Educators

Explore polar science in the Year of Polar Prediction

Less than one percent of the world’s population lives in the polar regions. Yet the Arctic and Antarctic regions make international news quite often, as researchers find growing evidence of the effects of a warming world on these sensitive areas. The plight of the natural systems at the poles, and the effects that spread far beyond them, are the impetus for the recent launch of the Year of Polar Prediction.  

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Storm Surge

When a tropical cyclone (also known as a hurricane) makes landfall, we often hear initial reports of the damage from associated high winds. But in coastal areas, storm surge is often the greatest threat a hurricane or other extreme storm poses to life and property. Globally, storm surge events have been responsible for millions of deaths, and billions of dollars worth of damage.

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Understanding Clouds

Always present yet constantly changing, clouds are a kind of global “language” of the skies, offering cues to what is happening in the atmosphere. The theme of World Meteorological Day on 23 March 2017 was Understanding Clouds. 

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Tsunami: Waves of Destruction

Imagine the sight of a wall of seawater rolling toward the shore at a speed of 25 miles/40 kilometers per hour. This is the frightening potential of a tsunami (soo-NAH-mee), and a very real concern for millions of people living in coastal areas around the world.

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Fire in the sky

Lightning has intrigued and baffled humans for thousands of years. It was believed to be the weapon of choice for numerous figures in early mythology and religion such as the Greeks’ Zeus, the Scandinavians’ Thor, and the Hindu storm deities known as Maruts. We now understand the scientific basis for what causes lightning, but it remains a mysterious and often dangerous phenomenon.

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What are Greenhouse Gases?

The Earth has a natural greenhouse effect that is vital to life.  Without it, the Earth’s average temperature would be a chilly -18°Celsius. The natural greenhouse effect is due to trace amounts of water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in the atmosphere. These gases let solar radiation reach the Earth’s surface but absorb infrared radiation emitted by the Earth. This leads to the heating of the surface of the planet to a mean surface temperature that is 33°Celius greater than it would be in the absence of the natural greenhouse effect.

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Flying Into the Eye

Experiencing a tropical cyclone – the generic term for a hurricane, typhoon, or severe cyclonic storm, depending upon where in the world you live - can be exciting, frightening, and fascinating. But imagine flying an airplane into the storm itself! This is the job of “hurricane hunters” – scientists who risk their own lives to gain critical information that can save the lives of others in the path of a storm. 

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What is the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?

The Conference of Parties, known as COP, is the decision-making body responsible for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It brings together the 197 nations and territories – called Parties – that have signed on to the Framework Convention. The COP has met annually since 1995. The 21st Session of the COP (COP21), held in Paris, France, in December 2015, was historic in its outcome – the first international climate agreement.

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DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE OVER 1000 ACTIVE SATELLITES IN ORBIT AROUND THE EARTH?

Did you know that there are over 1 000 active satellites in orbit around the earth? Though we don’t often see them or think about them, these satellites are out in space working 24/7/365, providing a wide range of information and services that are crucial to many aspects of our daily lives: communication, navigation, national defense, weather observations, agriculture and more. Some satellites even monitor the activity of the sun, providing information that is used to predict solar flares and similar events that can affect us here on Earth.

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