Scientists from across the Met Office have been recognised for their work at the Royal Meteorology Society Awards. In total 11 Met Office employees received awards at the ceremony held in London.

The award recipients were:

The L F Richardson Prize: Dr Kirsty Hanley, Met Office

The Adrian Gill Prize: Dr Michael J Bell, Met Office

The Innovation Award:      

Awarded to The Scottish Flood Forecasting Service, the team from the Met Office included:

Brian Golding, Clive Pierce, Nigel Roberts and Bruce Wright.

The Climate Science Communications Award: Professor Peter Stott, Met Office Hadley Centre

The Gordon Manley Weather Prize

Awarded to the ‘Global and regional climate series’ team, which included the following Met Office employees:

David Parker, John Kennedy, Colin Morice and Holly Titchner.

Dr Kirsty Hanley received the L F Richardson prize for a paper that she lead authored which compared observed statistics of convective clouds with models at km scales and higher resolution models down to a grid length of just 100m. This award recognises a meritorious paper which was published in a Society journal during the preceding four years and was contributed by a member of the Society who was in their early career in meteorology.

The Adrian Gill prize was awarded to Dr Michael Bell for playing a leading national and international role in the development of the new discipline of operational oceanography. Amongst other streams of work, Mike was the lead scientist in the development of the Met Office’s FOAM ocean forecasting system, one of the first systems of its kind. The prize is awarded annually to a member of the Society who has made a significant contribution in the preceding five years and who has also been an author of a paper in the Society’s journals.

@RMetS - Dr Bell

Dr Michael Bell receiving the Adrian Gill Prize. Photo: @RMetS

Four Met Office personnel that are part of the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service were recognised for their work on the ‘Surface Water Flood forecasting in Urban Communities’ project. They, along with their colleagues from SEPA, The James Hutton Institute, CEH Wallingford and CPAESS – UCAR, USA, received the Innovation Award which is based around innovation in meteorology, with a particular focus on business and/or public impact. It recognises people, projects or programmes within the academic, scientific or business communities who have made significant contributions to educating, informing or motivating organisations in their response to meteorological challenges.

Professor Peter Stott was awarded the Climate Science Communications Award for his work on the BBC programme ‘Climate Change: The Facts’. The programme featured Sir David Attenborough and as well as being interviewed for the programme Professor Stott assisted the BBC in their research. The Climate Science Communications Award is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions in the field of climate science and proactive outreach activities to communicate climate science. You can read more about Professor Stott’s career in his own words here.

@RMetS - Prof Stott

Professor Peter Stott receiving the Climate Science Communications award. Photo: @RMetS

The Society’s journal ‘Weather’ was first published in 1946 when Gordon Manley was President of the Society and the journal benefited from his encouragement. The Gordon Manley Prize is awarded annually for any outstanding contribution to Weather through furthering the public understanding of meteorology and oceanography. The Met Office Global and Regional Climate Series team received the prize and is made up of David Parker, John Kennedy, Colin Morice and Holly Titchner.

The full list of award recipients can be seen here: Free Shipping 4PCS 3mm Threaded Pull Rod with Aluminum Ball Ends Length 25 35 45 55 65 75 85 95 100 110 120 130 140mm M3 Rod 120mm

More information on the background behind each award can be seen here: 10k Yellow gold 2.7mm High Polish Curb Link Anklet

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In late February 2019, an historic climate event occurred. A flow of very warm southerly air (in conjunction with an area of high pressure) resulted in the first recorded occurrence of temperatures in excess of 20 °C during a UK winter season, reaching 21.2 °C at Kew Gardens.

This week delegates of the PlantNetwork charity’s annual conference will be gathering at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens to discuss the issues posed by climate change and how these will affect the nation’s gardens and designed landscapes.

The February warm spell created several issues for gardeners:

  • many garden plants emerged rapidly from their dormancy (only to be damaged by the frosts in April);
  • lawns required their first and second cuts much earlier than normal;
  • many gardeners needed to water their gardens.

Janet Manning, Water Management Specialist at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “Twitter was scattered with tweets from gardeners who felt the need to water their gardens for the first time ever in February,”

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Taro (Colocasia esculenta) – a tropical root vegetable from southern Asia – might become more widespread across southern Britain in future: it already grows well at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens cared for by curator Stephen Griffith (pictured).

