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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, I 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 1100 hours of sunshine each year.

  6. Clouds are good omans 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.

Thousands of students collect their GCSE results

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Thousands of students in the ITV Anglia region have received their GCSE results today. Official figures show the proportion of GCSEs awarded at least a C grade has risen again this year, but it's the fourth year in a row that top grades have fallen.

Our cameras were at the Ormiston Venture Academy at Gorleston in Norfolk when the results were handed out this morning. It became an academy in 2010 and was formerly Oriel High School.

These GCSE students are the first who've been all the way through the Academy and their results are the best ever. 61 per cent in maths and English A to C grades. An improvement of 18 per cent on last year.

They are particularly pleased because this is a school in an area of high social deprivation. Here are some pictures as the results were handed out:

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GCSE results at the King Edward V1 School in Bury St Edmunds results are up 8% on last year's.

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Here is Malcolm Robertson's report for the east of the ITV Anglia region..

And Sarah Cooper has been taking a look at the results in the west of the region...

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Grandmother wins medals at world swimming championships

Janet Masters

A grandmother from Great Brickhill near Milton Keynes has won medals at the World Masters Swimming Championships in Russia. 75 year old Janet Masters was a swimming teacher, and still trains three times a week. She won silver in the backstroke and medley events, and bronze in butterfly. She's competed in the World Masters before, and this time she just missed out on winning gold to a former Olympian, who took first place by 300th of a second.

Olivia Paterson has been to meet her. Here's her report:

'Where's the union flag' outrage over new team GB kit

The design of the new kit for team GB to wear in the World Athletics Championships later this month in Beijing, is causing controversy.

Reaction to the design which doesn't feature the Union flag, has spread across social media under the hashtag '#wheresjack'.

Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford from Milton Keynes is one athlete who has expressed concern over the missing flag, saying on twitter that "Every athlete I have spoken to wants the union flag."

British Javelin record holder Goldie Sayers from Newmarket has also joined the discussion.

We must be the only team competing at the World Championships without our flag on our competition vest."

– Goldie Sayers

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Study finds widespread discrimination against older workers

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Older jobseekers are facing widespread discrimination - according to a new study by Anglia Ruskin University.

Researchers there made up two CVs with identical skills but one from someone in their 20s - the other in their 50s.

They sent them off for almost 2000 jobs over two years and in all the older candidate was more than 4 times LESS likely to get an interview.

And the difference was even more pronounced for women, with the 50-year-old female candidate 5.3 times less likely to get an interview than the 28-year-old female.

Warnings for thunderstorms this evening and tonight

Rainfall radar at 17:40. Showers breaking out over parts of East Anglia whilst another pulse of heavy rain approaches from northern France. Credit: Met Office.

Yellow and amber warnings are in force for heavy rain as thunderstorms approach the East of England from the near continent this evening.

The amber warning is in force until 21:00 this evening and covers southern parts of Essex and the south East of England.

Yellow and amber warnings are in force for the East of England this evening. Credit: Met Office.

The Met Office Chief Meteorologist warns:

Another pulse of thundery activity from France will extend across the area this afternoon and evening. The ground remains saturated from earlier heavy rain, and the high water loading in the atmosphere means that more than 30 mm in an hour or less could well occur locally.

– Met Office Chief Meteorologist

Elsewhere, a yellow warning is in force until late Friday because of the risk of further heavy rain overnight and into Friday afternoon:

Localised thunderstorms may also develop across south east England and East Anglia during Friday late afternoon and evening, these potentially giving 15-25 mm of rain in an hour.

– Met Office Chief Meteorologist

The environment agency are also urging people to be careful not to drive through floodwater and for campers and holidaymakers to check the flood risk for their area.

Heavy rainfall this afternoon and into this evening brings risk of further surface water flooding, particularly for parts of Essex. If you’re driving away or back from your summer holidays, as always, please remember not to drive through flood water. People are urged to check their flood risk on our website, especially if you’re holidaying in an area where you’re not familiar with the flood risk.

– Nick Hopwood, national duty flood manager at the Environment Agency

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.

Number of top grades falls but record numbers off to University

Thousands of students from across our region have been opening their A-Level results.

The proportion of those achieving A and A star grades has fallen, but record numbers have been accepted on university courses.

Click below to watch a full report on todays results by ITV News Anglia's Elodie Harper.

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