Emma Staughton

By Emma herself

Day one: 5th July 2010

The prospect of work experience at RMetS made me excited every time I thought about it in the months leading up to my placement. I wanted to learn what a career in meteorology would entail. On arrival at the Royal Meteorological Society’s head quarters I was fascinated to find a small stylish Victorian building slotted in to the high street.

sam and liz

Emma (right) with Liz

I was introduced to Liz Bentley, Rachael Fordham and Sue Brown all of whom help run the society, as well as Sam Walters who was also on work experience. All the staff were very welcoming and gave Sam and I a tour of the building. It suddenly struck me that all newsletters, magazines and great information I had received over the period of my membership as a student, had all come out of this very building.

Sam and I were shown the conference room where we spoke with Liz about the 24 hour forecast maps for that day. The charts were fascinating to analyze and was thoroughly enjoyable. Afterwards, we walked in to Reading city centre where we had a lunch break by the canal in the sun.

After lunch and back at the office, Sam and I helped Sue Brown prepare for the student conference this coming weekend. This gave Sam and I an insight into how much time is put in to get the events ready.

While discussing careers options with Rachael, Sam and I expressed interested in the society’s relationship with the University of Reading, as well as the prospect of studying there. For this reason, Rachael contacted the university to arrange a visit to the meteorology department. This was more than appreciated by both Sam and I!

Overall, day one has been more than enjoyable and I am very much looking forward to the PR meeting for the new Weather Club tomorrow in London.

Day two: 6th July 2010

Today I met Liz and Sam in London to attend the PR meeting for the new Weather Club. The location of the meeting seemed very grand and photo ids were made of all that attended!

At the meeting, the first thing to be discussed was the application of the weather to people’s hobbies and activities during the summer of 2010, which could be written about in the new Weather Club magazine. These included the lack of use of Wimbledon’s roof during the infamous tennis tournament and the use of umbrellas as sun shades instead of sheltering from the rain. It was also discussed how successful the magazine could become as the English are obsessed with the weather. This has also been driven by recent weather phenomenon for example the abnormally large amounts of snow in the most recent winter and the prospect of a possible drought this summer with hose pipe bans being imposed and water shortages being reported.

The Weather Club’s website development was also discussed. Sam and I would be helping write the ‘ask the experts’ section of the website which was very exciting. We also discussed how the website could get the public involved through writing in with various measurements and observations of the weather in their local area.

Advice was also given regarding the approach to take with the media including radio stations, newspapers and TV reporters. The launch week of the Weather Club would be crucial in encouraging people to join the club and get involved in taking part in observing the weather.

On arrival back at the office in Reading, Sam and I researched more ask the expert questions. I decided to look at the climate change section as this is strongly related to my degree, Environmental Science! I had to find answers to questions such as how much change would occur by 2050 in relation to rain, extreme weather and drought conditions.

Another great day exploring the world of meteorology and it was great to find out how the society plans to develop itself and reach out to a much larger audience.

Day three: 7th July 2010

Today we visited University of Reading and the meteorology department. I wanted to find out more about the masters course running as I would be applying in a years time for this very course!

Rachael, Sam and I caught the bus towards the University of Reading. On the way we discussed being a student in Reading and all the cost associated. Rachael gave us a tour of the main campus and the students union. We also discussed all the social events which happen at the university during term time.

We then headed for the meteorology department. Sam and I were introduced to Ross Reynolds the course coordinator of the Applied Meteorology course. Ross discussed the various options within the course and which modules we could take. Tropical weather systems sounded very exciting. I also chatted with Ross concerning my dissertation which I am due to start writing in September 2010 on the changing occurrence of forest fires as a result of climate change and its effect on the tourist industry in the New Forest. Ross seemed very keen to help provide data for this project and talking to him was definitely advantageous.

Ross then gave us a tour of the Meteorology department. We visited the café, where all the social events such as uni-hoc meets happen, the lecture theatres, the department library and the labs. The labs were very tidy as no students use them out of term time!

We then caught the bus back to HQ and had lunch and a cup of tea (in the RMETS weather mugs of course). We were then introduced to Georgina Lea, who is responsible for publishing all the journals run by the society. We were also shown by Georgina how the society hopes to improve each conference and meeting through feedback from attendees.

Sam and I were then introduced to Althea Howard. Althea is responsible for all memberships to the society and organises payments through the society shop. The first thing Althea showed us was a 200 year old binding containing a signature from Robert Fitzroy declaring the society official which was very exciting! Althea then took us through the various conferences you can attend and gifts you can buy from the shop.

Today, in conclusion, has been motivational in finding the right masters course for me and ensured I will in fact apply to University of Reading to study Applied Meteorology.

