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How can we weigh a cloud?

JimCGS air quality expert Dr Jim McQuaid has been filming a BBC two-part documentary Operation Cloud Lab: Secrets of the Skies. The documentary follows a team of scientists as they explore the earth’s atmosphere, travelling in an airship. The expedition begins with an examination of clouds and how we can determine the weight of an average cloud.You might be surprised at the result!

You can watch the first episode on BBC iplayer.



How polluted is the air you’re breathing?


The Atlantic has recently published a global map of air quality. Take a look at the interactive map to find out how the quality of the air you’re breathing compares with other countries and cities.The news isn’t good if you’re in China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The map overlays two sources of data on air pollution: for cities, the World Health Organization’s ambient (outdoor) air pollution in cities database 2014; for countries, ground-level exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are derived from satellite measures used in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index, a biennial global ranking produced by Yale and Columbia researchers that compares countries on high-priority environmental issues.


More information:
[1] See the interactive on the Atlantic website at
[2] Read more about global air quality at
[3] Read more about PM2.5 at
[4] Find out more about the Environmental Performance Index at

Japan hit by Super Typhoon Neoguri

typhoon_neoguriThe violent super typhoon Neoguri is possibly the most powerful typhoon to strike Japan in 15 years. With expected wind gusts of 170 miles per hour and 75 millimetres of rain per hour the typhoon is battering the southern islands of Okinawa this morning.

Neoguri is forecast to continue northwards over land passing over the southern island of Kyushu and onto central Japan slowly losing energy along the way.

Typhoon Neoguri is carrying a huge amount of moisture. When it hits the mainland much of that will be released as rain, which could unleash flash floods and trigger landslides, our correspondent adds. Storm surge wave heights of 12 metres are expected raising fears of further coastal flooding.

Check out one of our earlier posts for a discussion of how these large cyclonic storms form.

Typhoon Neoguri, the first super typhoon of 2014. Source: EPA/NOAA

Typhoon Neoguri, the first super typhoon of 2014. Source: EPA/NOAA


More information:
[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-28189409
[2] http://climateandgeohazards.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/cyclones-hurricanes-and-typhoons-whats-the-difference



Prof. Jane Francis to be awarded an Honorary Degree

Jane_FrancisWe are happy to report that the achievements of Professor Jane Francis are being formally recognised by the University of Leeds through the award of an honorary degree. The pen portrait for Jane can be found below:

Professor Jane Francis (Doctor of Science), until recently Professor of Palaeoclimatology and Dean of the Faculty of Environment, is the director of the British Antarctic Survey. She has participated in numerous polar research expeditions and was awarded the Polar Medal for her contribution to British polar research in 2002. Her most recent research has focused on understanding past climate change during both greenhouse and icehouse periods, particularly in the Polar Regions.

By cgsleeds Posted in People

Twin Tornadoes hit Nebraska, United States

Twin tornadoes are an exceptionally rare weather phenomenon. Two large tornadoes hit the town of Pilger in the U.S. state of Nebraska last Monday, 16th June.

The video above shows the two violent tornadoes ripping through the countryside. The BBC reports that at least one person is dead and at least 19 are hurt.

Check out our earlier post for more information on tornadoes, how they form and how their strength is calculated.


CGS’ Ekbal on I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here!

CGS’s Ekbal Hussain is taking part in “I’m a Scientist, Get me Out of Here!”

This is a fantastic outreach event where young school students (7-11 years old in Ekbal’s group) fire questions at a group of scientists who try their best to answer them.

Check out Ekbal’s profile at the link below and read some of the answers to his questions!



Natural hazards education in the Himalayas

Natural hazards education in the Himalayas

It’s a big month as the Geology for Global Development team embark on a major natural hazards education and sustainable development project in the Himalayas.

The project (part of a broader sustainable development project in the Himalayas) will be aiming to:

  1. Share our knowledge and expertise,
  2. Learn from others about aspects of best practice in both understanding science and understanding culture and social development,
  3. Identify practical skills development opportunities for students in the UK.

CGS academics are also involved with this project. Professor Tim Wright will be giving a keynote lecture at the conference in India later next week and Ekbal Hussain has contributed to a booklet that will be used to teach school children about natural hazards in the Himalaya region (above image).

Read more about the project here: