Outreach and Communication
This site provides a compilation of projects that explore new ways to communicate the science and its consequences to the general public.
“Come Rain or Shine”: Online course
The Royal Meteorological Society partnered with the University of Reading to develop this three week course which focusses on the processes and phenomena which govern UK weather. The content of the course was developed with the needs of UK secondary geography teachers in mind, however the course was open and very much of interest to all.
The free online course, available via FutureLearn, was created with the aim of training geography teachers in basic weather and climate processes, in order to teach their pupils the national curriculum. Since it launched in 2016 it has been taken by more than 23,000 members of the public, including students and teachers who have left comments online stating how useful it has been as a resource in the classroom.
Come Rain or Shine covers topics like weather charts, the physical processes that cause weather and how to use weather measuring equipment. Course content includes videos, fieldwork activities and other practical exercises, written by Dr Peter Inness from the University’s Department of Meteorology, and Dr Sylvia Knight, Head of Education at the Royal Meteorological Society.
The free course runs about three times each year. It requires around three hours of flexible study time per week over a three-week period, or longer if required. It is supported by Ph.D Meteorology students at the University, who provide online mentoring to participants.
FutureLearn is a leading Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform delivering online learning to participants around the world, free of charge. Running a course on this platform has been a key way for the University to engage new and harder-to-reach audiences, and to develop course content that is interactive and engaging.
Online information on the course
- The trailer for the course can be viewed at
- Come Rain or Shine https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/come-rain-or-shine/
The online course Come Rain or Shine has been selected to receive the EMS Outreach and Communication Award in 2018 for its outstanding outreach and sustainability.
The Magazine ”Vejret” from the Danish Meteorological Society (DaMS)
“Vejret” has existed since 1979, but has constantly renewed itself in the pursuit of promoting the understanding of the weather, climate and meteorology among the broader population. “Vejret” is the main reason for the popularity of the Danish Meteorological Society, which has one of the highest membership numbers, relative to the size of the population, in Europe.
The Chief editor, John Cappelen, and the editorial staff on one hand ensure that articles from experts are edited so that they are readable also to the many non-experts in the society; on the other hand articles from everyday weather enthusiasts are edited to ensure that they are scientifically correct. The maintenance of this balance is what ensures the popularity of the magazine.
- Vejret home page: http://dams.dk/vejret/index.html
Le train du climat & ses messagers
Taking place on the eve of the Paris accord negotiations in 2015, the project “Le train du climat” has been very successful and has met its main goal, which was to advance climate literacy and to contribute to science-based policy making and individual actions, by raising public awareness and delivering a nationwide message about climate change.
The exhibition has been built as a narrative story using a combination of state of the art outreach methods to educate the public. On its 3-week journey around France and 19 stopover cities in total, the train reached 23,000 people plus ~3000 school children and ~1000 decision makers and elected representatives. It also received an extensive coverage in media, which included TV, radio and news papers.
The idea of a train-based outreach tool for climate has been taken up in 2016 by Morocco for COP22 in Marrakesh and a new edition of Le train du climat is planned in France again in 2017-2019 with a special focus on solutions at regional scale.
Co-initiators of the project
The project was collectively devised by Christophe Cassou, Research scientist at CNRS/Cerfacs (Centre National de Recherche Scientifique), Catherine Jeandel, Research Director at CNRS, Beatrice Korc, a free-lance editorial manager, and Serge Planton, a Climate Researcher at Météo-France. 42 scientists of very diverse expertise from 13 different institutes were on board. The project was strongly supported by SNCF, the French National Railway Company, and Train-Expos, its subsidiary, together with the ministries of Education & Research and Ecology (all photos by “Messagers du Climat”).
A very detailed account of the project from its first ideas to the practicalities of its implementation, its achievements and lessons as a building process along its journey, the wealth of other activities that had been instigated on its way through France, is given in the proposal that was submitted for the EMS Outreach & Communication Award:
“Le train du climat” has been selected to receive the award for its very innovative and original concept to develop an exhibition on a train, as a catalyst for discussion and debate about climate change issues, between scientists and cultural mediators present on board and general public.
