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Archive for March 2011

weatherbaloon.jpgThe is the second episode in our mini-series for Science Week, which is about how to make good measurements of weather. Meteorologists (that's weathermen to you and me) have to try and do this all the time, to start the forecasts and to check they have worked. We give you our top tips for making decent measurements including:

  • Temperature measurements have to measure the shade air temperature --- don’t accidentally heat the sensor up with your hands, breath, the sun, building heating or anything else hot that isn’t shady air.
  • Same goes for humidity measurement --- don’t breath on them or you’ll measure the humidity in your breath.
  • Wind sensors need to be in an open space, not behind a tree, a building, a budding meteorologist (that’s you btw) or anything that will change the wind.

GOLDEN RULE: make sure you are measuring what you are trying to measure, and not accidentally measuring the temperature of your finger or the moisture in your breath or something. Another thing to consider is how wiggly the thing you are measuring is. Forinstance wind data is wiggly because it gusts so its probably good to make a few measurements at a time and take the average.

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michael-fish.jpgIn this special mini-series of the Barometer Podcast for National Science Week we’ll have a look at what makes a weather forecast good (or bad). How exactly do forecasts work anyway? Forecasts take a load of information about the weather right now, do a load of computer calculations and then try and figure out what the weather will be like in the future. But...sometimes forecasts go bad.In the first mini-episode we talk about what can make or break a weather forecast. What if we wrongly measure the weather today and then use that to start the forecast? What if we misunderstand how the weather works and get some of the calculations wrong? What if something is important but so small that we don’t think about it? Bad forecasts, that’s what.

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elnino.jpgWhat does a bad fishing year off the coast of Chile have to do with weather over the rest of the World? Well, in a way, quite a lot. El Nino and La Nina are the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito of the atmosphere. These notorious weather systems of the Pacific Oceans that have knock on effects for global weather. You can find out some more about El Nino here and here. You can also watch a video of global sea surface temperatures here. You can see the heating and cooling with the seasons but can you also spot El Nino heating the east Pacific and La Nina cooling it? Watch out for El Nino in 1997-98 and La Nina in 1995.

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