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Our weatherman Aidan clears up the facts about fog

In the final part in his series Clearing the Air, ITV Anglia weatherman Aidan McGivern has been taking a look at fog.

He's been to Bedfordshire to talk to scientists involved in the latest research on what causes fog and how it can be predicted more accurately.

Click below to watch his special report

And here are ten facts about fog from Aidan

  • The difference between mist and fog is how far it is possible to see. The airline industry define fog as visibility less than 1000 metres. The civilian definition of fog is when visibility is less than 200 metres.
  • When fog occurs and the temperature is below 0ºC, it is called freezing fog.
  • Rime occurs when the water droplets in fog freeze onto the outer surfaces of objects, giving everything a frosted covering.
  • Smog is a type of air pollution made up of smoky pollution and fog. The worst smog to ever hit the UK was the Great Smog of 1952, which wreaked havoc for four days in London. This led to the Clean Air Act of 1956.
  • Vog occurs when volcanic gases such as sulphur dioxide react with oxygen and moisture in the atmosphere under direct sunlight to give a volcanic fog. It is common in Hawaii.
  • Fog is simply another type of cloud: a stratus cloud that sits on the ground
  • The foggiest place in the world is the Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland where the cold Labrador current from the north meets the warm Gulf Stream from the south. The water vapour that accompanies the Gulf Stream cools quickly and condenses, forming fog.
  • In the Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the driest places on Earth, fog is harvested from the air - using mesh-patterned nets to collect its water droplets.
  • The Fogstand Beetle in the Namib Desert stand still in the fog and allow the water droplets to condense onto their body, which they then drink.
  • Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is the only object other than Earth in the Solar System known to have plenty of liquid on its surface. It is also the only other object to have patches of fog, albeit fog made up of methane and ethane.

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Our weatherman Aidan takes a very close look at clouds

Aidan with the research plane

In the latest in his series Clearing the Air, ITV Anglia weatherman Aidan McGivern has been taking a close look at clouds.

He's even been flying fifty feet above the North Sea - in a bid to explain how clouds are formed.

Aidan writes:

"Even in the middle of summer, clouds are a familiar sight in the skies above the UK. But the tiny particles that cause clouds to grow and decay are much more difficult to observe. In fact, the best way to study them is to take to the skies and journey to the heart of the clouds."

Flying 50 feet above the sea

Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire is the home for the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM).

Using one of the most advanced research aircrafts in the world, Scientists from the Met Office and the Natural Environment Research Council study everything from the physics of the clouds to the chemistry of the sky.

Inside the research plane
Met Office experts

In July, Aidan took to the skies with atmospheric scientists from across the UK for an instrument test flight ahead of a research mission to the tropics.

This summer, they are investigating the moment when water droplets in clouds freeze and how this impacts the development of the cloud.

Ten facts about clouds

  1. Other planets in our Solar System have clouds. The clouds on Venus are made of sulphur dioxide whilst Jupiter and Saturn have clouds of ammonia.

  2. In 1803, Luke Howard used Latin words to classify the clouds into nine main types. These included cirrus \(wisps\), stratus \(a layer\) and cumulus \(a heap\).

  3. The average thickness of a cloud droplet is 0.02mm in diameter. This is around five times smaller than the thickness of a sheet of paper.

  4. The sunniest city in the world is officially Yuma in Arizona with over 4000 hours of sunshine each year, which amounts to around 91% of the time.

  5. The cloudiest parts of the world are found close to the poles and the cloudiest city on the planet is thought to be Chengdu in China, which has just 1,100 hours of sunshine each year.

  6. Clouds are good omens in Iran. They have a saying for when someone is blessed with good luck: “dayem semakum ghaim”. This translates as "your sky is always filled with clouds"

  7. Clouds are very heavy. A small cumulus cloud might typically weigh as much as two elephants.

  8. In 1959 Lieutenant\-Colonel William Rankin, a pilot in the US Air Force, was ejected from his plane and into a cumulonimbus thunderstorm cloud. He spent half an hour trapped in the cloud, thrown around by the up and downdrafts and pelted with hail. Amazingly, he survived the ordeal.

  9. Most clouds form in the lower part of the atmosphere called the Troposphere. Occasionally, clouds can form in the Stratosphere, which is the layer above the Troposphere. These are called Nacreous clouds.

