UK climatologists seek bubble blowers, cloud watchers

March 2, 2011
A man walks across Parliament Square in central London in 2009. Meteorologists launched a new campaign Wednesday to get people in England involved in measuring climate change by using a mirror, soap bubbles or simply looking up at the sky.

Meteorologists launched a new campaign Wednesday to get people in England involved in measuring climate change by using a mirror, soap bubbles or simply looking up at the sky.

The Met Office is asking people to complete a series of simple activities to check the results of climatic computer models.

They include measuring wind speed by blowing bubbles into the air to monitoring the direction of clouds with the aid of a mirror.

Participants are being asked to spot plane vapour trails to measure and humidity, and to record how cold or hot they feel.

"They're all aspects that are actually quite difficult for us to analyse or measure with our standard monitoring network and so it's all about capturing new data that can complement our existing observation and tell us a little more," Met Office climate scientist Mark McCarthy told AFP.

"Contrails (vapour trails), for example -- we want to look at how well weather and are able to predict where contrails do or don't form and whether they do or don't spread out and form clouds."

When planes fly, the burning of the fuel creates water vapour which mixes with the very cold air at high altitudes and condenses. The air is so cold that ice crystals are formed, leaving behind condensation trails -- contrails.

The trails stop heat from leaving Earth and contribute to global warming. But while computers can predict where they should form due to temperature and humidity, the only real way to check is to look at the sky.

Another activity under the OPAL Climate Survey includes asking people to write down if they are hot or cold to help scientists understand how sensitive individuals are to .

The Met Office expects a strong response from the survey, one of several launched in recent years involving the public on environmental issues, and has already distributed 40,000 activity packs to schools and other organisations.

Explore further: Climate Is Regulated By Water

Related Stories

Climate Is Regulated By Water

August 1, 2005

About one hundred years ago, S. Arrhenius brought forward a hypothesis that the atmospheric temperature of at the surface of the Earth was increasing under the influence of the glasshouse effect created by carbonic acid gas. ...

Cloud formation affected by human activity, study says

September 12, 2006

University of Toronto researchers and their collaborators have discovered that solid ammonium sulphate aerosol – an airborne particle more prevalent in continental areas - can act as a catalyst to the formation of ice clouds, ...

The insides of clouds may be the key to climate change

February 17, 2007

As climate change scientists develop ever more sophisticated climate models to project an expected path of temperature change, it is becoming increasingly important to include the effects of aerosols on clouds, according ...

Ice cores map dynamics of sudden climate changes

June 19, 2008

New, extremely detailed data from investigations of ice cores from Greenland show that the climate shifted very suddenly and changed fundamentally during quite few years when the ice age ended. Researchers from the Niels ...

Recommended for you

Ice sheets may be more resilient than thought

September 3, 2015

Sea level rise poses one of the biggest threats to human systems in a globally warming world, potentially causing trillions of dollars' worth of damages to flooded cities around the world. As surface temperatures rise, ice ...

Clues from ancient Maya reveal lasting impact on environment

September 3, 2015

Evidence from the tropical lowlands of Central America reveals how Maya activity more than 2,000 years ago not only contributed to the decline of their environment but continues to influence today's environmental conditions, ...

Climate ups odds of 'grey swan' superstorms

August 31, 2015

Climate change will boost the odds up to 14-fold for extremely rare, hard-to-predict tropical cyclones for parts of Australia, the United States and Dubai by 2100, researchers said Monday.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

GSwift7
5 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
asking people to write down if they are hot or cold to help scientists understand how sensitive individuals are to climate change


First, shouldn't it say "how sensitive individuals are to weather"? Second, from my experience with women and temperature sensitivity, I hope they ask the survey respondents a few simple questions like: Gender, age, pregnant?, PMS'ing?, mood, hungry, is it thursday?, did you sleep well?, are you wearing a coat and hat?, did you just work out?, etc...

I'm sitting here in my office (women control the thermostat here) where the temperature has gone from 60 to 80 and back to 60 twice today, and half the women have a space heater under the desk. For women, the perceived temperature usually has very little to do with whether it is warm or not. Sorry if that sounds cheauvanistic, but women do not have good thermometers in their brains.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.