Awards for Advancing Science

The Symons Gold Medal and Lecture for Lifetime Achievement in Advancing Science is awarded biennially to a Member or Fellow of the Society for distinguished work in connection with meteorological science.

The Buchan Award for Scientific Advances is awarded annually to Members of the Society for a paper or papers published in the Society’s journals in the preceding five years and adjudged to contain the most important original contribution or contributions to meteorology.

The Hugh Robert Mill Award for Precipitation Research is awarded annually for original research into the distribution of precipitation, or into the variation of precipitation in time at any place, or into precipitation either as a meteorological phenomenon, or in relation to climatology, agriculture, water supply, water power or other applications.

The Adrian Gill Award for Advances at the Interface of Atmospheric Science and Related Disciplines is awarded annually to a Member of the Society who has made a significant contribution(s) and authored paper(s) in the Society’s journals in fields interfacing between atmospheric science and related disciplines, thereby being referred to as “multi-disciplinary”.

The LF Richardson Award and Lecture for Early-Career Researchers is awarded annually for a meritorious paper published in the preceding four years in a Society journal by a Member of the Society who is an early-career scientist (no more than 15 years into their career, excluding career breaks).

The Malcolm Walker Award for New Environmental Researchers is bestowed annually to recognise and encourage new environmental researchers from a wide range of disciplines who have brought new insights into an aspect of the environmental sciences, which includes elements of meteorology and/or oceanography.

The Symons Gold Medal and Lecture for Lifetime Achievement in Advancing Science

Professor Michael Edgeworth McIntyre

Michael Edgeworth McIntyre

Professor Michael Edgeworth McIntyre has made outstanding contributions to our understanding of geophysical fluid dynamics.

Michael’s work on fluid dynamical `wave breaking' lies at the foundation of many classes of extreme weather events. His prescient insights and anticipation of the dynamics of breaking Rossby waves is at the heart of some of the most extreme bouts of severe weather in the world, including long-lived ‘blocking events’ that cause intense cold air outbreaks in winter and devastating heatwaves and firestorms in summer. The impacts of Michael’s work extend to tropical cyclones and even other planets such as the gas giants.

Michael had many of the key insights that led to the Transformed Eulerian Mean (TEM) form of geophysical fluid dynamical equations. This mathematical transformation produced a startling simplification of the underlying physics and spawned new insights in thousands of subsequent studies. These range from sudden stratospheric warming events, to fundamental eddy feedbacks that maintain the jet stream and the balance of processes driving the once mysterious Quasi-Biennial Oscillation. McIntyre’s development of the TEM with his student David Andrews is a landmark in our understanding of the atmosphere.

Michael’s groundbreaking insights provide a lucid picture of the stratospheric polar vortex as a containment vessel. Its sharp edges serving as a deformable elastic waveguide for Rossby waves but isolating ozone depleted air until irreversible wave breaking releases it to lower latitudes. These insights helped settle fundamental arguments on ozone depletion, fluid dynamical mixing and stirring and the transport of low ozone air over highly populated areas.

Michael’s work is hallmarked by a profound ability to see the underlying elements of a phenomenon but they also include far reaching practical work. His simplification of atmospheric gravity wave effects led to simple and affordable computer schemes which allowed dramatic improvements in climate models and contributed to the development of skilful long-range predictions of the extratropical stratosphere and extreme surface weather. Versions of McIntyre’s schemes are still in use in the numerical prediction systems in national weather services at the Met Office, Environment Canada and the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting.

Michael is an exceptionally inspiring scientist. His deep understanding, combined with careful communication, make his lectures and seminars an unparalleled experience. Numerous prominent researchers have profoundly benefitted from McIntyre’s mentorship and have gone on to hold leading academic positions worldwide. Michael’s influence also extends to many other fields, including much-cited work in musical acoustics, a breakthrough in solar physics (the first credible model of the fluid dynamics of the solar tachocline), and a recent book (Science, Music and Mathematics – The Deepest Connections) discussing biological evolution, human language, all of which demonstrate our unconscious mathematical abilities.

Professor McIntyre is a giant in the geosciences. His untiring communication of deep scientific ideas has armed generations of scientists with new tools, insights and communication skills and he has contributed to the amazing strength and vitality of meteorological research in the UK and beyond. He is a very worthy winner of the Symons Gold Medal and Lecture.

Acceptance message

I was astonished, and delighted, to learn that I'm to be honoured with the Symons Gold Medal and Lecture. The Lecture will be -- as Hermann Bondi once put it -- an opportunity "to allow the bees in one's bonnet to buzz even more noisily than usual". That's from his wonderful book "Assumption and Myth in Physical Theory", his 1965 Tarner Lectures, an early inspiration for me. So needless to say I'm accepting this generous award.

Looking back on my career, I'm more than ever impressed by how lucky I've been, not least in having been able to focus on curiosity-driven research -- much of it in collaboration with many wonderful postdocs and research students. It's the kind of research that resists bureaucratic constraints and tries to look at problems from more than one viewpoint, aiming at in-depth, multi-level understanding. (That by the way is the kind of understanding that's still far beyond the reach of today's artificial intelligences.) I have quite a number of bees in my bonnet about these things and will look forward to letting some of them buzz in my lecture.