Budding sand sculptors were shown how to fashion elaborate structures from sand and water – creating a landscape with bridges, towers, factories and even stadiums. As they worked they reflected on what makes a healthy city, discussing with the scientists how the natural and built environments influence air quality and circulation and how this impacts our health.
Sandscape – links to further information:
The Sandscape project received an Honourable Mention for its innovative, clever, interactive and visually stimulating approach, which combines hands-on demonstrations, entertainment and plenty of fun in order to increase public interest and awareness.
Science Park of the Austrian Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics
The main aim of the Science Park of ZAMG is to offer a state-of the-art science communication (hands-on, minds-on) in the areas of weather, climate, environment and geophysics at ZAMG’s head quarter in Vienna and at the Customer Service Offices (Salzburg, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Graz).
The objectives of the concept include
- To address people of all ages, who visit the ZAMG with guided tours, or during special events;
- To motivate visitors to participate in ZAMG´s science projects that have a Citizen Science approach (e.g. severe weather, phenology and climate, change, reports of earthquakes, etc.);
- To encourage to reflect and discuss the connections between science and everyone´s life and the possibilities of interacting;
- To intertwine the official measurement sites and the route of the guided tours.
The Science Park at the ZAMG head quarters opened on 23 March 2015, World Meteorological Day; the Science Parks in Graz and Salzburg opened in 2016, also on World Meteorological Day (23 March 2016).
6000 people have visited the Science Park until mid-2016r, 4000 on giuded tours, 2000 during the Austrian “Night of Science”.
More information on the Science Park:
- Insights into the ZAMG Science Park: Short video on YouTube (duration 1:20 minutes)
- Album on flickr
- Article on the Opening and Concept of the Science Park (in German)
UK Festival of Weather, Arts and Music
Founded in 2012 by Pierrette Thomet Stott, the Festival of Weather, Arts and Music (WAM) has found new ways to communicate the beauty and fascination of meteorology thereby enhancing the understanding of weather and climate science by the general public in the United Kingdom. This outstanding initiative has broadened the reach of scientific meteorology, enabled the general public to engage with meteorology in novel ways and enhanced many people’s appreciation of its effects on our lives and the challenges involved in forecasting it. The list of innovative approaches combining arts and meteorology is long.
Since its foundation in 2012, WAM has held three very successful events. The first festival in 2012 saw about a thousand people take part in a wide variety of events in Reading Town Hall. These included a weather fair, music recitals, a Climate Change Question Time, an art exhibition, a weather clinic, and a recreation of Lewis Fry Richardson’s Forecast Factory.
Pierrette Thomet Stott, the WAM Director, said: “I am absolutely delighted to find WAM has found this recognition in European circles, and I am deeply honoured by this award.”
About Pierrette Thomet Stott: She holds a BA in Music from the University of Reading and a Diploma in Operatic Performance from the University of London. She trained as a mezzo-soprano and has performed in Great Britain and abroad as a recitalist and oratorio soloist as well as having many years’ experience teaching singing. In 2011 Pierrette devised the idea for a festival bringing together the arts and meteorology/climate science, to promote Reading as a centre of excellence in both fields and explore the possibilities inherent in bringing these different disciplines to interact. Since the first WAM Festival she has led the development of WAM through the RMetS WAM Special Interest Group, which she chairs.
More information on WAM events:
Trusted Spotter Network Austria
TSN-Trusted Spotter Network Austria (www.zamg.ac.at/tsn) was established to build up a reliable network between spotters (chasers), operational forecasters and scientists. TSN in its current state constitutes the collaboration between the Austrian meteorological service ZAMG (www.zamg.ac.at), SKYWARN AUSTRIA including its various partner organisations and the European Severe Storms Laboratory ESSL with its European Severe Weather Database ESWD. METEOPICS as a further network partner (www.meteopics.eu) provides a public forum for images of severe weather and damage surveys.
In principle, a “trusted spotter” reports significant or severe weather and consecutive damages. The technical solution is constructed around a server as Single Point of Contact to distribute reports according to the needs of different collaborators of SKYWARN. The reports are displayed for ZAMG forecasters in nearly real time via the ESWD platform, and are also accessible for the open public, respectively.
Basically, the Trusted Spotter Network is also open for other spotter groups, organisations and individuals willing to contribute reports within the framework.
