Dr Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society

Society matters

4 November 2013

The British Meteorological Society was formed in 1850, becoming the Royal Meteorological Society in 1883. While the activities of the Society have grown and diversified, the focus on advancing the science of meteorology has stayed consistent since the early days.

Royal Meteorological Society With over 3,000 members across the globe, the Royal Meteorological Society is one of the world's largest organisations of its kind, and works tirelessly to promote meteorology and the understanding of weather and climate. "We get a lot of media exposure," explains the Society's new Chief Executive Liz Bentley, "Particularly when the weather is extreme and some of the tabloids are getting excited!"

The Society's dynamic website and social networking channels deliver news and information to people every day of the year, while its portfolio of journals and online newsletters caters for just about everyone - from the specialist scientist through to the general public.

Encouraging the next generation of meteorologists is particularly important to the Society. Every year, it loans meteorological instruments to schools for classroom activities and trains several hundred student primary teachers in how to bring meteorology into the classroom.

Thanks to its heritage and reputation, the Society is able to get the ear of public policymakers on weather and climate matters. It plays an international role too, working closely with the European Meteorological Society, the International Forum of Meteorological Societies and the World Meteorological Organization.

Promoting high quality science

The Society has strong links with academia and in recent years set up an annual meteorological conference specifically for students and young scientists. The conference gives students a platform for their own work, as well as the chance to network and meet potential future employers.

As the science of meteorology involves pooling knowledge from a wide range of fields, the Society is working with specialists from a growing range of disciplines. By bringing experts together, the Society is encouraging collaboration and disseminating knowledge on weather and climate matters to the wider community.

Working closely with the Met Office

The links between the Society and the Met Office are very strong and well developed. "I would define our relationship as complementary," explains Liz, "Both parties benefit from it and are respectively stronger in their roles as a result."

One example of how the two organisations work together is the Met Office's Weather Observations Website (WOW). Developed with support from the Royal Meteorological Society and the Department for Education, the site provides an online hub for UK weather observations, helping to educate people about weather and encourage growth in the UK's amateur weather observing community. The site hit 100 million observations in April this year.

The Society runs the RMetS Chartered Meteorologist (CMet) Scheme which is a professional chartership, like that available in other disciplines. Anyone who has an RMetS Fellowship, as well as the right type of academic qualifications and professional experience, can apply to become a Chartered Meteorologist. Met Office staff have applied for and gained CMet status. Applicants have to provide supporting evidence and references, and are interviewed by a panel of other professional meteorologists. The qualification is highly regarded and is a great credit to those who achieve it.

Another link between the two organisations comes from the fact that Rob Varley, the Met Office Operations and Services Director, is Vice President of the Royal Meteorological Society and a Chartered Meteorologist. "The Society is delighted to welcome Rob into this role," adds Liz.

A cultural custodian

The Society owns a number of historical artefacts and rare books, including valuable weather sketches and paintings. Some of them are cared for in the National Meteorological Archive at the Met Office.

From the personal papers of George James Symons, to original copies of the Beaufort Wind and Weather Scales, the Society holds some of the most important and fascinating documents in the history of meteorological science.

The seven strategic aims of the Society

Sharing enthusiasm with all

Through a range of activities to keep people interested in meteorology, involving everything from running successful websites such as theWeatherClub, to regularly informing public policymakers on, for example, climate and meteorological education issues.

Enhancing understanding and awareness

By getting across subjects and issues that matter in an understandable and approachable way.

Raising professional standards

By focusing on the standards for meteorological practitioners, ensuring they are rigorous, popular and aligned with the needs of employees and employers.

Promoting careers in meteorology

By helping people understand what a fascinating and important area of work meteorology is, and where the opportunities lie.

Advancing high-quality science

From running topical scientific meetings to publishing scientific journals, the Society is the custodian of meteorological science.

• Recognising excellence

Through annual awards, research and travel grants, and professional qualifications.

Informing evidence-based policy

By engaging with policymakers on issues such as climate change and its impacts, as well as communicating climate science and developing educational resources and teaching skills.

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