New Arctic Sea ice low

Posted on: March 26, 2015

As a winter risk management company we would usually be delighted at reducing levels of ice, but this week it has been announced that the levels of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean are at their lowest levels since satellite monitoring began in 1979. The Arctic sea ice follows an annual cycle - freezing during the winter months and melting during the spring and summer. It is usually around this time of year that the ‘winter maximum’ is reached.

The winter maximum is the point in the year when the build-up of ice levels in the Arctic Ocean reaches its peak. Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado shows that the maximum this winter was 14.5 million square kilometres, reached on the 25th February 2015. This figure beats the previous worst, recorded in 2011, by 1%.

Scientists have been aware of a reduction in Arctic sea ice for decades, but this new low brings the possibility of an ice-free Arctic a step closer.

Reduction in Winter Maximum

  • 1980: 16.5 million sq. km
  • 1990:

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Solar eclipse and the weather

Posted on: March 19, 2015

Like many of you, we are all eagerly looking forward to the solar eclipse on Friday. As a company that always has one eye on the goings on above our heads, it promises to be one of the most fascinating days for many years. In addition to the eclipse we will also see the coming together of two other celestial phenomenon - the spring equinox and a supermoon.

The last significant eclipse of the sun in the UK was on 11th August 1999, when people in Cornwall experienced a “total” eclipse of the sun. This week's event will range from 85% coverage of the sun in southern England, to 98% in the far north of Scotland. We will not see another total eclipse of the sun in the UK until September 2090.

Solar Eclipse Superstitions

  • People living in Vietnam used to believe that a giant frog was devouring the sun, while in ancient China it was believed to be a hungry celestial dragon.
  • The ancient Greeks believed that a solar eclipse was a sign that the gods were angry and that disasters and destruction would follow.
  • In some parts of India, some peop

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How the Foehn Effect works

Posted on: March 11, 2015

Hopefully you all managed to find some time to enjoy the glorious early-spring weather we experienced over the weekend. In our blog last week we questioned whether spring had sprung and it is safe to say that Mother Nature gave us a definitive answer over the weekend. In fact the weather was so nice that Murlough in County Down experienced the warmest day of the year so far on Saturday, with temperatures reaching 17.5°C.

So given we are only a week into meteorological spring, what was the cause of these unseasonably warm temperatures? Forecasters reported the above average temperatures were bolstered by the “Foehn Effect”. In the UK our landmass, mountain ranges and close proximity to the sea mean this phenomenon is particularly common; especially across the Highlands of Scotland, the Pennines and the Welsh mountains.

How the Foehn Effect Influences Our Weather

  1. Moist air running perpendicular to a mountain range rises as it comes into contact with high ground.
  2. As the air rises it cools at a rate of 0.5°C for every 100 metres it rise
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When is the real spring sprung?

Posted on: March 6, 2015

The birds are singing, the days are getting longer and bluebells are scattered across woodland scenes everywhere. This can mean only one thing - spring has sprung…or has it?

The beginning of the season varies depending on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological spring. In most instances the beginning of spring is determined by the astronomical day in our calendars that marks this date. However the Met Office, from whom we receive our forecasting data, uses the meteorological definition. So what is the difference?

Spring Records

  • Wettest: 331.7mm of rain in 1947
  • Driest: 119.8mm of rain in 1974
  • Warmest: An average temperature of 9.2°C in 2011
  • Coldest: An average temperature of 5.8°C in 1962
  • Sunniest: 557.5 hours in 1948 - that's almost 6 hours of sunshine a day!

Meteorological Spring:

Meteorological spring runs from 1st March to 31st May every year, meaning that spring actually began

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