The Weather at Durham UK versus Durham, North Carolina USA

Photograph by permission of Estlin Haiss and Discover Durham

If you search for ‘Durham Weather’ in Google, you’ll likely get a mixture of results from the UK location and the one in the USA. In fact, it’s quite annoying and doubly so because optimising a website for traffic is difficult enough in the very competitive weather niche, but when there’s a competing site on the other side of the Atlantic with the same name it’s a complete pain!

However, I decided that trying to fight against it was futile, so I thought it would be fun to compare the weather (and other things) in Durham UK with that of Durham, North Carolina, USA.

I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know much about the American city, so took to Wikipedia to do some research.

North Carolina is bordered by South Carolina to the south, Georgia to the southwest, Tennessee to the west, Virginia to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean is 130 miles to the east.

The History of the Durhams

Obviously, Durham UK is a lot older than Durham USA. The Cathedral has been here since it was started in 1093 AD. Settlement around the Cathedral followed.

Durham, North Carolina didn’t really exist until a railroad depot was established by Bartlett S. Durham in 1849. It was known as Durham Station for it’s first 20 years of existence.

Both Durham UK and Durham NC are University cities. Durham NC has Duke University and North Carolina Central University.

Downtown Durham. Photograph by permission of Estlin Haiss and Discover Durham.

Durham NC grew rapidly after the railroad came and the main employment at the turn of the 20th Century was Tobacco. The Bull Durham Tobacco Company and Duke’s Tobacco Company established a monopoly in the USA. By 1910, Duke’s was broken up under anti-trust laws. The Duke’s then moved their money into Electric Power Generation.

Durham NC was surrounded by smoky, dirty power plants, not unlike Durham UK in the first part of the 20th Century in fact. Today, Durham NC is a modern city (as can be seen in the main photo above), and a lot of the buildings from the Tobacco days have been renovated and brought back to use. The area is also a noted Research Triangle in the Medical Sector.

How far apart are Durham UK and Durham NC?

According to Google, there is a distance of 3,754 miles between the two cities. Durham NC is a lot further South than Durham UK.

This would lead us to believe that Durham NC is a much warmer place, and that is true. The climate of Durham NC is one which a lot of UK people would probably desire, but the humidity may well be the thing that makes it challenging for those accustomed to the British climate.

The Climate of Durham NC vs Durham UK

Durham NC has a Humid Subtropical Climate, with hot and humid summers, cool winters, and warm to mild spring and autumn. Durham NC receives abundant precipitation, with thunderstorms common in the summer and temperatures from 26 to 38 degC. The region sees an average of 6.8 inches (170 mm) of snow per year, which usually melts within a few days.

Obviously very different to Durham UK, which is classified as Temperate!

Downtown Durham. Photo by permission of Estlin Haiss and Discover Durham.

Looking at the average data here, the average high temperatures for Durham, North Carolina in summer would be regarded as extreme for Durham UK. In Winter, there’s not as much to choose between the two, although North Carolina is a little cooler due to the Continental Influence of Mainland USA.

Durham NC

Average High : 31.4 degC (July)  Extreme High : 41 degC

Average Low : -2.3 degC (Jan)  Extreme Low : -23 degC

Average Rainfall : 100mm per month

Durham UK

Average High : 20.1 degC (July)  Extreme High : 32.9 degC

Average Low : 0.9 degC (January and February)  Extreme Low : -18.3 degC

Average Rainfall : 54mm per month

Do you live in Durham NC? 

I’d love to hear from anyone in North Carolina. If you’re living there right now, please tell us all about your city below.

Just added 3 new Weather Station Products to the Store

Just added another 3 weather station products to the Durham Weather Store today. I’m always trying to make the latest, best products available to you, so here’s a few details and the links to the products (just click the pictures to view them in the Store).

This time we have two products from Sainlogic and one from Aercus Instruments

Sainlogic WS3500 Weather Station

sainlogic 7 in 1 weather station

Sainlogic 7 in 1 Weather Station

Aercus Instruments WS2083 Weather Station

Aercus Instruments WS2083 Professional Weather Station

New Met Office Supercomputer Announced for 2022

north atlantic synoptic chart from february 9th 2020
Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis have both caused widespread wind and flooding damage

Ever wondered why your village was suddenly flooded by a thunderstorm the weather forecasters hadn’t mentioned?

Or why they failed to warn you about the dense fog shrouding your home in the morning?

The fact is that predicting the “big picture” of future conditions has got a lot better – Storm Dennis was spotted six days before it arrived.

