Met Office in the Media: 26th April 2011

As we head back to work the Met Office can confirm that we have had the hottest Easter in recent history. The hottest place over the weekend was Wisley in Surrey where the Met Office recorded a high of 27.8 C on Saturday. Many other parts enjoyed temperatures in the low and mid 20s though it was cooler in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The previous warmest Easter was in 1984 when temperatures reach 23.7 C.

Met Office comes to the rescue as hay-fever sufferers wilt in heat writes Mike McCarthy in the Independent explaining that Britain’s millions of hayfever sufferers have a new helping hand following the  introduction of daily pollen forecasts on our website. The new service, which covers the whole of the UK, represents a step change in the resources available to sufferers. At present, it is updated at noon every day, but it is hoped that the update can be made earlier in the day to give sufferers more time to plan their days.

It gives pollen forecasts for each of the Met Office’s 16 regions, which are available as two-day, three-day and five-day forecasts, updated daily, and a monthly forecast, updated every week.

Yolanda Clewlow, Met Office UK Pollen Network Manager said: “Variable weather conditions across the country mean that levels of pollen often vary greatly from day to day, so it’s important the hay fever sufferers stay up to date with the latest forecast. You may need to take medication in advance of high-count days.”

The Independent (Branson and O’Leary ‘were wrong’ to deny ash-cloud risk), BBC (Volcanic ash air shutdown the ‘right’ decision) and Guardian (Concerns for air traffic during volcanic ash cloud were legitimate, say scientists), A new report published this week and completed by the University of Iceland and the University of Copenhagen have shown that it was right to close airspace following the eruption of the Iceland Volcano in April 2010.  Airspace closures in Europe potentially averted tragic consequences after Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano shot ash high into the atmosphere in April 2010.  Immediately after the eruption, Sigurdur Gislason and colleagues at the University of Iceland collected samples of the ash and sent them to a team led by Susan Stipp at the University of Copenhagen’s Nano-Science Center. The Danish researchers analyzed the samples and determined that the costly flight cancellations had likely been warranted. According to the authors, glacial meltwater entered the volcano and cooled the magma, which produced ash particles that were especially fine-grained, hard, sharp, and capable of sandblasting airplane surfaces such as windows and exposed aluminum parts. In addition, the authors estimate that the Eyjafjallajökull ash would have melted at the high operating temperature of most jet engines, potentially caused them to stall. In 1982, all four engines failed on an airliner carrying 263 passengers after the craft flew through an explosive ash cloud over Indonesia. The pilot managed to restart three of the engines and land safely by peering through a small strip of glass that had avoided scouring. The authors also present a protocol that may help officials assess the risk to aircraft posed by future explosive eruptions.

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