Friday, 30 May 2008

Bank Holiday Weather

If you were in the more Northern parts of the UK you probably enjoyed the sunny Bank Holiday weather, but not so for us southerners (sorry Dad I’m not betraying my northern roots), being bashed around by some truly dreadful wet and windy weather. Not being able to do any of the things we had planned for the long weekend, like the garden (so it is true that every cloud does have a silver lining!), I was searching around on the internet to see if I could find some information of weather observations for Bank Holidays – no luck.

With the help of John Prior, Head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre (NCIC), I did find this interesting site ‘’. If anyone has any interesting comments on the meteorology or perhaps interestingly a climatology of Bank Holidays then I’d be interested to hear about it.

By the way, keep an eye out for the analysis of May weather that will be issued next week by the NCIC. I suspect we are in for some interesting rainfall percentages across the UK.

What are the real benefits of being a member of the Society?

This week the Society launched its new project to look at both developing the benefits of Society Membership and to investigate whether we should look to broaden the opportunity for members with a more general interest in the weather to be able to have stronger links with the Society. There are some really interesting concepts in here about the future direction of the Society – but that’s for a later blog entry.

The starting point for our discussions at the Project Board was to review the current list of benefits. It’s the first time I’ve seen us list all of them in one place, and several things struck me. The first was how many we have. The second, which follows on almost immediately, was how bad we are at publicising all these. For example did you know that as a Member of the Society you are entitles to discounts on computer software, Wiley books and weather instruments from the Weather Shop if ordered through the Society.

The third thing that occurred to me was how many members we have that join the Society, not necessarily to take advantage of the personal benefits, but to support their professional and learned Society and the work it does for meteorology. Whilst they may not benefit directly certainly Meteorology does.

For instance our work with the Science Council and Government in improving the quality of curriculum resources that foster children’s interest in studying science that’s well taught in the classroom, helping to promote careers in science and funding programmes that help those scientist convert into meteorology, the development of professional qualification and accreditation schemes that drive up the standard in service provision and instrumentation, the contribution we make to groups like the UK Flight Safety Committee, and our work to support the policy work of Government and the Select Committees of Parliament, with some interesting work recently on the Climate Change Bill.

That’s only some of the work we do behind the scenes, and (although we can always be better at what we do) it reminded me of what a fantastic organisation the Society is, what influence it does carry and what an interesting and rewarding job I have.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Have you heard our regular weather slot on the radio?

For eight weeks now I have been contributing to a regular weekly weather discussion slot on BBC Radio Berkshire at 6.20 pm on a Wednesday evening.
I was a little apprehensive initially about making such a commitment, but so far I have enjoyed it and I hope managed to encourage (at least in small part) a greater general interest in something that has fascinated me for a lot of my life.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the tropical cyclone that had then just hit Burma, and the week before last Roger Brugge joined us from the Climatological Observers Link to give an interesting commentary on Berkshire weather. Last week we spoke about how mercury is being discontinued in thermometers. We got onto a bit of the history of thermometers and talked about the fact that the first thermometer was a water thermometer invented by Galileo – which a number of people have a modern-day version of in their house. You can see one in the picture.

One of the hardest parts of doing this is having to think of a new topic to talk about each week, so if you have any ideas please let me know – any suggestions would be gratefully received.

Climate change becomes fashionable

It is probably an odd entry to begin a blog with, but I wanted to say a few words about the ASBCI’s Annual Clothing and Textiles Conference which I gave a talk at last week. The conference is for those working across the fashion sector, from the chemists involved in developing new high tech textiles through buyers for high street stores to the designers.

The theme of their conference this year was the impact of weather and climate on the industry – and I gave a keynote talk on climate change and seasonal forecasting.

I was pleased to have taken the time to go. It is an audience that we would not normally connect with and as well as debunking some of the climate myths and misconceptions, it was also a valuable opportunity for me to profile the work of our .Corporate Member weather service providers within this important part of the retail sector. I had some very valuable discussions in the margins of the meeting, but what struck me most of all is how much is lacking from our knowledge of regional climate that is actually practically useful to such retail businesses who operate in global markets and supply chains