Happy New Year

The years roll us and change us and we change with them and we change them.

I wish all my readers a very safe happy and prosperous new year.




An earth quake near Sellafield Nuclear power plant

On 21st December 2010 a small earthquake occurred in Cumbria. It was reported as a quaint item of interest; no damage was caused and it lasted about 30 seconds. It was centred on Coniston and had a magnitude of 3.6 on the Richter scale. Most reports ignored one important factor. The quake was felt at Sellafield, not terribly far from Coniston. Continue reading

Snowy airports

In December the United Kingdom was covered in snow. As snow goes it was not as bad as the conditions that prevail in some parts of Europe every winter.  Virtually every other northern European country has had such snowfall most years and copes well. Their airports are kept open. In the United Kingdom Heathrow Airport closed down because snow fell. Continue reading

One swallow does not make a summer

… neither does one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy, so wrote Aristotle. It is just happiness that depends on more than a brief moment, but also climate change.

We have had a very bitter December in the United Kingdom and in many parts of Northern Europe. It is not time to think that global warming has reversed or that we are in for another period like the Maunder Minimum on this account. A few years readings do not signify the direction of a changing climate and the reason is simple. Two thirds of the surface of this planet is covered by large amounts of water. We might know a great deal about measuring climate and its variations, and we might be able to suggest algorithms for predicting where the climate is going but we do not have the most important information for our calculations. We do not understand how much energy the sea absorbs and what the effect of this absorption will be on a changing climate.

The sea has a conveyor belt type current which circulates much of the oceans like a continuous mobius band, starting where it ends. The oscillation is governed by sea temperatures. There is plenty of capacity in the sea to absorb heat, but we do not know the effect of this on the sea’s great oscillations and how it will affect the Gulf Stream, the Humboldt and all the other branches of this planet’s great currents.

I have read many articles in which writers, some learned and some ignorant of learning, suggest that global cooling is today’s threat rather than global warming. Perhaps they are right but their suggestion if based on a season’s weather in a particular location, is no more scientific than guessing the lottery numbers or calculating a formula to beat the casino. Others argue that the planet is warming and that remains the view of the majority of those who have studied the case. Despite the snow 2010 will be the warmest or second warmest year on record, as far as the planet is concerned.

Just as one swallow does not make a summer, so one snowfall does not an ice age make.



Winter’s so cold this year…

Happy Christmas

Snow in the Suburb

A rare snow scene in London. 

Let it snow

The United Kingdom is now full of snow. This is an unusual event for the United Kingdom and our lack of snow preparation is legendary. Major airports have been closed, right now before Christmas when families want to be reunited. Trains are going slowly, if at all and in some parts of the country car travel is almost impossible. This happens every time we have a major snow fall, but fortunately major snowfalls do not happen frequently. Continue reading

Problems with unvented hot water cylinders in freezing weather

If you have gas central heating and in very cold weather you find the heating is working but no hot water is coming out of the taps and cold water is only available to some of the ground floor taps then you need to get your hot water working. Continue reading

Your solar panels in snowy weather

There is a lot of snow around the United Kingdom right now and we are not used to it. If you have solar panels on your roof – they may be PV or thermal panels because for the purposes of this article they react to snow in the same way – here are a few points you may wish to know.

  1. Do not get up on the roof and try and brush the snow away. I could not imagine a more dangerous activity than getting up on a slippery very cold roof.
  2. As temperatures get warmer the layer of snow in touch with the panels will melt from the reflected light and heat of the panels (PV panels get hot, as do thermal panels) and the snow will fall from the panels.
  3. Once clear of snow the panels will work surprisingly well despite the cold weather. Solar panel use all light to produce energy, not just direct sunshine and the reflected light from snow and ice will hit the panels producing electricity or heat. The limitation will be the short daylight hours, rather than the cold weather.
  4. If you have evacuated tubes fitted the snow will fall from these after they fall from flat panels. However cold weather will let you know if a tube has blown and needs replacing. Each tube should be covered in frost or ice as the vacuum prevents the glass from being warmed by the heat collecting device inside the tube. If the vacuum has been lost the tube will be free from frost and will need replacing.