Gardens have to endure drought, heavy rainfall and extremes of temperature. The types of plants grown in gardens and how gardens are designed and managed will need to change to take into account higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Key to all of this is translating the current climate projections to gardens around the country.

John Edmiston, of the nursery Tropical Britain, considers the types of plants we might be growing in a hotter, drier climate. He said: “Climate change will have a massive effect on British horticulture. Gardens will need to be more resilient to drought. The dominant style in British garden design has for many years focused on herbaceous perennials soaking up large quantities of water. As we move into a hotter drier future, many public gardens and garden designers will use more plants adapted to dry conditions, combining hardy desert species with drought-resistant perennials to create a new style. Fifty years from now, British gardens will look quite different.”

Dr Mark McCarthy is the head of the Met Office’s National Climate Information Centre. He said: “The UK climate is warming, increasing the likelihood of events such as those seen in February and last summer’s heatwave. The latest set of UK climate projections (UKCP18) show that extreme hot summers like 2018 or 1976, could be more frequent by the 2050s, and that our winters are very likely to be milder and wetter.”

Invasive potential

Introducing plants into gardens from around the world is not risk free. New pests and diseases have the potential to spread into the UK on a variety of plant material and in soils, particularly as the UK climate becomes more amenable to their survival. Tomos Jones, a PhD student at the University of Reading, has studied the invasive potential of many ornamental plants. Tomos said: “Climate change could allow more ornamentals to become invasive, as conditions become more suitable. Gardeners have an important role to play in preventing plant invasions, in their choice of plants to grow and in disposing of potentially invasive plants responsibly. Gardeners are on the ‘front line’ in identifying plants in their gardens showing ‘invasive characteristics.”

There are design challenges too. Heritage gardens often use a narrower range of plants than we now have available, but a changing climate might mean that these gardens and landscapes will need to find plants better able to survive rather than being true to the period of the garden. Water and soil management are crucial factors in horticulture and are vital in a changing climate.

Everyone can make a difference. But those small changes can really add up to a significant impact. As Janet Manning, added: “If the 27 million gardeners in the UK could save just one watering can full of mains tap water this summer, we would have saved enough water to supply Bristol, Leeds and Sheffield for a whole day, that’s significant and achievable.”

Simon Toomer, PlantNetwork Chair, said: “Now is the time for horticulture – an industry worth £24bn to the UK economy – to step forward and be part of the solution:, planting a tree is still one of the quickest, simplest and cheapest ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”

  • PlantNetwork is a charity supporting gardens, arboreta and other plant collections through training, networking and information exchange between gardens. This year’s major topic at the annual conference is “GT Spirit GT197 Miniature Collection Car Matte Grey”, professional gardeners from across Britain and Ireland will discuss how the sector can be better prepared for a changing climate.

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Sir David Attenborough looks at the science of and potential solutions to climate change in a new BBC Documentary (broadcast 9pm Thurs 18 April 2019). Met Office climate scientist Professor Peter Stott appears in the programme and also supported the BBC as they researched the facts.  Here he looks back at his career and how the science of climate change has developed.

When I arrived at the Met Office in 1996, it was an exciting time to be starting climate research. Scientists were beginning to identify the fingerprints of human activities on climate. I joined a team of researchers who showed that warming temperatures were being caused not by increasing solar activity or natural climate oscillations but by the rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. By the turn of the century, the conclusions of climate science were clear.  Substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would be needed to avoid the worst effects of a warming world. If this was not unexpected, being the inevitable result of basic physics, the new century brought a much more surprising revelation.

Whereas the large-scale climate trends panned out as climate models had predicted – with warming temperatures, melting ice and rising seas – I found the rapidly increasing toll of extreme weather startling and shocking. In August 2003 I travelled to Tuscany to celebrate my wedding anniversary in the hilltop town of San Gimignano. The heat that year was unprecedented. Temperatures reached 40 degrees for days on end. We could cope by keeping in the shade when the sun was up. But many others throughout Europe were not so lucky. More than 70,000 died from the heat, many of the fatalities being elderly vulnerable people unable to escape sweltering apartments in cities like Paris.