But getting local forecasts right – street by street and hour by hour – is still a massive challenge.

And that might now change as the Met Office secures the help of a supercomputer project costing £1.2bn.

Better forecasting means handling more data, more rapidly, and running it through simulations of the atmosphere more accurately.

Already the Met Office is pulling in more than 200 billion observations from satellites, weather stations and buoys out in the ocean every single day, and that’s set to increase.

And working out if a summer downpour will flood your home or one down the road requires more and more processing power.

the met office's existing cray supercomputer
The Met Office’s existing supercomputer

“We’ll be streets ahead of anybody else,” according to Penny Endersby, chief executive of the Met Office.

“Ultimately it’ll make a difference to every individual, every government department, every industry as people see forecasts becoming steadily better.”

It’ll be the biggest investment in the 170-year history of the organisation and will dwarf the £97m bill for the current supercomputer.

In the new project, the billion-plus cost will cover not just the hardware itself but all the running costs too over a ten-year period.

There’ll be a first stage installation, which should be six times more capable than the supercomputer used now.

And then five years later there’ll be a major upgrade to increase performance by a further three times.

What will the supercomputer actually do?

It’ll run what the Met Office calls its “digital twin” of the Earth’s atmosphere, a highly detailed “model” of everything from the winds to the temperatures to the pressures.

picture of supper computer cabinets
The new supercomputer will be six times more capable than the current one

To create this simulated picture of our weather, the globe is divided into grid squares.

These have become smaller as the technology has advanced – and the smaller the better because that means more accuracy.

At the moment, the model of Earth is divided up into a grid of squares that are 10km across.

The UK gets more detailed treatment: its squares are 1,500m across.

London is studied with the aid of even smaller squares – 300m wide – mainly to improve the accuracy of forecasts for the airspace above the big airports.

And the ambition, when the new supercomputer is up and running, is to operate at an even sharper resolution, down to a scale of 100m.

Will it really make a difference?

The Met Office certainly believes it will. There’s huge demand for better forecasting – from the military to the power companies to organisers of big outdoor events.

It could guide Environment Agency teams deploying mobile flood barriers or help the National Grid balancing fluctuations in wind and solar power.

picture of the first met office computer with printout facility
Original supercomputer installed at the Met Office in Dunstable in 1959

And the prospect of rising global temperatures fuelling new and more dangerous extremes of weather makes accuracy all the more important.

There has been a huge improvement in recent years – every passing decade has seen forecasts reach a whole day further into the future.

A five-day forecast now is as accurate as a one-day forecast 40 years ago.

So will the new computing power continue that advance? Penny Endersby prefers not to be make any promises.

“I won’t hang my hat on getting another day in the next decade,” she says. “But it will make our forecasts more accurate, more timely and more localised.”

And the government has calculated what that could mean in hard cash: that for every pound invested, there should be £19 in economic benefit.

And will it help with climate change?

That’s the aim, with the digitally-simulated atmosphere also run far into the future to explore the effects of a hotter world.

The effects of the rise of 1C over the past 150 years are still not fully understood, let alone those of bigger increases to come.

It should mean researchers can add more detail to their projections, weaving in factors such as the way nitrogen reacts with the carbon in the air.

And as the UK moves towards its target of net zero emissions by 2050, there’ll be a chance to explore different options for how the country uses the land.

For example, what will the effects be of planting new forests or protecting peat bogs or growing more biofuels?

Won’t the new supercomputer itself add to carbon emissions?

Like any huge IT installation, it’ll certainly need a massive supply of electricity.

That’s why the Met Office is inviting the potential providers to come up with low-carbon options.

And that’s led to a radical idea. The last 14 Met Office computers have all been housed in the UK – and the new one might not be.

Around half of the processing work – the research devoted to climate change – could be located in countries blessed with easy sources of clean energy.

Iceland with its geothermal sources and Norway with its hydropower are both possibilities.

The offer is only open to countries in the European Economic Area – locating the facility on another continent has been ruled out because of the time lag in using a distant connection.

Invitations to the IT industry to bid for the project are being drawn up and will go out near the end of the year.

And the start date for the new machine will be sometime in late 2022.

Originally posted by the BBC here

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51504002

Live Data at Last!

NetAtmo weather station in brushed aluminium
The NetAtmo weather station powers Durham Weather. It’s available at the Durham Weather Store

After lots of configuration, I’ve now got live data from the Weather Station onto this site. It’s still very much in Beta testing at the moment, but you can now see live data from the current day at

Today’s Weather in Gilesgate, Durham

There’s details of the following Ephemerical Data

Sunrise/Sunset

Moonrise/Moonset

Day Length

Moon phase

The main meteorological data that I collect is then displayed. You can see the last 24 hours data, with the most recent data at the right hand side of each graph. The rainfall data shows the data from the current day, midnight to midnight.

