Rob Beschizza at 1:19 pm Thu, Jan 7, 2010
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The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek
It’s actually a myth that the Gulf Stream is responsible for Britain and Europe’s temperate climate.
Cool picture, though.
Seems like this current oscillation will give a good test to the theory discussed in your link.
Wait, this is what it looks like now, or this is what it would look like?
That is a real photo of what it’s like at the moment (or, maybe a couple of days ago). It was on the BBC news website yesterday, at least.
Mr professor of geography at Cambridge must be seeing a different view on his screen. I can see Scotland, England, Wales a small amount of The Republic of Ireland,and Northern Ireland (mostly under cloud) This therefore is essentially The British Isles not England.For those folk freaking out at the prospect of “The Day after Tomorrow” syndrome much of the lowland areas have only a dusting of snow and yes he’s right on one thing, of course the Gulf Stream plays its part in keeping us warm.The title is wrong as the Gulf Stream hasn’t moved so its not Britain without the Gulf Stream.However should the Gulf Stream change course we would freeze up in winter.
parle franÃ§ais je comprend rien
Um, technically, that’s the United Kingdom – Scotland is the upper 3rd. But jeez – don’t it look all froze up??? Good thing I live in FL – where we’ve had balmy sub-freezing temps (at night) for a week now …..
When didya say summer’s coming?
As Northern Ireland is mainly obscured, I’d say it’s a photo of Britain.
Great Britain refers to England, Scotland and Wales, while the United Kingdom refers to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Temperatures in the 60′s isn’t exactly sub-freezing dude.
But it is about normal.
….actually that is Great Britain. The larger of the two land masses. The United Kingdom is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The British Isles being the two land masses of Great Britain and Ireland.
It really is a beautiful image.
The ridge of mountains running N/S is called the Pennines or ‘the backbone of England’ and this picture shows them perfectly.
It’s a lot of fun picking out the towns and cities. A unique form of IR imaging!
It’s -2 and falling here in suburban London.
Why is everybody talking about ocean currents? Un the UK we have been told it is the JET stream that has shifted giving us this miserable freezing weather. The jet stream is a prevailing air flow, not ocean current, and is much more open to variation. Temp last night of -10C in Cornwall last night: almost unheard of!
actually, it’s the island of Great Britain… The United Kingdom comprises of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is the name of the country, not the landmass :P
At this time I would like to engage in a popular hobby amongst the natives of Southern California– gloating about how pleasant our weather is.
I’m wearing a T shirt today, and yesterday I drove my convertible down the coast from Malibu to Santa Monica. It’s sunny and warm, and the sky is crystal clear. I might go lay out in the sun later and have a mojito.
Have a nice day!
Um, no, technically it’s Britain, just as the post said. The United Kingdom includes, among other bits, Northern Ireland, which is largely obscured by clouds in this shot.
Here we go, some real, factual context with reliable sourcing:
Jeeze BB, do some factchecking instead of c/ping secondary sources. It only took me a couple minutes to find this article.
Very strange here in Shropshire at the moment, it’s much colder than usual but doesn’t seem it. It’s either sunshine or snow, no rain or grey cloud since this started – either amazing winter sunshine or snow … I could get used to this!
hi from the USA. I’m originally from Kidderminster!
Britain – Gulf Stream = Hoth
I for one would pay several quid to watch Richard Branson sleep inside a Tauntaun.
Without Northern Ireland, it’s not the UK, Mr. Smarty-Pants. It’s Great Britain, or Britain, for short.
And if you’re going to say that Northern Ireland is included because it’s partially there, then you’d have to admit that the Republic of Ireland is there as well, and there goes the whole UK thing again.
The British Isles? Though I imagine that would give heartburn to the Irish.
Yes – calling us part of the british isles gives heartburn. Thanks
@gary actually mate, the uk is britain and Northern Ireland, Scotland is part of Britain and the Uk. And I know cause I’m scottish. Really appreciate it though. Now if they ever say it’s England. .. =D
I think the cold has gone to every ones heads.
Your all as mad as a box of frogs.
All I know is that I am British, English, living in the United Kingdom and freezing and now the gas is running out there’s no food to be found in the shops, that’s if we can get to the shops through the 1inch deep snow, without breaking my neck by slipping up on the ice that has formed on every pavement.
On top of that I will have to avoid all the hoodies out there drinking and taking drugs on every street corner. Not to mention all the asbo kids, toddlers and old folks who got an asbo for sledging in the snow and flaunting health and safety advise.