With TSN the reliability of the information for operational forecasters has been improved significantly. ZAMG offers an individual training program, regular workshops as well as constant professional and scientific support.
In this respect, TSN seems to be unique among European national weather services.
One branch of the individual training consists of job-shadowing, which is obligatory at least once for each individual TSN member. This part is provided personally by forecasters of every regional centre of ZAMG in Austria and follows a standardised procedure. Here, the focus concentrates on the understanding and practical application of the respective event types according to the ESWD standards.
The second part of the training is the individual attendance of the annual workshop which is usually held at ZAMG Vienna during the early months of the year. In addition to scientific presentations by ZAMG staff, all participants are given the opportunity to present their own case studies and discuss meteorological phenomena in detail. This workshop is also open for a larger group of interested persons outside of the network who wish to contribute to the scientific discussion.
Milestones and summary
The role of TSN Austria is unique among similar cooperations in Europe; no other weather service takes such comprehensive steps regarding training, support and cooperation with spotter organisations. All regional centers of ZAMG are involved in the training and scientific support of spotters and chasers. TSN provides retraceable, documented reports with high quality clearance (tsn.meteopics, ESWD).
Thoroughly quality controlled reports of severe weather cases are available to weather services, scientists and the interested community in near real time.
Beneficiaries from the TSN activity:
- The Austrian Weather Service ZAMG with all its regional centers, forecasting, warning, climatology and science,
- The general public via more reliable and “just in time” severe weather reports and warnings,
- Austrian civil authorities, disaster management and the Austrian aviation weather service,
- The ESWD data base,
- European insurance companies,
- Public media, and
- last but not least, the spotter organisation SKYWARN via expert support and attendance from its partners.
The TSN network provides a win-win scenario for all involved partners:
The spotters and chasers receive intensified scientific and technical support to improve their knowledge.
The forecasters benefit directly from the real time information about hazardous weather situations and are able to refine forecasts and warnings, respectively. Also the continuous discussion and feedback process with individual spotters is valuable and informative for forecasters and improves their awareness.
The activity of the spotters can be instantly distributed to the public via different kinds of media.
The ESWD database and therefore the scientific community are benefiting from reports with higher reliability and quality standards.
TSN could be a European role model for other weather services either to establish or to intensify their respective dialog and engagement with national spotter organisations. ESSL/ESWD recommends this model to other European partners.
The number of spotters in Austria is growing at a continuous rate which results in higher spatial density of potential extreme weather observers. Cuts in budget among all European national weather services bring new weight on additional “cloud” information retrieval from weather amateurs and semi-professional spotter groups. In this respect the network represents a huge advantage for ZAMG and the general public.
The aim of such an intense collaboration could be a consistent coverage of severe weather reports with a comprehensible quality control and standardised criteria. This information is already publicly available to everyone via the open database ESWD.
In this respect a clear scientific analysis of the trend of the occurrence of severe and catastrophic weather events lies a bit more within reach.
For example: First investigations show that all (100%) strong precipitation events of the last four years in Austria have been identified and reported by the Trusted Spotter Network and are on display on ESWD. Hit rates for other meteorological parameters like hail or downbursts are constantly rising.
Media Clippings ARTE (French, German): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MwX5_o4wss
“Turbulence” Programme on ?eská televize
This project is essentially about outreach and communication. Engaging meteorologists/weather presenters and communicating weather and climate issues through TV programmes is particularly powerful. This approach has the potential to really reach an wide spectrum of ages and education levels of the population, and it had quite a broad audience.
The programme communicates weather, weather phenomena, climate and hydrology to the general public also explaining these phenomena; it therefore has the potential to educate a wide audience in a pleasant and attractive way, discussing and explaining the weather of the previous week around the world. The project then communicated further with the audience through a website and Facebook site that are currently still alive.
- The “Turbulence” Programme on ?eská televize won the EMS Outreach & Communication Award in 2014
The most recent findings which are currently lacking in the educational system like climate change, weather phenomena in the context of different parts of the world, the role of the ocean in the Earth’s current climate, hydrological cycle etc. were the main themes for which the programme received a rating of 1,5%, i.e.twice more than the mean of the news channel. The market share has reached 6,9 %. In a country where the climatescepticism is widespread, this was the only original television project, informing about the problems of weather and climate in an unbiased manner and it became quite popular among people.
