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It pays to know

1 July 2010

The Met Office is a vital part of British life. On duty 24 hours a day, providing essential services to protect people and property at home and abroad, ultimately delivering exceptional value for money.

For over 150 years we've pioneered the science that makes today's advanced weather and climate forecasting possible. Today, however, we all live in an increasingly challenging climate both in terms of the weather and the economy. We provide real value for money to the taxpayer.

value for money In fact, for every £1.40 invested in our Public Weather Service, there is a £10 return. In 2008/9 we produced a £17.2 million dividend for the Ministry of Defence. Here, we take a look at some of the ways we've played our vital role over the past year.

The UK experiences some of the most variable weather in the world, recently suffering several extreme events. Across the nation, people's lives were affected by the harshest winter for more than 30 years and floods in Scotland, Durham and Cumbria. Our forecasts of heavy rain in November and snowfall in January made these events easier to deal with.

Natural hazards

Damage caused by natural hazards is predicted to increase to £2.25 billion per year by 2040 60, compared to £1.5 billion today. We already use the latest techniques and technology to deliver our warnings, and efficiency savings. Science forms the foundation of our role as a national weather service, the climate advice we provide, and our applications used to tackle environmental hazards.

We support emergency services, public health organisations, local councils and other public bodies. Health forecasts let people know when, and where, there is a risk of illness so they can take action quickly. Our Public Weather Service Advisors are always on hand to help people make crucial decisions. We also manage RIMNET, the national radiation monitoring network and emergency response system, in partnership with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

We help to tackle inefficiency by pooling key public sector resources. For example, our support to the Emergency Response community has been enhanced with our new Hazard Manager web portal providing access to a variety of services in one location.

Supporting role

The Met Office Mobile Met Unit (MMU) supports UK and allied forces helping to keep people safe and provide a tactical advantage where possible. Our dust forecasts can have a significant impact on military operations particularly in environments like Afghanistan. This year we set up a Joint Operational Meteorological and Oceanographic Centre (JOMOC) with the Royal Navy to further support the Armed Forces. We've also secured a contract to provide a weather visualisation system to the Air Force Weather Agency, the lead weather centre of the United States Air Force.

All over the world, we're helping people prepare for climate change. Together with the World Meteorological Organization and partners like the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we work with national weather services in climate vulnerable countries, helping prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

The Met Office is essential, offering real value for money. Delivering tens of thousands of forecasts to millions of people every day on TV, on radio, on line and on the move. We're proud to protect lives and national infrastructure. It really does pay to know.

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