Nick Jobling

Sustained effort

1 August 2011

Through our imagination and expertise, we contribute to the worldwide sustainability agenda, observes Nick Jobling, Met Office Chief Financial Officer.

Barometer looks at some of our key successes of 2010/11 through with a strong theme of 'making science accessible'. Some highlights include our work as a leading advisor on weather and climate to governments, businesses and individuals which is central to promoting and contributing to international sustainability. The global nature of our activities, especially our climate science expertise, is essential to the international sustainability agenda.

However, we are also aware of our impact on a local level, so we're committed to meeting our objectives in a sustainable way - reducing our carbon emissions and acting in a positive manner in dealings with our staff, customers, suppliers and the wider community. This year, our efforts were recognised with a gold ranking in the Business in the Community (BITC) Corporate Responsibility Index. As a member of the South West Strategic Board of BITC, I was particularly interested to read about the Mayday Network.

The Met Office Board and Executive enjoy a range of useful and interesting scientific briefings delivered by Met Office experts. This requires presenters to pitch each briefing at the right level for Board members, many of which are non-scientists. In communicating our science it's important to focus on facts not opinions as Met Office Chief Scientist, Professor Julia Slingo emphasise. Our perceived integrity and reputation is based on scientific fact but it's important to use appropriate language to explain hugely complex science to people with non-scientific backgrounds like me.

Crucially we also work with individuals such as Professor Sir Brian Hoskins CBE who is a Non-Executive Director on the Met Office Board. As a weather and climate expert he can dig deep into the science to support and challenge the Met Office Executive team, as well as help to develop the long-term Met Office strategy.

Our long-term strategy, sustainability and ability to predict the weather and climate, depends on our supercomputer capability. This critical investment comes with financial, energy and carbon costs. We should not shy away from this fact and we are committed to minimising the costs through our drive and innovation. Through some fantastic, world leading work we have reduced our total supercomputer carbon emissions in 2010/11 despite this being the first full year of operating our new IBM machine. Our success in reducing the energy consumption of and carbon emissions from our supercomputer is just the start and we're certainly not out of ideas yet.

We consistently demonstrate our expert scientific capability. The value and relevance of our science relies on the range of research that takes place at the Met Office. It's exciting to think what the next steps might be. For example, the Met Office's recent move to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills offers new opportunities to develop even stronger links that will help us make the most of our world-leading environmental science.

It's important never to underestimate our role on the international stage, working alongside others, often when natural disasters strike. The science of forecasting tropical cyclones in the Atlantic is especially relevant and fascinating.

The breadth of our international activities is fascinating. For example, we are working as a consultant for the Rwanda Meteorological Service. Our work through the World Meteorological Organization's Voluntary Cooperation Programme helps to ensure that the global weather and climate community works together in a sustainable way.

In collaborating with such a wide variety of people, it's essential to have high profile ambassadors, like the comedian Ben Miller, who identify with our work, but it's equally important to regularly engage with people who may have a different view, in a balanced way. It's a sustained effort - in every sense.

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