“Personalities familiar to the viewers from television weather forecasts should explain the nature of the formation of phenomena and clarify the connection between phenomena.
Really specific is the editor communication with the audience. In addition to the normal procedures of correspondence and contacts through a specialised site: www.turbulencect.cz where viewers could put questions, suggestions and comments including pictures, a very active and individual communication through the social network Facebook was developed. The specialised page Turbulence became the basis for the successful weather site Po?así ?T (Weather in Czech Television) https://www.facebook.com/pocasict , which now has more than 17,000 supporters and is growing daily.”
The UK MetOffice STEM Outreach Programme
The UK MetOffice STEM Outreach Programme won the EMS Outreach & Communication Award 2014.
The Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programme is a very substantial and comprehensive outreach effort, sophisticated and ambitious. It uses many tools to reach out to both children and adults and communicates the joy of science, e.g. science camp, attendance at science fairs and last but not least with ambassadors. Some of the elements are also hands on, which is time consuming but can be so rewarding.
Particularly noteworthy also is the ‘open house’ experience where youngsters can meet the Met Office and sea and learn what is going on. The STEM Outreach Programme is great for building role models and putting a face on science, in addition to learning the science. This year’s World Meteorology Day theme was “Weather and Climate: Engaging Youth,” and the MetOffice’s STEM Outreach Programme is very relevant also from this point of view.
Delivery of our STEM Outreach programme is built into our Corporate Plan, with the number of STEM activities undertaken each year reflected as a business performance measure and a target we have exceeded in each year since its inclusion. We also evaluate the delivery of our major STEM activities, such as Met Office Science Camp. Our aim is that by the end of summer 2017, more than 1000 students will have attended a Met Office Science Camp and left us informed, inspired and just a little bit tired!
“Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are at the heart of the Met Office. Consequently, we are continually looking at ways to engage young people in the fascinating worlds of weather and climate. The Met Office STEM Outreach and Ambassador scheme is fully endorsed by the Met Office Executive Committee and staff are encouraged to deliver STEM activities within their day-to-day work. All of our 170+ Met Office STEM Ambassadors are registered on the national STEMNET scheme (www.stemnet.org.uk). By tapping into this existing scheme rather than administrating its own programme, the Met Office benefits from the mechanisms already in place to support Ambassadors – from the arrangement of the Disclosure and Barring Service checks; the training and other continuous professional development on offer; to contacts into schools and notification of national STEM events. As well as the extensive benefits to young people, STEM outreach gives staff volunteers huge satisfaction and pride, an effect that lasts beyond a given event, and an opportunity to get involved in something different to ‘the day job’.”
Meteoalarm.eu - alerting Europe for extreme weather
The meteoalarm.eu website was designed to make the European general public aware of severe weather across Europe and enable them to take mitigating action in the advent of dangerous or high impact weather.
- meteoalarm.eu won the EMS Outreach & Communication Award in 2008
Phenomena include strong winds, heavy rain, fog, forest fire risks, avalanches and storm surges. The meteoalarm concept is based on assessing impact and damage. Thus awareness levels are assigned in a coherent and consistent way all over Europe, down to the regional and departmental scale. For example a 10 cm snowfall event in the Low Countries will trigger an orange alert, while the same amount in Alpine regions will only cause a green or perhaps yellow awareness level. The National Weather Services coordinated in EUMETNET assemble their most detailed weather alerts on this platform. The warnings are available in 28 languages.
At its one-year anniversary on 23 March 2008, the site counted almost 3 million unique visitors, amounting to 500 million of hits.
“www.meteoalarm.eu informs successfully people worldwide about weather hazards in Europe because the system provides up to date information which is not to be found on any other platform. Targeted and well harmonized hazard information across Europe differs very much from general weather reports and helps to minimize risks for travellers and people working abroad. With a straightforward 4-level colour scheme hazards for 10 different hazard types are made very easily understood.” Michael Staudinger, ZAMG, Austria.
