Interview of the month: Hungarian Meteorological Society

Zoltan Dunkel, MMT President; (photo private)
Zoltan Dunkel, MMT President; (photo private)

Interview with the President of the Hungarian Meteorological Society (MMT), Zoltán Dunkel.

EMS LC: If you were to describe your society in one sentence, what would you say?

MMT: The Hungarian Meteorological Society is a non-profit scientific organisation for the study of meteorology, improving general education, disseminating meteorological knowledge, environmental awareness and sharing new scientific results with other meteorological societies in Europe and  worldwide.

EMS LC: When was MMT founded?

MMT: Our society was founded in 1925.

EMS LC: What are the objectives of MMT?

MMT: The MMT organizes scientific meetings and symposia, establishes permanent and ad hoc committees, maintains sections, co-operates with other institutions and international organizations, issues and edits meteorological publications, prepares meteorological studies and gives awards for outstanding meteorological activities.

EMS LC: Could you explain the structure of your membership?

MMT: The MMT has no professional staff. Its activities are maintained strictly by volunteers. The main body of the MMT is the General Assembly, which meets twice a year. The members of the board are: the president, two co-presidents, general, scientific, executive and communication secretary and representatives of sections. We have eight sections: Agro- and Biometeorological, Aviation Meteorology, Climate, Atmospheric Dynamics, Atmospheric Environment, Sun- and Wind Energy, Remote Sensing and the Róna Zsigmond Youth Club. We also have the following regional groups: Debrecen, Eger-Bükk, Nyíregyháza, Pécs, Szeged and Szombathely.

Each year, awards are presented to groups and individuals involved in outstanding meteorological activities. The main award of the Society is the Steiner Lajos Commemorative Medal. The  Hegyfoky Kabos Commemorative Medal is presented for an outstanding activity in climatology; the author of the best publication of the year receives the Literature Niveau Award and outstanding agrometeorological work is recognized by Berényi Dénes Memorial Certificate. There are two awards in the youth meteorologist category. The best diploma work is honoured by the Hille Alfréd Youth Prize, and the outstanding young fellow, under 35 years old, is provided with Róna Zsigmond Foundation Support. The Society also awards a special honorary membership. If the recipient is Hungarian, the diploma of honorary membership will be written in Latin and Hungarian, but if the recipient is foreign, it will be written in Latin and in the language of the laureate.

EMS LC: What are MMT’s recent achievements?

MMT: The main activity of MMT is to organise scientific sessions. During the 2010-14 period we had 104 sessions but during the 2015-2018 period we had up to 143. The MMT has been very active in international cooperation. We invited two important meetings to be held in Budapest.

EMS LC: Where do you see the greatest challenges?

MMT: I think the greatest challenge is to maintain the activity of the members. Maybe in the internet era the old fashioned meetings are no longer the most useful platform of information exchange. The classical meeting is not the quickest option for knowledge exchange but personal face-to-face discussion could be as exciting a tool of debate as Facebook comments.

EMS LC: Which activities are you planning for the coming months?

MMT: MMT has many events planned this year. In August we will organise the 37th Biennial Itinerary conference in Veszprém, later we will participate in the EMS conference and, last but not least, we are the host of the Global Meeting 5 of the International Forum of Meteorological Societies (IFMS). So for the organisation, the regular year-closing general assembly will be a real relief.

EMS LC: Are you collaborating with other EMS Members?

MMT: Our cooperation with other societies is fairly regular.  Representatives of the Austrian, Croatian and Slovakian Societies participated in our 90th anniversary ceremony recently and we congratulated the Croatian society on the occasion its 50th anniversary. Nowadays we are collaborating actively with EMS and IFMS because our representative is both a member of the EMS Council and Vice-president of IFMS. Many years ago our Biennial meeting used to be organised commonly with the Slovakian Society.

EMS LC: What do you expect from the EMS? In what ways can it help you to develop your activities?

MMT: We are very much satisfied with the activity of EMS. The organisation disseminates information quickly and usefully, maintains the common interest of European societies and, what is most important, organises the annual EMS Conference. This is the most important European forum for new research work. It was a good idea to move this meeting series from the ECAM/ECAC conferences towards a wider forum for meteorologists, public, private and academic.

EMS LC: What have been your most successful events in the last three years?

MMT: The Biennial meeting in Sárospatak in 2016,  the annual Grape and Climate conference organised by the Szombathely local group, led by professor János Puskás, who is the most active member of our society and the reorganisation of Medical Meteorology symposia (2015, 2017).

EMS LC: What changes do you believe your society needs to make?

MMT: Taking into consideration our low membership fee, we have to increase the number of legal supporters. We have to communicate better and successfully advertise our activities in the future.

EMS LC:  MMT is the local host – together with the Hungarian Weather Service OMSZ – of the upcoming EMS Annual Meeting 2018 in Budapest: What role has this event for the meteorological and climate research community in Hungary?

MMT: The MMT is very happy that the EMS accepted our invitation. The last time such a big meteorological event took place in Budapest was in 2001, when the OMSZ hosted the European Conference of Applied Meteorology (ECAM) and the EMS Annual Meeting. That time we had 150 participants. This year more than 800 abstracts were submitted. I think this means that the colleagues will be glad to come to Budapest and I hope that it means that they have a good opinion about Hungarian meteorologists and meteorology too. The President of Hungary accepted our invitation to open the conference, which shows the high profile of the event, and will boost the self-esteem and motivation of colleagues. This conference, we hope, will be not only the success of EMS but of Hungarian meteorology too.

EMS LC:  You are also hosting the Global Meeting 5 of the International Forum of Meteorological Societies (IFMS) on 5 and 6 September: How do you see the role of the IFMS for the meteorological community, in particular in Europe?

MMT: In 2010, leaders of nineteen meteorological societies, among them the MMT, met in Atlanta and agreed to form the International Forum of Meteorological Societies. The fundamental goal of the IFMS is to foster and encourage communication and exchange of knowledge among the world’s meteorological societies. The idea is very nice but the basic question is whether a worldwide organisation could really add any advantage to the existing regional meteorological societies; the African Meteorological Society (AfMS), the EMS, and the Latin American and Iberian Federation of Meteorological Societies (FLISMET). As I see it, the stress is on the other side of the world, I mean outside of Europe. Could real intercontinental cooperation among the societies work?  I believe at the moment the interest is very low among European meteorological societies. Very few European societies participated in the last IFMS Meeting in Reading. We will see if the involvement will be greater in Budapest. I think the EMS co-operation works very well and effectively. Most societies have limited or no resources to be used for international cooperation within IFMS. From a European point of view, the IFMS cooperation may seem to be a duplication of their international cooperation. The new idea, the Global Weather Enterprise (GWE), may give a new profile to IFMS and if the European meteorological societies are to adopt the GWE concept, they may become more active in IFMS cooperation. An interesting question is what is the standpoint of EMS on the GWE? A separate session will deal with the GWE concept in the coming IFMS meeting.

EMS LC: Thank you very much for the interview!

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