But on a lighter note I’m sure that The Daily Express will have a new exclusive on Princess Diana in the morning to take my mind of off everything.
I’m off to put my head in the gas oven before it all runs out.
Much love, peace and enjoy the snow,
Its quite extraordinary in South East England. I know that the rest of the country gets snow at least once a year but in the Thames Valley we hardly ever get it. I can count about 6 or 7 times in my entire life.
Now we’ve had it 3 separate times in the past year: February 09, December 09 and now January 10. What I’ve observed (which isn’t much of a surprise for northerners) is that because the newspapers and tv news are based in London, its only big news when it hits the South East. However, this is some treacherous snow, topping that of the recent ones by far. Hopefully soon we shall get over it and learn to deal with it instead of the entire country going on stand still. We need advice from America on the issue… and if you could send some of those big arsed shovels you have, that’d help too. Ta very much :)
A lot of non-UK people seem to confuse Britain with England. UK = Britain and Ireland. Britain = Scotland, Wales and England. England = where the queen lives. We can’t really complain because I don’t know many people who can tell the difference between Holland and The Netherlands.
britain and northern ireland. ireland proper is and entirely separate political entity, as of 1921. (it hard to keep current on these things sometimes…)
It was 1922 before the Anglo-Irish Treaty was accepted by DÃ¡il Ã‰ireann actually. And Irish people remained British subjects until 1949 when the last link to the Commonwealth was broken and a full republic was declared. (We retained citizenship rights anyway because of another act passed in 1948.)
Oi – UK does not equal Britain and Ireland. I know you are just clarifying but as someone from Ireland I do like being put back in the UK…..
UK=Britain and Northern Ireland yes.
“… England = where the queen lives”
Except when she’s living in Scotland.
yeah, but the land of the leprechauns still might GREEN
i mentioned this to a friend who mentioned the book 1421, and the potential for a current like this to provide the chinese fleet described therein with a navigable path all the way around greenland. somehow thinking about them together helps me think it’s ok.
Leave it to pedants to suck the magic out of a little snow.
While you all are arguing about place names, I’d like to discuss the English language, which claims to be spoken (more or less) by everyone living in the pictured area. In that language, the whole comprises the parts; i.e., the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland comprises England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The phrase “is comprised of” is never proper English.
Thank you. I now return you to the geography pedants.
The danger of pedantry is that you have to be very careful not to make mistakes yourself. We all are speaking English the way it’s currently used, same as you.
All I know is that it’s brass monkeys, I haven’t seen any grass in 3 days and I’m working from home because my car has turned into a very wide snowman.
Not to complain though, it’s a goldmine for the black and white photographer.
UK Not = Britain and Ireland!
I’m sure you meant to say “UK = Britain and Northern Ireland”.
As the Republic of Ireland is a completely different country.
C’mon you Brits (or whatever), you’re off topic. This is about what’s heating your butts, not about giving names to them…
i so agree – all those extensive literate skills and no one even walking upright -
Um… y’all may wanna look at Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” in which he describes potential Gulf Stream shutdown as a consequence of Global Warming.
Never thought I’d see Britain described as unusually warm. Well apart from those heatwaves y’all got a year or 2 ago. They were hot, this Texan even took off his sweatshirt.
The depth of snow is variable across the country. Here in north Wales we’ve only had 3-4 inches. The main roads are clear and no problem. Even though it’s been -2 outside I’ve been out in short sleeves wondering when it’s going to get cold. If it hadn’t descended as snow we would no doubt be complaining about the rain and the flooding!
Get a life, it’s too short as it is. Enjoy what is around you, adapt to the conditions and enjoy yourself as we’re a long time dead.
Thermidorlobster, it’s bloomin’ parky down here in Exeter and even colder and whiter in Mid Devon. The bike commute is a real frost-beard event.
Canucks can gloat but they’re used to it. As soon as I buy snow spikes, it’ll be a heatwave again!
This is our doing (us being Icelanders).
We’re trying to show the UK government that they must mend their wicked ways, and enter into real negotiations instead of using bullying tactics. Work according to european law, and we will take the cold back!
Actually, Great Britain is England and Scotland. Wales is just one of the English regions.
#60: ‘Actually, Great Britain is England and Scotland. Wales is just one of the English regions.’
hahahaha ha ha… are you for real? Methinks you need to catch-up on your recent history. A province no more are we. Good day sir!