Temperature

Relative Humidity

Dew Point

Rainfall

Barometric Pressure

The page is also available from the menu at the top of the screen as ‘Live Data’.

I’ll be adding to the page as I learn more about the software.

Occasional Weather Equipment Feature – The Sunshine Recorder

Occasional Weather Equipment Feature – The Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder.

This is the Campbell-Stokes Sunshine Recorder. It’s essentially a big glass ball that focuses the sun’s rays onto a curved calibrated card and burns a trace when the sun is out.

The length of the burn mark is then measured against the scale on the card, revealing the length of bright sunshine hours per day.

The card is changed every day in manned observing stations. The CSSR has been replaced by electronic sensors on modern weather stations and allows them to be unmanned.

“The Great Global Warming Swindle” 2007

This was a video produced by Channel 4 in 2007, supposedly debunking Global Warming/Climate Change. Discussion ensued on The North East Forum at the time. This was in 2007 and the warming has got worse since then. It’s an interesting discussion and fairly typical of arguments at the time. Here’s a transcript.

Barcode :

I notice the people who were involved in the film are respected scientists who are not afraid to delve into historic fact to prove their theories! Something that the ‘we are to blame for global warming’ mob seem to avoid at all costs. Just visit a site which has discussions on the subject and notice how often the mention of the last ice age seems to kill the thread without fail.

Durham Weather :

I haven’t watched it all the way through yet, but noticed that at least one of the scientists featured is Piers Corbyn. He’s portrayed in the film as one who bets on his weather forecasts based on solar data and gets it right all of the time. That’s not true, his forecasts are at times woeful and often wrong, no better than chance. He has also flatly refused to have any of his methods tested by his peers, so is regarded as a bit of an eccentric and chancer. I’ve actually met Piers, he’s a nice man, but isn’t regarded very highly in Meteorological circles.

Also, it seems that other bits of evidence are being ignored in the film to illustrate the point they’re trying to make. Lots of fancy 3D graphs, but not a lot of science. Graphs axes have been vastly expanded to make correlations look ‘nailed on’, when in fact only tenuous correlations exist in reality.

One thing i’ve learned about climate change is that everyone seems to have an opinion about it, even though they probably have no great understanding of climatic processes, oceanography or the chemistry involved. They form their opinion based on the media’s distorted reporting of it (both sides). My own view? Climate Change is occurring and man is contributig to it. It’s not a vast contribution in the scale of things, but it seems to be making the difference in the speed of change, on top of natural warming, which nature is struggling to cope with. It makes sense to conserve our finite resources, and pouring oil on the fire doesn’t seem a sensible thing to do into the future. It makes sense to try to operate in a way that might help mitigate the change rather than adding to it’s magnitude.

You don’t need to be an eminent scientist with a research grant, I can see the warming in the data from Durham University. It’s quite plain to see. To deny it exists is just stupid. It’s not all due to humans, that isn’t the claim at all, but it is however something we should be worried about and try to prepare ourselves for and reduce if possible. Politicians of course see it as another way to tax us further into oblivion, a fact that we should despise them for. They should offer incentives, not punitive taxes to make life more of a misery than it already is for some people.

Phil :

I watched the entire thing; my interest is chiefly in the communications angle. Some well-tried-and-true devices at work here, some done well and others quite clumsy. Some made me laugh out loud, for instance the background music (strings for the ‘bad science,’  piccolos for the ‘good science’) but overall it was quite an effective vehicle for the propaganda it carries.

Examined carefully, its thesis is that carbon dioxide is not a major cause of global warming, but the presentation purports that global warmng is a hoax — in fact not a single scientist agreed with that, but it was well glossed over.

Question everything. It’s how science works.

Barcode :

Ok! what about the global warming that ended the last ice age?

Durham Weather : 

What about it?

Barcode :

Why did it not lead to catastrophic events that are predicted by todays scientists for the present global warming which they blame on human activity! Was global warming 10`000 years ago down to industry (foraging was about the largest industry at the time)or was it something more natural and less fantastic as we are lead to believe?
By the way Durham Forum, your reply above is quite fallible.

Durham Weather :

I’d be more than happy if you could demonstrate the fallability for me. How much do you know about climate science, astronomy and oceanography?