  10. Only 1% of rain outside of the tropics comes from ice-free clouds.

Clearing the air: 10 facts about air pollution

How exactly do we know what causes fog to form, which clouds will give us rain, or how polluted the air outside is? Well, our weather presenter Aidan McGivern has been out and about this summer meeting the scientists who turn their eyes to the skies and research the state of the atmosphere. His first stop was at Weybourne in Norfolk - an unlikely site for research into global pollution levels.

But not many people will know about the observatory there on the North Norfolk coast and the work it does to monitor global air pollution levels.

So here are another 10 facts about pollution that you may also not be aware about.

  • Since the Clean Air Act in 1968, air pollution in the UK has decreased - especially sulphur dioxide and smoke.
  • However, some urban areas in the UK are still highly polluted - a 2012 study estimated that 19,000 people each year die from the effects of air pollution.
  • Another study suggested that walking in Oxford on an average day was the equivalent of smoking sixty cigarettes.
  • Air pollution from road vehicles is most harmful to human health.
  • The worst pollutants in the UK are ozone, particulate matter and sulphur dioxide.
  • The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have created a daily warning system to inform people of expected pollution levels.
  • There are 500 million cars in the world at the moment and by 2030 there are expected to be one billion cars.
  • People most at risk of high pollution levels are children, the elderly and those with heart and lung disease.
  • China is the world's largest producer of Carbon Dioxide.
  • The great smog of 1952 in London lasted for four days and is regarded as the worst pollution disaster the UK has ever known.

Clearing the air: The science behind our weather

'Clearing the air' the science behind the weather Credit: ITV News Anglia

Ever wanted to know more about the science behind our skies? Well ITV News Anglia's weather presenter Aidan McGivern has been looking into it as part of a new series of reports called 'Clearing the air'.

He's been looking at how fog forms, which clouds will give us rain, and how polluted the air outside is - and he's been finding out about it by meeting the scientists who turn their eyes to the skies and research the state of the atmosphere.

His first stop is at Weybourne - an unlikely site for research into global pollution levels.

Click below to watch his report.

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Are we falling 'out of love' with the east coast?

But 95% of people do believe that it is important to preserve the coastline Credit: ITV News Anglia

There are concerns we're falling out of love with our coastline.

A new survey for the National Trust shows that in our part of the world fewer than half of adults (43%) have taken a day trip to the beach in the last year with only 30% taking a holiday there.

But 95% questioned believe it is important to keep the coast beautiful for future generations to enjoy.

11% said that the Norfolk coast in general was particularly special to them, with a further 9% specifically mentioning Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Hunstanton, Wells next the Sea or Sheringham - whilst Suffolk or one of its coastal towns (Southwold, Lowestoft or Aldeburgh) was the top choice for 5% of people in the region.

Four more beaches to reopen at Clacton after repair work

The stretch is between Vista Road and Connaught Gardens Credit: Tendring District Council

Four more new beaches along Clacton seafront in Essex will be reopened to the public next week.

The stretch from Vista Road to Connaught Gardens East will be available to the public for the very first time as part of the second phase of a £36 million Coastal Protection Scheme.

It follows the opening of three beaches from Clacton Pier to Vista Road last month and seven beaches earlier this year from Holland Haven to Fernwood Avenue as part of phase one of the project.

The project is being financed by Tendring District Council (TDC), Essex County Council (ECC) and the Environment Agency.

"They have been opened up earlier than we originally anticipated and they are proving very popular indeed. These are beaches which would previously have been tidal but are now able to be enjoyed at all states of the tide."

– Nick Turner, Tendring District Council

The overall project will be completed in the autumn with the new coastal defences protecting more than 3,000 residential and commercial properties for the next 100 years.

Click below to watch a report from ITV News Anglia's Serena Sandhu.

Concern over Northampton lake pollution

There have been calls to tackle pollution at a Northampton beauty spot. Water levels at Swanhaven Lake in Thorplands have dropped, revealing dumped toys and televisions. Northampton Borough Council says its the result of a lack of rain. Locals say its affecting wildlife. Earlier this year it was reported that a diesel spill from a nearby industrial estate killed four cygnets on the lake.

Swanhaven Lake in Northampton Credit: ITV News Anglia
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