we are all too familiar with extreme temperatures bringing the country to its knees. From a few flakes of snow bringing our road network to a standstill, to hot temperatures melting the very pavements we walk on, we do seem to struggle when the thermometer hits extremities at either end of the scale.

And yesterday was no different. With hot air being fed to us from the continent, temperatures soared to leave us with the hottest July day on record. Up and down the country records tumbled and, whilst they are not expected to reach such dizzying heights today, here at our offices in Saxmundham we are still expecting temperatures in the mid to high twenties today.

Record Breaking Day

With London baking in temperatures higher than those experienced in Mediterranean hotspots such as Rome and Athens, we saw:

  • Temperatures reaching 36.7°C at Heathrow Airport. This beat the previous record of 36.5°C, which had stood since 2006.

  • Players at Wimbledon were forced to endure temperatures of 35.7°C, topping the previous record of 34.6

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