Can we just call it The British Isles and call it a day?
Please don’t mock us.. We are as unprepared for this kind of weather as most continental Europeans would be for umpiring a Cricket Match or making a really good cup of tea.
Most winters (in the south anyway) all we need is some gloves, a hat, de-icer spray, window scraper and a smile.
Winter tyres, snow shovels and persistant snow are alien concepts.
@JohnCJ: Being cold tolerant has its advantages. What’s an 1800 SF house with a 2 car garage within walking distance of a functional and relatively crime-free downtown cost there?
Relatively little if you want to count the walls and ceiling in the square footage. :)
So, just to clarify….
This is a picture of Shropshire which is comprised of England, Wales, Scotland, Iceland and Eastern Ireland and the UK, except for the third Friday of every month, when it isn’t. On said days it will be called Great Britain, excepting Leap Years, when it shall be called Shepherd’s Pie.
Hang on a minute!!! Some of France is there too. So shouldn’t it be ‘Northern Europe’????
There’s a handy venn diagram here which explains the whole britain/UK thing: http://qntm.org/?uk
Author says it’s technically a Euler, not a Venn. Not that I would know the difference. He probably just said that so the International Olympic Committee wouldn’t sue.
@mwiik #24: Thank you for posting the link to the Venn diagram. I often have to try to explain the whole UK/Great Britain/England thing to my students, and this diagram will certainly help.
Look, it’s actually incredibly simple: Magic has returned to the British Isles, the Raven King is shutting down civilisation throughout by stifling it under a thick blanket of snow, and the Continent is next to be conquered.
This is what happens when you build a bypass through an ancient burial grounds one too many times.
Come to America, where the worst that will happen is the Great Plains taking back Omaha and Fort Worth.
When (not) in Rome..
Excellent picture of the Insulae Britannicae, good shot of Hibernia and Caledonia with Albion looking a tad cold even for this time of year. Shame we can’t see Thule, though..
Pah, and they call me old fashioned…
Re: the gulf stream myth link: it doesn’t seem to take into account the significant effect the ocean has on creating the pressure systems in the Atlantic and the rest of the world. While it might be true the ocean temperature itself doesn’t contribute to warming and or cooling directly, the article states that those effects are likely due to the atmospheric structure, which it seems highly likely is influenced greatly by the ocean, since it is the largest breathing thing on the planet. Nothing takes in and gives off more gases than the ocean, so I’m curious what those effects are if any.
Does anyone have any reference or research on that?
When anyone who has studied any real amount of meteorology talks about the gulf stream heating these countries what they are talking about are concepts such as heat trasnference, latent energy, convection etc. They are talking about the huge area of ocean putting energy into the atmosphere which does all kinds of funny, energetic things..
When talking about it in very general terms it’s easier to say”the gulf stream heats the country up” than to explain physics (latent energy and such).
I’ve studied a little meteorology, but really only equivalent to one good, basic university course, so I don’t have any REALLY deep understanding of the subject.
As to pointing you towards research: pretty much ALL low altitude met research works with these concepts and examines how land masses or oceans (or other water bodies) affect air mass energy levels.
The Gulf Stream does warm the UK, but people often wrongly compare it to Labrador, which is east of a continent. British Columbia is much warmer than Eastern Canada at the same latitude, despite the fact that some of the currents they get flow south. Having an ocean to your east moderates the temperature.
So I think that the picture is an exaggeration.
I would love to know why having an ocean on the east and west is so different? I understand the difference between latitudes easterlies and westerlies, but it seems like those would just make the different zones mirror each other, and they don’t.
For instance, if you look about 30 degrees North or South the two types of winds meet, so I’d expect the coasts to be similar. Instead North and South America, Africa, and Australia all have big or small deserts to the west, while the east coast of the Americas and Asia are all wet forests.
I understand the difference has to do with the way the Earth turns, but since it’s not just what it does to the winds and those are supposedly closely linked to the currents, I’m not sure what the mechanism might be. Does anyone have any insights?
Here is another view of the causeâ€”from the perspective of the jet streamâ€”the Polar Cell has expanded to subsume the Ferrell Cell: http://is.gd/5StWF- On either side of the Pond the Gulf Stream vacationing better be wished forâ€”rather than a vacating. If this is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) shutting down…
OK – so to sum up, this post isn’t worth reading because it’s totally not fact checked and is just a silly excuse to put a satellite picture up.
Well done BB, you’re my favourite blog all the same.