Barcode :

Not that much but the question of historic global climatic changes still seem to be shunned.

Durham Weather :

Before being led astray by the media and Channel 4 (on both sides of the argument), get a copy of ‘Climate, History and the Modern World’ by HH Lamb and read it. All of the reasons for variations in climate both past, present and future are covered. It was published in 1982, before climate hysteria descended upon us. It’s not a simple relationship like the C4 programme tried to put over, and the peculiar arrangements of Solar cycles, orbital changes, ocean current heat transport changes, prevailing wind, sea ice, Volcanic dust levels, proximity to permanent ice sheets and all such things need to be taken into account too. Feedback loops exist when some of the inputs are altered, before a new steady state of climates is established. Most of the feedback loops are positive ones, adding to the warming. It’s not as simple as just saying CO2 follows temperature, nor the other way round. If this was the only relationship that was important in atmospheric physics, the world would have lost it’s breathable atmosphere long ago. CO2 is important because it changes the way the atmosphere manages it’s heat budget; even the small quantities that it is present at in the atmosphere. Water vapour and methane are also greenhouse gases, and would also contribute positive feedback to any increase in temperature. In short, it’s far more complicated and can only really be modelled on a computer. Our best understanding at the moment is that human activity contributes to the overall warming. It’s small at the moment, but it will become a bigger and bigger influence in future if we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere at the rate we are at now.

The theory of Cosmic Rays/Solar variation being the driving factor that was presented in the programme has never been proved by anyone. Drawing a few graphs isn’t science. You have to prove your postulated theory for it to become accepted as fact, and Piers Corbyn has never done that i’m afraid.

Barcode :

Get one thing straight here! I am not asking the question about the history of climatic change for the first time! in fact I have been asking the question for years before i saw that video! and as yet the question about historic climatic change and why recent climatic change is different is still avoided.

Durham Weather :

It may be avoided in sensational TV programmes, but if you read the book I suggested you’ll see that in fact it hasn’t been. I think i’ve explained why the two situations are different. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now approaching what atmospheric scientists suspect is a critical level. They’re getting nervous about it, and piling more into the atmosphere just doesn’t sound too sensible. Once that critical level is reached, it’s believed that abrupt and sudden climatic changes may occur, before a new steady state of climate is reached. The new steady state may take some time to arrive though, with climatic turmoil in the meantime. One of the consequences is that European temperatures may drop 4-5 degC, perhaps in a 25 year time span. This type of thing probably happened in the past when ice-ages occurred (a cooler spell, the Little Ice Age. occured after the Mediaeval Warm period mentioned in the C4 programme, this was put down to the Maunder minimum sunspot period, but may have been due to a change in ocean/wind circulation). Global Warming may well result in Local Cooling for some. If it were to occur in Europe it would have catastrophic effects. Harvests would fail, food would be rationed, populations would migrate south, causing pressures elsewhere, shortage of water would then become a problem too. Burying our heads in the sand and denying the holocaust is all well and good, but it doesn’t help in the least.

There may actually be bog-all we can do about the warming, but we can try to prepare for it’s effects, minimise the loss of life and make everyone aware of what is likely to happen. Or we can just pretend it doesn’t exist.

Barcode :

Forgive me for being argumentative but they also ranted on about the ozone layer and how we would also all be dying from skin cancer by the year 2000! I aint got skin cancer in 2007 and I don?t know anyone that has it.

Durham Weather :

If you moved to Australia you might find that incidences of melanoma have increased dramatically. The ozone hole was/is a southern hemisphere phenomenon, not a northern one (not anything like the same depletion anyway). Banning chlorofluorocarbons has had an effect and the ozone depletion is becoming less severe each year now, but there is a time lag before CFC’s are removed from the atmosphere and the hole is ‘plugged’ as it were. If nothing had been done, there would have been a huge explosion in skin cancers there (until the human body evolved to be more tolerant to UV light, but that might take 500,000 years or so).

Barcode :

So why did it happen down there when the northern hemisphere is the most industrialised and producing a lot more CFC`s by a long long way?

Durham Weather :

The atmospheres over the two poles are very different. Antarctica exists as a land mass, surrounded by water, whereas the north pole is essentially water that freezes in winter, surrounded by land. The height of the tropospheric boundary is also different in the southern hemisphere, as are the stratospheric cloud formations needed for the reactions to occur. It is thought that the southern circulation allows a deeper vortex over the pole (there isn’t as much land to disturb the flow, and it’s colder), so concentrations of CFCs are higher there. If you look at a map of the globe, the most land is in the northern hemisphere and the south is pretty much all water. It doesn’t really matter where on the globe the CFCs are produced, they will always migrate toward the poles, in the north the vortex is disturbed by land masses, and it isn’t as cold, in the south it isn’t, so higher CFC concentration and less ozone produced, hence a bigger ‘hole’.