Ekstremværuka - One week of extreme weather information
The Extreme Weather Week is the most extensive popular scientific effort undertaken in Norway. In just one week, NRK broadcasts 125 TV programmes and more than 200 radio programmes focusing wholly or partially on weather and climate. The issue is also in focus on websites, teletext, WAP, DAB radio and jukebox TV during this period.
- The Extreme Weather Week won the EMS Outreach & Communication Award in 2008.
The project also spawned inniatives to actively involve schools and the general public; an outstanding example is the Rain Check.
Ekstremværuka is a co-operative effort by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research (Video, 140 MB).
The Extreme Weather Week contributed to increased awareness about an intriguing and important issue for society as a whole through a finely tuned mix of serious and entertaining programmes. Twinning the professional knowledge from scientists with journalistic skills and the distribution network helps meet the public need for sound knowledge about weather and climate.
“Climate change is one of the most important issues in our time. Through the Extreme weather week NRK has tried to contribute to a deeper understanding of what’s going on. The philosophy of the “Extreme weather week” has been based on the fact that most people have a need for new information on a subject they already know something about, like weather and climate. People have a lot of questions. Media can, in cooperation with scientists, contribute to give the audience more and better answers.
Our guidelines have been: Keep it simple, be creative and playful in the approach. Even if the perspectives might be depressive, don’t fall into depression. Give the audience a chance to take part in a process. Very often this will lead to a deeper understanding and a stronger commitment.“ Svein Haaland, Project Leader, NRK, Norway.
Saptamâna de vreme - Weekly weather
Saptamâna de vreme is a weekly weather and climate TV-show in Romania, the first and only one of its kind in this country. Since September 2005 it has been broadcast on the Realitatea TV news channel every Sunday at 6:45 pm for 30 minutes. The broadcast aims to communicate the science of meteorology, climatology and related phenomena in an appealing way to the general public. It also advises people on how to live in harmony with the weather and keep the environment clean and safe.
Emphasis is put on the most representative weather events in Romania or abroad, and the “secrets” of various meteorological phenomena are unveiled to the public. Answers to simple but important questions related to atmospheric phenomena are provided by two meteorologists and sometimes by invited specialists.
The rating of “Saptamâna de vreme” reached 2.6 while the TV news channel that broadcasts the show has an average of 0.7 rating points. The audience measurements show a market share over 3.5.
“Our guidelines are: the programme has to answer simple but important questions, the topics of discussion have to be closely related to actual and current weather and climate phenomena and should also include those aspects that are directly linked to everyday life, the issues – regardless of their complexity – should be approached in an easily understandable way, and discussions should be visually supported by images, pictures, movies, charts,etc.” Elena Cordoneanu and the Saptamâna de vreme team, Realitatea TV.
MeteoX.com - Weather information within a blink of the eye
The MeteoX.com website provides real time images of clouds, rain fall, temperature and wind directions. The aim of the MeteoX.com website is to allow end users, both private and professional, to obtain real-time European weather data for free, enabling end users to take informed decisions on what the current weather does mean for them on the short term.
Actual radar data as front-end of the website provide an easy access point for the general public, from which users are lead to forecast results of modern weather prediction systems. This appears to stimulate the use of forecasts in daily practices and to raise the general interest for weather forecasting as a science, resulting in a more motivated way of looking at weather and climate conditions.
In a short time MeteoX.com became the second-most visited weather information site in The Netherlands and is now expanding rapidly across the European continent. In Scandinavia, www.väderradar.se (i.e. Weatherradar) was launched.
“With the internet becoming more and more easily accessible for people, weather information can be provided locally and real time. On www.MeteoX.com you can see the “Here & Now” of the weather acoss Europe. This information is available within just 1 or 2 clicks which is one of the success factors of MeteoX.com. Another item contributing to this success is that all the real-time weather information is provided for free to the public.” Wijnand Rijkaart, Buienradar BV.
Meteo Weekend - weekly TV programme combining forecast and science
The mcombination of forecast and science is a good vehicle to educate the general public about the atmospheric science, the way to use the weather forecasts, and an open window towards several science fields and a good knowledge on the environment. The format is limited to a studio discussion and a graphic display of weather charts and graphs on a flat panel monitor in the TV studio. This programme represents a solid attempt to draw the awareness of the general public to the science behind weather forecasting.