Day four: 8th July 2010

Today Sam and I were asked to write an article for Met Link, RMetS website. We chose St. Swithin’s day as 15th July was fast approaching. Sam chose to study the history behind the day and I gathered data from the Met Office’s online archive to prove or disprove the myth that whatever weather occurs on St. Swithin’s day will occur for 40 days to follow. We compiled all our findings into one document before analysing what we had found. We found generally there is less rainfall if it has been sunny on 15th July and if it has rained that day there is generally less sunshine hours, but never has there been 40 days of exactly the same weather!

After finishing off our St. Swithin’s article, Liz explained today’s forecast and how the Azores high system worked. At 12.30pm we went for lunch. On arrival back at the office Sam and I typed up our ‘ask the experts’ questions, which included subjects surrounding: tornadoes, volcanoes, climate change and clouds, all of which were very interesting to research.

Day five: 9th July 2010

Today Sam and I summarized our ask the expert questions ready for editing before being put online. Sections included cloud types, forecasting and climate change. We also completed a forecast with Liz for different events Sue and Rachael were attending this weekend. Let’s hope they’re accurate!

I then started a book review on Ross Reynold’s book ‘Guide to weather’ who we had met earlier in the week while visiting the Department of Meteorology at University of Reading. It was great to be able to learn so much about meteorology just by flicking through a few pages.

Day six: 12th July 2010.

After a particularly long weekend at work in Southampton, I was relieved once again to be back at head office of RMetS. Matt and Ariana would join me on work experience as well this week. After catching up with Rachael on our weekend’s news, I was asked to write a timeline article on the history of conferences which had been held concerning climate change. This strongly related to all the work I have been doing this semester at University of Southampton. I found the main environmental movement started in the early 1900’s around the industrial revolution with scientists researching ozone depletion earlier than I had realised.

At 12.30 we went for lunch by the canal with Liz. Matt, Ariana and I discussed our A level options and which universities they had both looked at. We had all seemed to have centred our options around meteorology! After lunch we all helped Sue with the preparing for the summer meeting in Exeter. All the accommodation and dietary details had to be checked and information leaflets attached to lanyards. The preparation needed was extensive but definitely necessary, as it to makes sure everyone is well accommodated.

Day seven: 13th July

Today, it was raining and was the definitive topic of conversation! As Liz had shown us on the charts yesterday, the area of high pressure over southern UK and the Meditterean had been broken down which bought with it, yes, wet weather.

This morning, Rachael discussed with Ariana, Matt and I, how the Weather Club launch week would consist of a loop of visits across the country in just one week. Our task for this morning would be to find ideal locations for their visits with appropriate ‘weather’ names, for example we found Midsummer boulevard in Milton Keynes, which is a busy shopping area.

After finalizing our lists of our sunningdales and our tornado alleys, we carried on writing our individual information leaflets. My climate change timeline of important conferences and events was beginning to take shape.

Day eight: 14th July

Matt, Ariana and I wrote some more ask the expert questions this morning. We learnt how lightning is formed, how barometers work and why the sky is blue. This took up most of the morning as there was so much information to write up!

During our lunch break we discovered the ‘Cornish pasty shop’ which was delicious! After lunch we helped Sue in finding all the university venues which could hold 500 people for conferences across the country. I would be using my telephone voice this afternoon!

Day nine: 15th July

Today we would travel to Kensal Green cemetery, London to rededicate George James Symons’ grave on St. Swithin’s day. The quarterly council meeting would then be held in the Dissenter’s Chapel close by. After a long journey on trains and tubes, we arrived at Kensal Green and helped set up for the day ahead. Everyone had to be greeted and given their name badge which we had made up earlier on in the week. While I was greeting all the guests that had been invited to the buffet lunch, Ariana and Matt looked after George James Symons’ 150 year old book. It contained Victorian photographs of all the members of RMetS at the time it was made. There was also the prestigious George James Symons medal which is awarded to individuals which have made a significant contribution to the meteorological world.


The Symons gravestone and rededication

After the buffet lunch, everyone headed for the unveiling of the newly refurbished grave. This was very exciting and there were plenty of photographs being taken to commemorate the event. We also met plenty of big names including Tim Palmer, the soon to be president of the society, and other representatives from organisations such as ECMWF, Met Office and universities of Leeds and Reading.

After the ceremony, a select few of the congregation stayed for the council meeting. None of which, content wise, can I discuss in this diary, as it was all confidential! It was really interesting to have an insight into who is in charge of what within the running of the society and what the future plans for the society are.

Day ten: 16th July

Today is a summing up day. All our work had to be up to date and sent across to be uploaded on to the Met link website. Matt also had to help out as the quiz master with Rachael and Kathy, as the Royal Meteorological Society would be entering a team for filming on Egg Heads in the coming week!

In conclusion, my two weeks at the Royal Meteorological Society have been filled with exciting activities, some in Reading and some in London! From this work experience I have decided which university I’d like to study my MSc in Meteorology and have learned all the big names. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and hopefully I have been of some assistance at the society!