Journal / Journal /
Drax and Ferrybridge Making Clouds

Flying north from Heathrow to Stornoway (via Edinburgh) on Friday 20 January 2017, I was able to spot a plethora of local cloud features. It's all thanks to (a) the quasi-permanent high pressure and temperature inversion across the British Isles lately, and (b) humans.

Firstly, let's look and see what two of the biggest power stations in the UK are up to (from a viewing height of 32,000 feet):


Oh dear, it's looks like some stratocumulus or stratus undulatus pyrocumulugenitus!

Let's look more closely:


Drax is the bigger plant marked 'A' (with presumably a greater emission of water vapour); Ferrybridge is 'B'. Drax's cumulus thermal (pyrocumulus, as it is caused by an anthropogenic heat source) is so powerful, that when it hits the inversion, the cloud oscillates up-and-down downwind (north) in a wave train - that's the undulatus bit.

Now, let's consider the NASA Terra 721 satellite image of the same time. The Drax plume again is most apparent - I wonder if its total water vapour emissions are proportionate to the cloud liquid water extent across the north of England that day? There is surely a link, whether minor or major, as shown by Graham (2007) for the Energie Wasser Bern (EWB) incinerator in Bern Switzerland.



Graham, E. (2007). Clouds - Nature's Landscape? Montagsseminar, Institut Fuer Angwandte Physik, Universitaet Bern.