Something for all seasons

Something for all seasons

18 July 2012

Looking back over the year, the Met Office has adapted to the changes and risen to the challenges presented by each season, says Chief Executive, John Hirst.

John Hirst, Met Office Chief Executive

Once again, 2012 is a busy year for us with big events such as The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and the London 2012 Olympics.

However, while we concentrate on delivering day to day as the challenges emerge, it's important to stop and reflect on the last 12 months, so Barometer covers some of the highlights of 2011/12.

The range of features in this issue is a reminder that our customers are as diverse as the weather we forecast. Weather is always inspiring and at the Met Office we embrace the variety each season brings. While we're helping people in the UK with our pollen and UV forecasts our work also benefits people all over the world as we support countries in understanding their sensitivity to weather and climate (read a round-up of our international activities).

Following a long, successful relationship with the Ministry of Defence, the benefits of our move to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) are already apparent. Our close relationships with the BIS family and other partners are helping to combine advice and alerts for a range of natural hazards. Virginia Murray, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at the Health Protection Agency describes the formation of the Natural Hazards Partnership, of which the Met Office is a leading member.

Our high-profile work continues to be reported in the media with several notable Met Office contributions to TV programmes over the past year. Life at the Met Office is never dull as each day brings a changing view. Some of the most critical forecasting challenges of the year were during winter when we provided consistent and reliable guidance throughout. At Heathrow airport, for example, our on-site weather forecaster helped BAA consider the implications of our snow warning, made 24 hours in advance with pinpoint accuracy. In addition to Heathrow, we have on-site specialist forecasters at a variety of locations.

The world-renowned Met Office Hadley Centre continues its groundbreaking research into climate variability and change. Extended contracts with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) recognise our unique climate expertise. One example of this is the pioneering research into the links between industrial pollution, Atlantic sea-surface temperatures and natural disasters.

Upgrades to our supercomputer make it possible to use the state-of-the-art climate models required for this type of research. We make extensive use of technology of all kinds, including satellites which enable us to monitor weather and climate from space. We also use technology to help us communicate more effectively.

This year, the Met Office was named in the top 10 UK social brands and number one in the services sector. Our website has been updated as we have introduced improvements that our visitors have asked for.

Seasons change and so does the Met Office. As we evolve - contributing to economic growth, informing Government policies and following many other opportunities - it's important that we maintain our core science capabilities. Equally, developments must not cost the earth, so we remain true to our responsibility to carry out our work in a sustainable way.

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