RMetS Impact of Science Conference 2017.

Email – j.f.talib@pgr.reading.ac.uk

“We aim to help people make better decisions than they would if we weren’t here”

Rob Varley CEO of Met Office

This week PhD students from the University of Reading attended the Royal Meteorological Society Impact of Science Conference for Students and Early Career Scientists. Approximately eighty scientists from across the UK and beyond gathered at the UK Met Office to learn new science, share their own work, and develop new communication skills.

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Across the two days students presented their work in either a poster or oral format. Jonathan Beverley, Lewis Blunn and I presented posters on our work, whilst Kaja Milczewska, Adam Bateson, Bethan Harris, Armenia Franco-Diaz and Sally Woodhouse gave oral presentations. Honourable mentions for their presentations were given to Bethan Harris and Sally Woodhouse who presented work on the energetics of atmospheric water vapour diffusion and the representation of mass transport over the Arctic in climate models (respectively). Both were invited to write an article for RMetS Weather Magazine (watch this space). Congratulations also to Jonathan Beverley for winning the conference’s photo competition!

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Jonathan Beverley’s Winning Photo.

Alongside student presentations, two keynote speaker sessions took place, with the latter of these sessions titled Science Communication: Lessons from the past, learning for future impact. Speakers in this session included Prof. Ellie Highwood (Professor of Climate Physics and Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at University of Reading), Chris Huhne (Co-chair of ET-index and former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change), Leo Hickman (editor for Carbon Brief) and Dr Amanda Maycock (NERC Independent Research Fellow and Associate Professor in Climate Dynamics, University of Leeds). Having a diverse range of speakers encouraged thought-provoking discussion and raised issues in science communication from many angles.

Prof. Ellie Highwood opened the session challenging us all to step beyond the typical methods of scientific communication. Try presenting your science without plots. Try presenting your work with no slides at all! You could step beyond the boundaries even more by creating interesting props (for example, the notorious climate change blanket). Next up Chris Huhne and Leo Hickman gave an overview of the political and media interactions with climate change science (respectively). The Brexit referendum, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord and the rise of the phrase “fake news” are some of the issues in a society “where trust in the experts is falling”. Finally, Dr Amanda Maycock presented a broad overview of influential science communicators from the past few centuries. Is science relying too heavily on celebrities for successful communication? Should the research community put more effort into scientific outreach?

Communication and collaboration became the two overarching themes of the conference, and conferences such as this one are a valuable way to develop these skills. Thank you to the Royal Meteorology Society and UK Met Office for hosting the conference and good luck to all the young scientists that we met over the two days.

#RMetSImpact

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Also thank you to NCAS for funding my conference registration and to all those who provided photos for this post.

Met Office Academic Partnership Poster and Presentation Session

Email: h.v.turner@pgr.reading.ac.uk

All photos courtesy of Carlo Cafaro

On 22nd and 23rd February, a group of students from the University of Reading visited the UK Met Office in Exeter to share our work and listen to talks from academics and Met Office employees. It was a great opportunity to discuss our work with other scientists from outside the university.

We arrived at the Met Office at 12 on the Wednesday. Once we had hung up our posters and had lunch, we listened to our first talk from Dale Barker, who is Deputy Director of Weather Science at the UK Met Office. He gave us an overview of the Met Office Academic Partnership (MOAP) and the variety of work that takes place within the partnership.  The MOAP brings together the UK Met Office with the universities of Exeter, Reading, Leeds, and Oxford to collaborate on projects and share science. It aims to pull together world-class expertise in weather and climate science to tackle key problems in these areas, and to provide an environment to develop the science leaders of tomorrow. The next talk was from Prof. Nadine Unger from the University of Exeter who spoke about aerosol pollution and work she has been involved in with African nations to reduce health problems caused by pollution. Our very own Dr Clare Watt then spoke about space weather, focusing on the magnetosphere and the impact of ‘killer’ electrons. The final talk of the day was from Dr Steven Böing from the University of Leeds. He spoke about semi-Lagrangian cloud modelling and how it can be used to increase forecast accuracy.

The poster session then took place in the Street. A lot of useful discussions were had during this session (and over the whole two days) as we were able to share our work with each other and also with passing members of Met Office staff. I certainly realized some new things about my results and had ideas about future directions for my work.

On the second day we had a presentation on career opportunities within the scientific areas of the Met Office from Mo Mylne, who is Science Project and Planning Manager at the UK Met Office. This really highlighted the breadth of roles that are available at the national meteorological service. This was followed by a talk from Prof. Coralia Cartis from the University of Oxford who spoke about parameter estimation for climate modelling using optimization techniques. After this, we were taken on tours of the Met Office to see some of areas that scientists are involved in. We then had lunch and a final opportunity to discuss our posters before the event finished.

Overall, then, it was a very enjoyable event with a great variety of subjects covered by the talks. I found the use of optimization techniques for parameter estimation particularly interesting and I hope to incorporate some of the ideas into my own research. I feel I have personally learned a lot, both about my own results and new ideas to consider. Thank you to all at the Met Office who organized the event.