Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Dr Sylvia Knight Head of Education talks about her work on Monsoons

Every now and again I get to produce or commission a new resource for MetLink, (  our website for teachers. I try to target these to fill gaps in what is currently available. So, for a while we’ve been concentrating on producing resources which support fieldwork.

However, many teachers have told me that they struggle to find good resources for teaching monsoons, particularly at A level. So, this week I have been using data and information from a paper by Challinor et al. to produce a resource which gets students investigating whether there is a link between Indian rainfall and groundnut production.

As always, the challenge is to make a resource which is robust and not open to misinterpretation without oversimplifying things. This particular data set was brilliant, giving a clear answer which still left room for interpretation. Students should find that over 50% of the year to year variability in the harvest can be attributed to rainfall. Its been so interesting, that now I’m going to see whether I can find some daily rainfall data for stations in India, to see whether I can illustrate the spread of the monsoon rains across the continent…

The image below shows Mumbai during the monsoon


Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Dr Sylvia Knight - Head of Education

It’s the beginning of the new academic year, and my Inbox is full of requests from students for information about courses, careers and work experience, and from teachers and event organisers hoping for support from our Meteorology Ambassadors. A very positive development for this year is that we are trying to offer weather and climate training to as many geography PGCE students as possible, to give them confidence to teach it when they start their teaching careers. At the moment, we’ve got days booked with 14 Universities and hope to reach a few more. We’re also developing the support we give to primary teachers by working together with the Astra Zeneca Science Teaching Trust.

However, the most technologically exciting (and therefore challenging!) project that we’re involved with is the development of 3D classroom teaching resources, the sort where the students all wear funny glasses. We’ve been working on hurricane and weather systems resources in a consortium including schools, software developers and hardware suppliers and hope that they’ll be finished very soon – then we can start using them!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

I'm dreaming of a quiet Christmas!

This is Althea the RMetS Membership Secretary. It’s coming up to that time of year again when we send out the membership renewals, and the membership department, which is actually just me,  goes totally bonkers. I’m hoping that our new online payment system will mean that for the first autumn/winter season in many years I won’t have to put in so much overtime, and if anyone feels like paying their fees a bit early that would help enormously. The new payment system is up and running so why not go online to pay and see how easy it is to make a Membership Secretary happy Althea Howard

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Our new web site

Last week we launched our new web site at  It has been in development for several months now and was a complex piece of work.  This was mainly due to the fact that we completely redeveloped our events, news, membership and subscription renewal systems.  We have several different kinds of membership, ranging from student membership to Associate Fellow and Fellow.  We also accredit meteorologists and hold a register of these Chartered Meteolologists.

The site is built with the open-source system Drupal and we worked with external developers on this project.

Kathy Maxwell
Head of IT and Technical Services

A farewell to Paul Hardaker

After 25 years working in Meteorology I am moving to take up a new challenge in September as the Chief Executive if the Institute of Physics. Not such a big move if you consider that most meteorologists come from mathematics or physics, but nevertheless I am sure I shall miss being so centrally involved in the work of the Royal Meteorological Society. However, it will give me more of an opportunity to return to being an enthusiastic member, and hopefully more incentive to start contributing my weather observations from home (particularly my temperature obs) to the Weather Observations Website (WOW).

I am pleased that we have been able to complete the transition to our new website before I moved on from the Society. I has been good to see the new functionality that the site provides and the potential it has to become a very important way of delivering a range of information services to members and the wider public from the Society, not least, I hope, an active blog where members of the Headquarters team can keep people up-to-date with new and interesting news about the work of the Society.

The Society is very lucky to have such a dedicated HQ team and membership, and so I am sure that my successor will have as enjoyable and interesting time as I have had at Headquarters. Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement – and may we always be blessed with interesting weather.

Paul Hardaker Chief Executive

Monday, 2 August 2010

Our Next Generation of Well-qualified Meteorologists

The last few weeks have been busy with travelling around the UK, but interesting. A few weeks ago we held our Student Conference at the Met Office so our student community could join with the Met Office’s early career scientists. Having a fair proportion of our next generation of meteorologists in one room together was very enjoyable and I was extremely impressed by the work that they were presenting. They are certainly a talented bunch. The conference held a lively debate on the pros and cons of geo-engineering and it’s clear that they are not only talented but passionate about the future of meteorology and how it is applied to some of our more serious problems. I very much came away with the sense that our subject is in safe hands.

Last week I also chaired a meeting of the UK’s sector committee for meteorology – that’s the group who represent the practitioner community in the UK, and specifically the development of qualification standards for the profession. In includes the Society, the Royal Navy, the Met Office and the private sector. We spent our time focusing on the development of new vocational qualifications for meteorology. There is something called the Qualifications and Curriculum Framework in the UK which defines various levels of vocational qualifications and we spent our day mapping our standards into this new framework. It was very enjoyable to come together as a community to ensure all our forecasters in the UK have the opportunity to develop their skills and competencies through high-quality, independently-recognised vocational qualifications. What I am always impress by is that the members of the group, who have very busy workloads, give up their time freely and voluntarily to undertake this work for the good of the profession and its future development.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Week of Extremes

After another week of sunshine and showers I was reflecting on the fact that it’s not only our UK weather that changes from day-to-day, but that our weather the world over is so diverse. And last week was certainly a week of extremes. In South Dakota the record was broken for the largest recorded hailstone at a diameter of 8 inches, and weighing in at a massive 900 grams; that’s not far short of a bag of sugar – imagine that falling out of the sky. In Japan and Russian they have been suffering a severe heat wave with temperatures in excess of 35 deg C. On the other hand in southern Peru they have had very extreme cold weather, with temperatures as low as -24 deg C.