The post is fine… it’s the comments that aren’t fact checked ;-)
The snowy bit in the picture is mainland Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as per the Venn diagram posted by mwiik (http://qntm.org/?uk). And we do benefit from the Gulf Stream. And now the weather is coming from the North we can tell that the country’s infrastructure can’t cope with cold weather…
this is by far the most entertaining boingboing string in months!
@williamaowen: the American Scientist had a more in depth article (by the same author) were he discuss some of those issues: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/id.999,y.0,no.,content.true,page.1,css.print/issue.aspx
I’m surprised by the image as my father in South Devon only had a smattering of snow, for a couple of hours, before it all went green again. Interesting they managed to get the pic during this small window, particularly as presumably other areas experienced the same smattering at different times. But not so interesting that I can be bothered to find out any more about it.
Having just come up from South Devon, I can confirm that the fields from Torbay to Exeter were still dusted with snow as of Saturday afternoon, and there were still roadside drifts on minor roads (or still covering very minor roads). I suspect your father, Thermidor, lives in town, is downplaying the severity of conditions, or was just lucky in missing the worst of the weather.
williamaowen: The link I posted included links to a research paper in a peer-reviewed journal, which also made it into Scientific American.
Here they are in case you missed them:
BoingBoing should really investigate this further and maybe do a correction. I’m pretty sure that it’s the consensus in the climatology community that the Gulf Stream=Why Europe is Temperate thing is mostly an urban legend.
on a lighter note, i understand that someone has built a large snow penis on calmore roundabout, southampton
Good ol Gordon Brown solved global warming with one meeting in Copenhagen
Quick! Switch on the satellite! Devon’s had a bit of snow!
I think you are missing the point with regards to the climate effects of the gulfstream and the potential impact a change in the phenomenon may engender. I’m a Professor of Geography at Cambridge University and I can say without prejudice that the country in the image is called England.
What’s the deal with Ireland? It’s still green! If the Gulf Stream is to blame for the largest of the British Isles being snowed in, you’d think Ireland would be snowy too, unless it has rained a lot recently. I suspect that the picture may have been shooped to emphasize the whiteness of the Wales.
Ireland is snowy. You can see on the picture the snow in the greater Dublin area (go left from Wales). But the prevailing weather systems in the last couple of weeks have been from the NE, so Britain (and particularly its East coast) have been the worst hit.
You know what we call this in Canada?
Been reading some articles on the Gulf Stream Myth, e.g. http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/gs/
“A slowdown of the Gulf Stream and ocean circulation in the future, induced by freshening of the waters caused by anthropogenic climate change (via melting glaciers and increased water vapor transport into high latitudes) or simply by warming, would thus introduce a modest cooling tendency. This would leave the temperature contrast across the Atlantic unchanged and not plunge Europe back into the ice age or anything like it. In fact the cooling tendency would probably be overwhelmed by the direct radiatively-driven warming by rising greenhouse gases.”
What about historical correlation between Gulf Stream weakening and the Little Ice Age in Europe? http://www.nature.com/news/2006/061127/full/news061127-8.html
Note a critique of the Seager article at http://www.realclimate.org/Rhines_hakkinen_2003.pdf
No matter what you call it, we still beat any single one of you at the penalties.
(and yes, Germany is just as white)
Thanks for clearing up that whole UK/Britain thing. We had been wondering.
A picture can be of something even when it has some other things around the margin of the frame. You’re allowed to say “here’s a photo of my wife” even if there are grass, houses, and even other people in it. By the same token this is a photo of Britain, despite parts of Ireland, France, and a great deal more ocean.
it is not a current photo
It is fairly current. It is from 11:50 yesterday morning (UTC). It says so in the filename of the NASA image, and there is also a version of this image on the Dundee Satellite Receiving Station site (needs a free login).
#26: It is an actual sat photo of yesterday.
Yes it is. It was taken at midday today (the 7th).
Hey hey. . . don’t give Dr. Evil any ideas now.
GB…UK… how about we just call it “the larger of the two main islands formed when glacial flood waters filled the North Sea basin resulting in the wearing away of part of the original penninsula’s chalk mass”.
Or perhaps, “that bigger island off the coast of France”…..?
Living in Northern Canada, I find it hard to sympathize.
Wow, just like The Day After Tomorrow. ;)
It’s nice, I’ve never seen snow like this before.
(It’s been here for three days and is still slightly powdery, and it’s been below 0°C all day! Awesome!)