Ten surprising things about the Met Office
Solving crimes, television soaps and prime time celebrities might not be the first things that you associate with the Met Office, but you’d be surprised how many areas of life can be affected by the weather.
Most people know that the Met Office produce weather forecasts but here are some lesser known facts about us:
1. The Met Office can be linked to Charles Darwin
Before he founded the Met Office, Vice Admiral FitzRoy commanded the second voyage of HMS Beagle. The five year journey formed the basis for passenger Charles Darwin’s seminal work, ‘On the Origin of Species’.
2. The Met Office produced the world’s first ‘forecast’
Vice Admiral FitzRoy invented the words ‘forecast’ and ‘forecasting’ in 1861 as he felt that the current terms ‘foretelling’ and ‘prophesising’ were not scientific enough. This means that, technically, the Met Office produced the world’s first ‘forecast’.
3. Ant and Dec studied meteorology at the Met Office College
The Met Office College has seen over 3,000 meteorology students pass through its doors in its 75 years of operation. Notable alumni include Geordie television personalities, Ant and Dec, who were trained for their prime time show, ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’, in 2007, and Princes William and Harry who attended as part of their military training programmes in 2009.
4. The Met Office Headquarters has received architectural awards for innovation
The Met Office has had its headquarters in Exeter since 2003, and the building has been awarded for its technological innovation ever since. In 2004, the building won ‘Major Project of the Year’ and ‘Office Building of the Year’ at the Building Services Journal Awards. The building has also received a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, placing it within the top 10% of new non-domestic buildings in the UK for technological and environmental innovation.
5. The Met Office is one of the top companies in the UK for biodiversity
The Met Office is one of only 17 organisations in the UK to be awarded the Biodiversity Benchmark by the Wildlife Trust and is the first public sector organisation to meet the benchmark. Within the grounds of the office, more than 400 different species of plants and animals have been identified, something which staff want to increase even further over the coming years.
6. The Met Office helped to ensure the success of World War II
Met Office meteorologists influenced a decision to change the date of the crucial D-Day operation. After calculating that the moon and tide conditions would only be simultaneously favourable on the 5, 6 and 7 June, the meteorologists advised commanders to push back the operation from its originally anticipated date in May. This forecast was one of the most important in world history and was ultimately was responsible for the Allies’ success.
7. The Met Office also houses the National Meteorological Library and Archive
The Met Office HQ also houses the National Meterological Library and Archive, both of which are accessible to the general public (though for the archive, appointments must be made in advance). At the archive, you can view weather reports for the UK for every day since records began on the 3 September 1860. As you can take photographs of items, or photocopy items for a small cost, you could even give loved ones the forecast of their birthday as a thoughtful gift.
8. The Met Office helps the police solve crimes
The Met Office has provided expert witnesses for a number of court cases. Met Office staff have been asked to analyse weather conditions from crime scenes to investigate how features such as visibility and precipitation levels can affect the reliability of witness statements. Although the Met Office no longer offers a formal legal consultancy system, they continue to provide weather data to support claim validation procedures, and information to the police on how weather conditions can affect visibility and audibility.
9. The Met Office Hadley Centres is a world-leading centre for climate change research
The Met Office can boast one of the world’s leading climate change centres. The Hadley Centre conducts world-leading research into the effects of climate change and translates the scientific findings into Government policy advice.
10. The Met Office provides forecasts for popular television programmes... and much more!
The Met Office also provides advice about the effect of climate and weather to a large variety of other companies. The Met Office has received enquiries from popular television soap dramas asking when they should film if they are looking for certain weather conditions. They have also been contacted by the research and development team of a well known camera company to examine how long it would take for ink to dry out, as well as by professional sports teams looking into performance training as well as by individuals suspicious of their partner’s activities!