Barcode :

Hang here a minute you have lost me! The Polar Regions effect the placement of ozone depleting gasses? Which CFC`s are metallic enough to migrate because of polarity?
Call me stoopid if you like.

Durham Weather :

It’s not a magnetic effect, rather one of atmospheric circulation. When I talk of ‘poles’ I don’t mean it in a ‘magnetic polarity’ kind of way. Sorry if I misled you there.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6290228.stm

A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun’s output cannot be causing modern-day climate change.

It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun’s output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen.

It also shows that modern temperatures are not determined by the Sun’s effect on cosmic rays, as has been claimed.

Writing in the Royal Society’s journal Proceedings A, the researchers say cosmic rays may have affected climate in the past, but not the present.

“This should settle the debate,” said Mike Lockwood, from the UK’s Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory, who carried out the new analysis together with Claus Froehlich from the World Radiation Center in Switzerland.

Dr Lockwood initiated the study partially in response to the TV documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, broadcast on Britain’s Channel Four earlier this year, which featured the cosmic ray hypothesis.

“All the graphs they showed stopped in about 1980, and I knew why, because things diverged after that,” he told the BBC News website.

“You can’t just ignore bits of data that you don’t like,” he said.

Warming trend

The scientists’ main approach on this new analysis was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature, which has risen by about 0.4C over the period.

The Sun varies on a cycle of about 11 years between periods of high and low activity.

But that cycle comes on top of longer-term trends; and most of the 20th Century saw a slight but steady increase in solar output.

However, in about 1985, that trend appears to have reversed, with solar output declining.

Yet this period has seen temperatures rise as fast as – if not faster than – any time during the previous 100 years.

“This paper reinforces the fact that the warming in the last 20 to 40 years can’t have been caused by solar activity,” said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of climate science.

Cosmic relief

The IPCC’s February summary report concluded that greenhouse gases were about 13 times more responsible than solar changes for rising global temperatures.

But the organisation was criticised in some quarters for not taking into account the cosmic ray hypothesis, developed by, among others, Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Danish National Space Center.

Their theory holds that cosmic rays help clouds to form by providing tiny particles around which water vapour can condense. Overall, clouds cool the Earth.

During periods of active solar activity, cosmic rays are partially blocked by the Sun’s more intense magnetic field. Cloud formation diminishes, and the Earth warms.

Mike Lockwood’s analysis appears to have put a large, probably fatal nail in this intriguing and elegant hypothesis.

He said: “I do think there is a cosmic ray effect on cloud cover. It works in clean maritime air where there isn’t much else for water vapour to condense around.

“It might even have had a significant effect on pre-industrial climate; but you cannot apply it to what we’re seeing now, because we’re in a completely different ball game.”

Drs Svensmark and Friis-Christensen could not be reached for comment.

SouthernExPat :

My major problem with the whole Global Warming thing is the Scientists! (and the Labour Government of course, who attempt to use it as an excuse just to tax the f*ck out of us)

The reason I have trouble believing Modern Science is thus!

a) Scientists warned us that our VHS recorders, Computers and Microwave ovens were all going to explode on 1/1/00…And Aircraft would drop out of the skies! (bulls*it)

b) They told us that by the year 2000 one in three people in the world would have AIDS (bullsh*t)

c) They scaremongered about SARS wiping out the worlds population (bullsh*t)

d) They scaremongered about Bird Flu wiping out our native Birds etc (bullsh*t)

e) They scaremongered that eggs were full of Salmonella and would poison us (bullsh*t)

these are just ones that jump to mind!

I thought Science was about cold, hard FACTS

If the above is to be believed…thats (Bullsh*t) too

Phil :

Science is a method; it has no opinions.

Gather the villagers … to the castle!

SouthernExPat :

I am not going anywhere near the castle thank you! (that was invented by Science too) :D

Tessxvi :

Would it not be truer to say that the media said the above?  To find out what the original report actually said would probably be quite difficult.

One of the things that worries me about our world today is that all our “information” comes through the media pipeline.  Finding out “the facts” is hard work and all too often we don’t bother – or we give up.

SouthernExPat :

Tessxvi?.. That is a very valid point. 8)

I may have been the victim of the media circus…but then I am sure the Government are too (rather more than they care to admit) :?

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