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Fact-Checking a 1947 British Weather Report

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In June of 1947, British Pathé visited brothers John and Dennis Bartlett, professional weather predictors who claimed to be "80 percent accurate" and to have known all about the famously cold winter of 1947. Here, they are enlisted to find Britain's "proverbial one-week summer."

There's something decidingly un-British about their cockiness, but mamma Bartlett didn't raise any fools.

Or did she?

You talk a big game, Bartlett brothers—but can you back it up? You're about to get fact-checked, 67 years into the future.

Bet you didn't see this coming, chaps.

July:

Bartlett Brothers Prediction: "The first week of July, thunderstorms. The middle two weeks, fine and sunny. Two thunderstorms. And the last week will be bright and fairly decent again."

Actual Weather: "July 1947—A rather warm month, with a cool spell 5th-11th; frequent, and at times severe, thunderstorms...Thunderstorms occurred rather frequently, mainly on the 1st, 8th-9th, 11th, 14th-19th, 22nd-23rd and 28th-29th. Those on the 15th-16th and 28th were widespread and severe locally." (Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office)

Those middle two weeks were anything but "fine and sunny," Bartlett bros. You blew it. I'm sure there are some sopping wet holiday-goers on Brighton Beach who'd like to have a word with you (assuming they are still alive, which is unlikely).

August:

Bartlett Brothers Prediction: "Well, it's going to be very very disappointing. Heavy downpours of rain. Thunderstorms. It's going to be typical for this month. I don't think it's going to be a very good month at all, August. Very disappointing. That's the best way to sum it up."

Actual Weather: "August 1947—An exceptionally hot, dry and sunny month....In England and Wales it was the driest August on record." (Monthly Weather Report of the Meteorological Office)

"The month was unprecedented (for fine weather) for over 75 years over practically the whole of the British Isles — only surpassed by August 1995." ('Weather,' February 2013)

It's easy to sit in a sunny meadow and draw ovals on maps for the camera, Bartlett bros., but when the storm of truth comes rolling in, it rains all over your parade. Doubt you brought an umbrella. Sorry to steal your thunder. When it rains it pours, huh? Maybe you should've kept your heads out of the clouds. And so on and so forth.

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Drought Reveals Ancient Sites in Scotland That Can Only Be Spotted From the Air
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iStock

Typically rainy Scotland is in the middle of an unusually dry summer—and local archaeologists are taking advantage of it. As the BBC reports, the drought has revealed ancient sites, including Roman camps and Iron Age graves, that have been hidden by farm soil for years.

Historic Environment Scotland has been conducting aerial surveys of the country's landscape since the 1930s, but it's in seasons like this, when the crops recede during dry weather, that the buried remains of ancient structures are easiest to spot. Conditions this summer have been the best since 1976 for documenting archaeological sites from the sky.

Aerial view of field.
Historic Environment Scotland

The crescent-shaped crop mark in the photo above indicates a souterrain, or underground passageway, that was built in the Scottish Borders during the Iron Age. The surveyors also found remains of a Roman temporary camp, marked by straight lines in the landscape, built in modern-day Lyne—an area south of Edinburgh already known to have housed a complex of Roman camps and forts.

Aerial view of field.
Historic Environment Scotland

In the image below you'll see four small ditches—three circles and one square—that were likely used as burial sites during the Iron Age. When crops are planted over an ancient ditch, they have more water and nutrients to feed on, which helps them grow taller and greener. Such crops are especially visible during a drought when the surrounding vegetation is sparse and brown.

Aerial view of field.
Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland has a team of aerial surveyors trained to spot the clues: To date, they've discovered more than 9000 archaeological sites from the air. HSE plans to continue scoping out new areas of interest as long as the dry spell lasts.

It's not just in Scotland that long-hidden settlements are coming to light: similar aerial surveys in Wales are finding them too.

[h/t BBC]

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Heatwaves Can Affect Your Ability to Think Clearly and Make Decisions
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iStock

Dehydration and body odor aren't the only things to hate about oppressive heat. According to new research reported by The Guardian, living through a heatwave without relief hampers your ability to think quickly and clearly.

For their study, published recently in PLOS Medicine, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health tested the mental performance of 44 students during a heatwave in Boston in 2016. Roughly half the students were living in newer dorm buildings with central AC, with the other half living in older dorms without it.

Over 12 days, researchers had participants take cognition tests on their phones immediately after waking up. The students living without AC took about 13 percent longer to respond to the questions and their answers were about 13 percent less accurate.

The results indicate that even if high temperatures don't pose an immediate threat to someone's health, they can impair them in other ways. “Most of the research on the health effects of heat has been done in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, creating the perception that the general population is not at risk from heat waves,” Jose Guillermo Cedeño-Laurent, research fellow at Harvard Chan School and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Knowing what the risks are across different populations is critical considering that in many cities, such as Boston, the number of heat waves is projected to increase due to climate change.”

Summers are gradually becoming hotter and longer in Boston—a trend that can be observed throughout most of the rest of the world thanks to the rising temperatures caused by human activity. In regions with historically cold winters, like New England, many buildings, including Harvard's oldest dorms, are built to retain heat, which can extend the negative effects of a heat wave even as the weather outside starts to cool. If temperatures continue to rise, we'll have to make a greater effort to keep people cool indoors, where American adults spend 90 percent of their time.

Our thinking isn't the only thing that suffers in the stifling heat. A study published last year found that hot weather does indeed make you crankier—which may not be as bad as bombing a test, but it's not exactly not fun for the people around you.

[h/t The Guardian]

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