National database of atmospheric and weather data tops 10,000 users

Posted on September 6, 2007 (Last modified on October 19, 2023) • 4 min read • 781 words
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News Release - Monday 3rd September 2007
A scientist studying amphibians is the ten thousandth user to access a national database of weather and atmospheric measurements. Kerry Murton from Cardiff University’s Llysdinam Field Centre has been investigating the affect of climate change on the timing of events in the lifecycle of newts. Kerry is using data from the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC) at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.
Kerry Murton checking pitfall traps
Phenology is the timing of events in the life cycle, eg migration or breeding, and in the amphibian life cycle phenology it is largely driven by factors such as moisture and temperature. For her PhD Kerry is conducting a site-specific study at Llysdinam Pond on newt migration, courtship behaviour, egg laying and larval development. She is also contributing to a long term dataset on newt movements to and from the pond. Newt migrations at Llysdinam have been monitored since 1980 when the pond was encircled with a drift fence and pitfall traps enabling daily monitoring of the numbers of newts entering and exiting the pond.
A male smooth newt
Kerry will be accessing the BADC to get the UK’s Meteorological Office rainfall and temperature data for her local weather station which was established at Llysdinam, mid Wales, in 1988. The weather data will be matched to the records of newly metamorphosed juvenile newts, ’efts’ leaving the pond annually. One aim is to investigate how the number of ’efts’ leaving the pond over the past 26 years varies with recorded temperature and rainfall data to determine which conditions are more favourable to them. In addition, newt courtship surveys and egg laying data will be analysed against the weather data. Torchlight surveys for the newt courtship dance were carried out regularly each week and data on newt egg laying over the season were collected.
A juvenile newt ‘eft’ on hand Previous research on adult newt migrations to the pond found a change in the timing of arrival over the years. Milder spring temperatures have resulted in first arrival dates being five weeks earlier than in the 1980s, with male palmate newts arriving increasingly earlier than the other groups. Kerry said, “In my research I aim to find out what the consequences of this earlier arrival are for courtship timing and egg laying and ultimately breeding success. The ability of animals and plants to adapt to climate change will have a large impact on the biodiversity of the UK”.
The number of adult newts breeding at the pond varies annually, with between 1500 and 3500 newts arriving at the pond each year. The project focuses on palmate newts Triturus helveticus and smooth newts T. vulgaris, although small populations of great crested newts T. cristatus, common toads Bufo bufo and common frogs Rana temporaria also breed at the pond. Although the smooth newt is more widely distributed in the UK, the smaller palmate newt is more common in Wales and makes up 75% of the population at Llysdinam pond.



The BADC, hosted by STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire, is the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) designated data centre for atmospheric sciences, and is part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. It holds many atmospheric datasets totalling more than a 100 Terabytes of data in over 80 million files, from a variety of sources, including satellites, balloons, aircraft, computer models of the atmosphere and ground-based instruments. The data are accessible free to non-commercial research projects through the BADC website.
Dr Sam Pepler, who manages the Data Centre at RAL says, “We have many users researching a diverse range of subjects including climate change and its impact on ecology and water resources, through to medical research and social issues, like housing. NERC values the data it produces and ensures that access is provided to as many different researchers as possible and that the data is kept for posterity.”
The role of the BADC is to assist UK atmospheric researchers to locate, access and interpret atmospheric data and to ensure the long-term integrity of atmospheric data produced by NERC projects.
The BADC is part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS). NCAS is a NERC established collaborative centre, which supports the national capability in atmospheric science research.
Further information from :
Dr Sam Pepler, BADC manager, RAL, Tel: 01235 44 6538
Miss Kerry Murton - Llysdinam Field Centre, (part of the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University)

Tel: + 44 (0)1597 860308 Website Mrs Natalie Bealing, STFC Press Officer, Tel: 01235 44 6482 Web address giving information about the BADC databases:, Email |

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