The innovative content of such a programme is the combination of the scientific information on meteorology with a classical weather forecast. It also builds on the fact that weather forecasts, in particular on the weekends, raise considerable interest and warrant a large audience and a very good share, about 180.000/300.000 people every Friday evening and Saturday morning (Friuli Venezia Giulia has 1.200.000 inhabitants).
The viewer appreciates the completeness of the weather forecast for the region, the macro-region Triveneto and the neigbour countries of Slovenia and Carinthia, The selection of the weekly topic and its connection with the local territory, The high-qualified guests and the easy but effective speech used.
“In Italy Meteo Weekend is the only broadcast in prime time (start at 20.30 – lenght 30 minutes) completely dedicated to meteorological and climatological topics, a demonstration that people don’t watch TV only for entertainment but appreciate scientific and tecnical subjects.” Marco Virgilio, MeteoWeekend.
The magazine of theWeather Club, won the EMS Outreach & Communication Award in 2011.
theWeather Club, which launched in September 2010, is the public outreach arm of the UK’s Royal Meteorological Society. theWeather Club aims to inform and educate whilst also encouraging people to participate and pursue an interest in meteorology. To achieve these aims it is necessary to communicate the science of meteorology in a non-technical and interesting way.
theWeather Club’s charitable objectives are achieved by offering a series of membership benefits including the quarterly issue of a superb magazine, theWeather, a free Galileo thermometer, exclusive web access, and other discounts and collectables. The target audience is for anyone with an interest in the weather and the content is presented in a non-technical style.
One of the key membership benefits is a popular quarterly publication called theWeather. Its content reflects the many faces of the weather – its beauty, its power, its occasional absurdity and its fragility in the face of human activity. With an international news digest and a range of features covering areas as diverse as science, culture, sport, politics, food, gardening, leisure and history, theWeather magazine offers proof of just how deep and fundamental the influence of the weather is upon us all.
The magazine and website include regular news items; features on weather and climate; regular columns; and stunning photography. The content is written in a popular style to explain the science behind weather and climate. theWeather magazine is beautiful to look at, and with its thick, high grade, 100% recycled paper, has a pleasing feel to match its environmental credentials.
To complement theWeather, the website provides extra content and opportunities for members to participate in weather debates and discussions, join forums, post views, propose ideas, submit images and share weather observations.
theWeather presents a novel and exciting way of communicating the science of meteorology and its impact on society to a general public. It relates weather to common activities and subjects such as culture, sport, politics, food, gardening, leisure and history and in this way tackle the challenges to bring the science of meteorology into the realm of people’s daily life.
The timeliness and importance of the theWeather Club’s attempt to tackle the difficult subject of the interface between climate and weather can not be appreciated enough – this is a crucial issue in communicating climate change to any non-scientific audience.
The photographic material is impressive and creates interest and awareness in weather and climate topics, stimulating a broad audience to enjoy the known’s and unknown’s within the science of meteorology.
Mountain Wave Project
The MWP won the EMS Outreach & Communication Award in 2011.
Is it possible to fly a distance of 2.000km (i.e. Zurich – Casablanca) with a modern glider in one day only using atmospheric currents and updrafts? What role does the jet stream play, how strong is the turbulence and the vertical momentum transport in the stratosphere? The Mountain Wave Project (MWP), a non-profit initiative of the Scientific and Meteorological Section of the Organisation Scientifique et Technique Internationale du Vol à Voile (OSTIV) has been researching such topics for several years by studying aviation-relevant atmospheric flow patterns together with state-of-the art aviation weather forecasting and its application on high performance flying, as well as aviation safety in general.
The MWP being a scientific project focused on applications, deserves great merit for incorporating outreach activities as part of the project . The communication with the public uses a variety of different channels explaining the issues to a wider audience.
Through TV-features, radio broadcasts, publications, posters and numerous articles in the print media, the MWP regularly draws attention to atmospheric phenomena relevant for ozone depletion, momentum and pollution transport from the troposphere into the stratosphere, improvement of the parameterization schemes used in numerical weather and climate models, space weather and dispersion models.
The concept of the Mountain Wave Project TV-documentary “Rodeo in the Sky – research for greater flight safety” is thrilling, moving, and educational, a very original and unusual combination.