The best way forward
Rob Varley, Met Office Chief Executive, describes how working at the forefront of weather and climate science doesn't mean working in isolation.
Just like the weather, our work is on a global scale. It is clear that the world faces some tough challenges as the changing climate adds to the pressures on our fragile planet and increases the risk of extreme and dangerous weather.
These unprecedented environmental risks are intensified by increasing population, urbanisation and our reliance on interconnected, but environmentally vulnerable, technologies - escalating the demand for accurate meteorological information. There is now growing recognition that the reality of climate change requires solutions that help us to adapt to the changing environment and mitigate its impacts, with a particular focus around the world on disaster risk reduction.
No individual, organisation or nation can address these challenges alone - we need to bring together skills and expertise from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives. So at the Met Office we are working with a widening network of partners both in the UK and around the world in collaboration and knowledge sharing.
We are building multi-disciplinary partnerships with a goal of providing more contextualised, more relevant and more useful services. For example, our recently opened Space Weather Operations Centre at Exeter is a partnership with a range of expert collaborators. These include US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, British Geological Survey, British Antarctic Survey, Finnish Met Institute, UK Space Agency, South African Space Agency, Airbus and several universities, building together the knowledge and capability to forecast space weather for the UK. This work crosses scientific and sectoral boundaries to deliver the kind of innovative service that our modern, interconnected world depends on.
Another example of collaborative working on an international scale is our work with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Typhoon Haiyan, which affected the Philippines in 2013, was one of the strongest ever recorded. Over 6,000 people died when winds reached 195 mph and a storm surge topped 6 m. This was despite the fact that global weather forecast models identified the likely track of the developing tropical cyclone as it developed into a typhoon over a week beforehand.
Our collaboration has helped PAGASA improved its warnings and deliver a more consistent communication of dangerous weather conditions to the Philippine Government and population, ultimately helping to save lives.
These are exciting times. To help people stay safe, well and prosperous, we rely on world-leading science from leading institutions in the UK and abroad. Building strong and productive partnerships is enabling us to address the very real challenges we face, as well as making the most of the opportunities offered by our developing scientific and technical expertise, bringing rich, varied and real benefits. Through such partnerships we multiply the benefits, and inspire others to join us in this global endeavour. By sharing expertise we can achieve far more than we ever will working in isolation, so maximising the benefits meteorology can bring.