The Hugh Robert Mill Award for Precipitation Research

Professor Ed Hawkins

Professor Ed Hawkins

Professor Ed Hawkins created and led the Rainfall Rescue project, a highly successful citizen science programme, which has contributed greatly to knowledge of UK rainfall climatology over the past 200 years.

The UK has some of the oldest and most detailed rainfall records of any country in the world, but until the Rainfall Rescue project the vast majority of such records prior to 1961 were in paper format and thus not readily accessible to climate researchers. In early 2020, Professor Hawkins built the website using the Zooniverse platform and communicated the programme widely through his academic and media contacts. The source material was 66,000 previously scanned paper records (the ‘ten-year sheets’ rainfall archive) held in the UK National Meteorological Archive.

The public launch of the project coincided with the first national lockdown owing to the coronavirus pandemic; thousands of individuals confined to home with ample spare time on their hands read about the project on the BBC News website amongst others, and quickly and enthusiastically took up the challenge: 16,000 volunteers transcribed all 66,000 pages (containing 5.28 million numbers) within just 16 days. Ed spent much of the first fortnight of the project working some 18 hours per day, seven days per week to keep up with the demand. This is believed to be the largest climate-related citizen science data rescue/outreach project ever completed.

The newly rescued data have greatly improved the observation records across the UK and Ireland, enabling a better understanding of past variations including periods of significant flooding and drought. These data have enabled the Met Office’s UK monthly gridded rainfall observation dataset to be extended back to 1836, with greatly improved station coverage before 1961. This dataset is an important resource for hydrological monitoring and use by the academic community. The addition of Rainfall Rescue data represents a major step forward in understanding of historical events, for example the notable droughts of 1933/34, 1920/21 and long drought of the 1890s.

The Rainfall Rescue project is an outstanding example of a successful citizen science project, to address the long-standing challenge of the digitisation of historic observations. It was the British Rainfall Organization who began the systematic curation and publication of rainfall data under George Symons in 1860: the ‘ten-year sheets’ were Symons’ own creation, and many of the early records appear in his own handwriting. Dr Hugh Robert Mill became the Director of the British Rainfall Organization following Symons’ death in 1900 and remained so until the organization was transferred to the Meteorological Office in 1919. There is no question that Symons’ and Mill’s decades of painstaking work in rainfall measurement has been given fresh impetus and renewed relevance in the 21st century by the inspirational work of the Rainfall Rescue project. It is therefore particularly appropriate that Professor Ed Hawkins is the recipient of this year’s Royal Meteorological Society’s Hugh Robert Mill Award.

Acceptance message

I am hugely honoured to have received the Hugh Robert Mill award of the Royal Met Soc for 2022. As a nation we love talking about the weather, and rainfall in particular. Recent experiences with droughts and floods across the UK have highlighted the need to learn more about past variations in rainfall to put these events into a longer-term context. The Rainfall Rescue project aimed to transform 66,000 sheets of paper, containing hand-written rainfall amounts from before the time of Queen Victoria up to the 1950s, into valuable digital data for climate scientists to use. 16,000 volunteers stepped forward to help and accurately transcribed 5 million rainfall observations in just 16 days. Enormous thanks go to every one of those volunteers, but particular credit is reserved for 8 dedicated individuals who translated the transcribed information into usable scientific data by identifying the locations where the measurements were taken and quality-controlling the observations. The resulting data are now incorporated into the official UK rainfall statistics and have dramatically improved our estimates of rainfall patterns back to the early 1800s. This project would not have been possible without the National Meteorological Archive, who preserved and scanned the original paper sheets, and the dedication of the British Rainfall Organisation, who originally collated the observations over many decades. We must also recognise those who took the original observations, day-after-day, often as volunteers. Thanks also go to Stephen Burt who kindly shared his extensive knowledge of the rainfall sheets, and Mark McCarthy who integrated the data into the Met Office digital archives to enable the data to be useful once again.


The Adrian Gill Award for Advances at the Interface of Atmospheric Science and Related Disciplines

Professor Dann Mitchell

Professor Dann Mitchell

Professor Dann Mitchell is an outstanding climate scientist who has won international renown for his work in the field of climate science and the impact of extreme weather on society. He is an atmospheric scientist by training, but over the last five years his research has increasingly focussed on the intersection of weather and hazards, especially those that relate to human health. He currently holds an Alan Turing Fellowship, and NERC Fellowship, and is the Met Office chair in Climate Hazards at the University of Bristol. He leads the Bristol-Met Office Research Academic Partnership, a role established to bring together the gold standard Met Office weather and climate models with Bristol’s world leading environmental impact models. He was a Review Editor in Working Group 1 of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report (AR6) with the specific aim of aim of facilitating consistency between Working Group 1 and Working Group 2 (Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability), owing to his leadership in this interdisciplinary space.

