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Making science accessible

1 August 2011

From scientists communicating their latest research at international conferences, to local community events or broadcasting national TV weather forecasts — communicating our science is vital.

The Met Office is based on scientific excellence but, crucially, the understanding of our work depends on how well we communicate. That's why we're set on communicating in a clear and inspiring way using simple language to help millions of people make the most of our advice every day.

We're continually improving our communication, using a variety of methods to reach diverse audiences. We've improved our website with new content and functionally. Recent enhancements to the National Severe Weather Warning Service make our warnings even more useful. Clearer web pages make multiple warnings easier to understand by using symbols for different weather elements.

Dee Cotgrove, Head of Communications, says: "Our commitment to making our weather forecasts widely available continues with new media innovations such as our free phone apps, including the iPhoneapp." Not only that, the Met Office now has its own News blog, YouTube channel and Facebook page to share our latest news and science features.

"Communicating climate and weather science is challenging and we have embarked on a programme to explain the fundamental building blocks of our work - from information on our global weather-watching systems to simple guides about our delicately balanced climate system," Dee explains. "We've reached new audiences through partnering and collaborations. For instance, we worked with the Science Museum to create a new interactive climate change exhibition, 'Atmosphere'."

As the lead science advisor for Climate Week in March we provided guidance on the facts of climate change, including videos explaining the climate system. Part of our contribution to the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project involved answering people's questions about weather and climate on the OPAL website.

"Working with ambassadors from scientific and non-scientific backgrounds helps make science accessible to a range of audiences," says Dee. Recent examples include geologist and TV presenter Dr Iain Stewart and comedian Ben Miller. Dee continues, "We worked with Ben to install a Met Office weather station to help answer a deceptively simple question; what is one degree of temperature?"

The future of the Met Office is bound to involve new and often complicated science, but we're sure to seek out ways to increase access to that science. We'll continue to do our best to communicate as clearly as possible to make a difference to people's lives - helping people make the most of the weather.

150 years of forecasting for the nation

  • This year marks the 150th anniversary of public weather forecasting.
  • The first ever public weather forecast was published in The Times in 1861.
  •  Forecasts were broadcast for the first time on BBC radio in 1922.

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