Returning home, I decided to investigate whether climate change could be implicated in this devastating event. My research, undertaken in collaboration with colleagues from Oxford University, showed that greenhouse gas emissions had more than doubled the risk of the extreme temperatures seen that summer

Ours was the first study to link climate change to a specific meteorological event. It showed that climate change was now no longer just a future threat, the threat was already here. It led me on to a whole new field of research, one that aims to help people cope better with heatwaves, floods and droughts by providing up-to-date information about the changing risks of such extreme weather.

While we can make efforts to adapt to our changing climate, the science shows this challenge becomes much harder if we don’t also take action to mitigate its effects by reducing our emissions of greenhouse gases. The Met Office Hadley Centre is heavily involved in providing policy relevant advice to the UK government. As part of that role, I have been to some of the major climate conferences where nations decide on collective action on climate, including last year’s COP meeting in Katowice, Poland.

There, I presented the latest data showing that the last 4 years were globally the warmest on record and I released Farmerly 1PCS Nordic Thick Sofa Cover Towel Cotton Twill Fabric Slip-Resistant Covers for Sofa Cushion Handmade Quilting Mats Home Decor 01 Sofa Towel 1PCS, 110x210cm 1pcs of the extreme record breaking temperatures of last summer across Europe). I also attended an event with Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who started a mass movement of school strikes on climate. I found it very inspiring to hear her speak so articulately. Thanks to her leadership, there is now a younger generation of citizens actively involved in promoting a more sustainable future.

More and more, I realise, we need to talk more about climate change; its causes, effects and solutions. That is why I was delighted to be asked to be involved in the BBC documentary, Climate Change: The Facts. It chimes with a growing interest I have in science communication. As part of my joint position at the University of Exeter, I lead a project called Mega Bloks Halo Collectors Case (Green Case). With a group of scientists from the Met Office and the University of Exeter, artists and local community groups, we have been writing poems, composing songs and making pictures to find new ways of talking about the work we do and connecting with wider audiences. Creating stories together has helped build new positive narratives about our changing climate.

Climate change is not an easy subject to talk about. Even though there are many possible ways to reduce our emissions it is still a challenging task. But like other difficult topics, talking about it helps. When we do, the future can look a whole lot more hopeful.

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Rain may not be the first thing you think about when reflecting on March 2019, but it was in fact the 5th wettest March on record for the UK as a whole.

Much of the rain fell during the first half of March and for many (except north west Scotland) there was a rather dry end to the month.  However, for the north and north-western areas of the UK, the rain in the first two weeks was enough to make the month overall very wet indeed.

Map shows March 2019 rainfall as a percentage of the 1981-2010 climatological average

Less than halfway through the month, Northern Ireland had already reached its average rainfall total, and by March 18th enough rain had fallen to make March 2019 the wettest March on record in NI.  A total 158.3mm of rain fell by the end of the month – two thirds more than the 95.1mm average, beating the previous wettest March record for NI from 1992 with 146.8mm.

It was the second wettest March on record for northwest England and North Wales with a total 192.3mm (182% of average) rain recorded, coming behind March 1981.

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With a mean UK temperature of 6.8 C (1.3 C above average), March 2019 provisionally comes in 10th for the warmest March on record.

Map shows March 2019 mean temperature as a percentage of the 1981-2010 climatological average

Towards the end of the month high pressure brought settled, dry and sunnier weather, compensating for the rather wet first half to the month and allowing sunshine hours to creep up, especially in east and southeast parts of the UK.

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Map shows March 2019 sunshine hours as a percentage of the 1981-2010 climatological average

Extreme weather elements for March 2019 in the UK
Element Value Site Date
Highest max 19.8C Kew Gardens (London) 30th
Highest min 11.0C Grangemouth (Stirlingshire) 21st
Lowest max 1.6C Salsburgh (Lanarkshire) 16th
Lowest min -6.9C Aboyne (Aberdeenshire) 5th
Highest daily rainfall 74.6mm Capel Curig (Gwynedd) 16th
Max gust 70kts Needles (Wight) 16th
Sunniest day 12.6hrs East Malling (Kent) 29th
Deepest snow depth 6cm Middleton (Derbyshire) & Mugdock Park (Stirlingshire) 10th & 11th