In the field of climate and health, his work combines climatological and epidemiological modelling, and he is one of the few scientists who is well known in both the climate and health communities. His work is published regularly in the top journals from other disciplines including the British Medical Journal, Nature Medicine, and the Lancet Planetary Health, and he has led and spoke on this topic in the main Science Pavilion at COP26 resulting in a collaboration with the Government’s then Chief Scientific Officer Sir Patrick Vallance on the interplay between climate, health and COVID.

While Dann’s principle interdisciplinary focus is between atmospheric and health sciences, he also works very closely at the interface of a number of other sectors, and in particular hydrology. The international consortium that he co-founded and currently runs, HAPPI (Half a degree Additional warming, Prognosis and Projected Impacts), is one of the first international, multi-model assessments that truly works in an interdisciplinary way. It brings together 9 different modelling centres with over 15 different ‘impact sectors’, ranging from weather impacts on the environment, such as flooding, droughts, wildfires, to weather impacts on social systems, such as food security, economy and health care. In the last five years, this consortium has published >100 peer-reviewed publications. Through HAPPI, Dann proposed and won funding to establish the National Climate Impacts and Risks meeting, beginning a series of annual events (except COVID years) that have brought together >100 academic and industry professionals interested in the intersection of atmospheric science and environmental impacts.

Overall, Dann has produced major leaps forward in the science of the atmosphere and its impact on society, both within and outside of the RMetS journals. He has done this through ground-breaking research, international leadership, communication, and building wide-reaching networks for the communities with which he works. Given Dann’s standing as a visionary scientist, and his central focus on inter-disciplinary science, make him a worthy recipient of the Royal Meteorological Society Adrian Gill award.

Acceptance message

I am both excited and honoured to be given this award, and thank the Royal Met Soc and my nominators for making it happen. The award was for research involving climate change and how it interfaces with hazards, progressing through to the real-life impacts on populations around the world. By its very nature this involved a multitude of disciplines, and in my case that gave me access to brilliant scientists ranging across the fields of epidemiology, health science, hydrology, and disaster risk reduction. My excitement for research is fuelled by those around me, and that starts with my group at Bristol, a truly interdisciplinary bunch of physical, social, and computational scientists who make every step of the research process a pleasure. It is a large group, and one with a strong sense of community and research culture, and in my view, that is what ignites some of the best science. With that ethic in mind, it is particularly heartening to be awarded the Adrian Gill prize, given how similar the sense of community is within the Royal Met Soc. I truly share this award with all those I’ve collaborated with over the past five years, and hope that it serves as a beacon for others in the hazard and impact community who want to engage with me and my group more widely.

The Adrian Gill Award for Advances at the Interface of Atmospheric Science and Related Disciplines

Professor David J Brayshaw

Professor David J Brayshaw

Through his role as Professor of Climate Science and Energy-Meteorology at the University of Reading, David Brayshaw has pioneered a multi-disciplinary body of work applying the science of weather and climate to the increasingly important challenges facing the energy sector. Energy systems are going through a period of rapid transformation with increasing use of renewables (particularly wind and solar) and electrification of other energy sectors (such as transport and heating). This is fundamentally changing the way electrical power systems operate. A central feature of this transformation is a massive increase in the exposure of the energy-sector to weather and climate risk.

Professor Brayshaw’s work has played a key role in developing the interdisciplinary science necessary to understand and predict energy-and-climate risk as well as supporting the formation of an international and interdisciplinary research community that bridges the climate and energy science disciplines to promote training, exchange and collaboration. This includes assessment of meteorological drivers of “energy stress events” such as heatwaves or wind “droughts” and developing novel techniques to improve and assess sub-seasonal forecast skill for energy applications encompassing changes in both the demand for energy and the supply from solar and wind power. Tools have been developed to support the quantification of climate risk in complex power system design applications such as a European Electricity Super-grid. It has further advanced understanding of the impacts of climate change on energy resources. Many of these activities have received considerable academic and industry attention.

Professor Brayshaw’s teaching and research has continued to lead the development of the new science needed to understand and forewarn of climate risk in energy systems, supporting the development of a research community through community building and leadership including the building of a vibrant Energy-Meteorology research group at the University of Reading. These activities have included publishing extensively in and editing for RMetS journals, supporting the Society’s events and becoming co-chair of the Energy Special Interest Group.

In summary, Professor David Brayshaw has demonstrated a sustained, influential and innovative contribution to atmospheric and energy-systems science, providing an effective and crucial interface between these disciplines through impactful publications while providing effective dissemination of knowledge and community leadership that include significant contributions to the RMetS. Professor David Brayshaw is therefore a richly deserving recipient of the Adrian Gill Award.

Acceptance message

It is an honour to receive the Adrian Gill Award and I’d like to thank the Royal Meteorological Society and my nominators for considering me for this award. The last decade has seen rapid change in energy systems as they move away from ‘traditional’ fossil-fuel generation towards incorporating large volumes of ‘variable’ weather-dependent renewables. It has been incredibly exciting to work on developing the meteorological tools and understanding required to support this much-needed transition. I’ve been privileged to be able to do this alongside a fantastic group of researchers both within the University of Reading (faculty colleagues, postdocs and students) and from around the world. The progress we’ve made is very much a collective achievement and I look forward to seeing this interdisciplinary research community continuing to progress and develop in the years ahead.