Awards for Educating, Inspiring and Enthusing
The Climate Science and Climate Science Communication Award is awarded annually to a Member of the Society in recognition of outstanding scientific contributions to climate science that include proactive outreach activities.
The Michael Hunt Award for Increasing Public Understanding of Meteorology and its Applications is awarded annually to individuals or collaborations for excellence in increasing the understanding of meteorology or its allied disciplines among non-specialist audiences, including members of the general public or particular groups such as yachtsmen, schoolchildren, etc. The Award commemorates the achievements of Michael Hunt (1920-1985) who, as a TV weatherman, was able to communicate his enthusiasm for the subject to his viewers.
The Education Award is made annually for weather and climate teaching excellence. Awards are made in recognition of significant and sustained commitment to the delivery and/or support of teaching and learning, or the development and use of innovative teaching or training resources related to weather, climate and related applications.
The Emerging Communicator Award is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding contributions to outreach and communication activities relating to meteorology and its impacts, including climate change to a person who has been communicating to non-specialist audiences about weather, climate or related topics for less than 5 years. It may be made for an outstanding, proactive and significant one-off contribution, or for sustained activity over a longer time period.
The Gordon Manley Weather Award is awarded annually for any outstanding contribution to Weather through a paper or papers or service to Weather in the preceding five years that have furthered the public understanding of meteorology and oceanography.
The Climate Science and Climate Science Communication Award
Dr Friederike E L Otto
Fredi Otto is a climate scientist who leads highly successful and influential research on the science of extreme weather event attribution. She uses this research to communicate effectively to wide audiences about changes in extreme weather that are due to human activities.
Since 2015 the World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative has been conducting real-time attribution analysis of extreme weather events as they happen around the world. This provides the public, scientists and decision-makers with the means to make clear connections between greenhouse gas emissions and impactful extreme weather events, such as storms, floods, heatwaves and droughts.
WWA has been led since the beginning by Fredi and Geert Jan van Oldenborgh (KNMI; until his passing in 2021). They pioneered the development of the necessary methodologies, tools and communication protocols to ensure that analyses of weather extremes can be undertaken and presented to the science community and the media within weeks or even days of a particular event occurring. It has taken several years to learn the optimal way to achieve this, often with limited funding and battling skepticism from some in the science community about the feasibility of these approaches.
WWA have tackled cold waves, heat waves, storms, droughts, wildfires and heavy rainfall events across the world. Their analyses have raised the profile of extreme event attribution and are often quoted in media across the globe while the events and consequences are still fresh. This has changed perceptions of how climate change is affecting people today – it is no longer something which will only affect people in the future.
Over the last few years Fredi has also been a Lead Author within Working Group I (WGI) of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report, and an author for both the WGI Summary for Policymakers (SPM), and the Synthesis Report. The value of the rapid extreme weather event attribution approaches that she has developed have helped considerably strengthen statements about human contributions to extreme events, compared to the previous IPCC 5th Assessment. This led to the inclusion of Figure 3 in the IPCC WGI SPM which summarises the many regions of the world where recent trends in extreme events can be linked to human causes, which was not previously possible.
Fredi has given countless media interviews about extreme weather events and her 2019 popular science book (Angry Weather), which has been published in English and German, became a best seller. In 2021, she was included in the “Time 100”, Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. She is a deserved winner of the Climate Science and Climate Science Communication Award.
The Michael Hunt Award for Increasing Public Understanding of Meteorology and its Applications
Mr Alex Deakin and Mr Aidan McGivern
A critical part of the Met Office’s remit is to equip the public with information that enables them to take action to stay safe, particularly during severe weather. Research demonstrates regular reach/engagement with all generations of the public, except 18-24-year-olds. As a result, this is the generation with the least awareness of the Met Office, and the least likely to engage/take action.
This was the challenge facing us when we set out to find new and innovative ways to communicate weather, and recruiting experienced weather presenters was crucial. Our award-winning success on this journey has exceeded expectations and is in no small part due to the talent and drive of Alex and Aidan.
Despite coming from a traditional broadcasting background, they were asked to embrace entirely new ways of working. Their work on social media is a large part of daily operations as well as presenting for broadcast customers and acting as spokespeople on national TV/radio. They regularly ‘go live’ across social, answering questions from viewers, giving context to weather situations.
They run our presenter training programme, inspiring the next generation of presenters, training traditional broadcast methods as well as how to adapt for social, with participants going onto presenting jobs with broadcasters.
Aidan has turned his hand to a variety of communications activities including being a contributing writer on the book ‘Very British Weather’. He has spoken at social media conferences, talking about the Met Office’s unique approach to weather communications. His work on YouTube channel ‘Learn About Weather’ has created a wealth of free, accessible and educational explainers for members of the public of all ages.
Alex grew our Snapchat channel from 0 to over 25,000 followers, personally building a relationship with Snapchat. He attended COP26 to bring the event to life for our audiences, collaborating with ITV and Sky on live broadcasts across social channels resulting in our content being ranked number one of trending climate hashtags on TikTok.
They are the presenters of our award-winning TikTok channel. This has been important in taking weather and climate information and, critically, severe weather warnings to the place where young people go for information. Alex and Aidan were invited to appear live on ‘Lorraine’ during the heatwave to talk about their work on TikTok, being dubbed ‘The Ant and Dec of weather.’
In a recent social audit conducted externally, including user research, a clear USP was identified as our presenters who were seen as helpful, easy-to-understand, and perceived as highly knowledgeable.
But, most impactfully, we have seen anecdotal evidence of young people taking action based on their advice:
- “Me going to tell my Mum we need to tie down the trampoline”
- “This TikTok channel has completely changed the way I look at weather forecasts!”
- “I love how the Met Office has to use TikTok to tell teens stuff cos they know for a fact we don’t watch the news.”
With their passion and unique talent, Alex and Aidan embody the very spirit of communicating enthusiasm for the weather.
The Education Award
Professor David M Schultz
Professor David Schultz is a most worthy recipient of the Royal Meteorological Society’s Education Award. His commitment to the teaching of meteorology, and to furthering the careers of young people, has been a consistent feature of his career and drawn praise and appreciation from generations of students. As well as setting very high standards for his teaching, David has a long record of innovation and producing materials and tools that benefit the wider educational community as well as his own classes.
An early example of this is his book Eloquent Science: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker, and Atmospheric Scientist (2009), the first textbook written specifically for atmospheric scientists to improve their communication skills. Each year, David delivers dozens of hours of seminars, training, and workshops to recipients across the world based on content from that book. Eloquent Science has been universally praised, received awards, and sold thousands of copies worldwide.
More recently he has led the development of software tools to introduce students to the techniques of computer modelling. Funded by grants from the Higher Education Academy, ManUniCast.com was the first freely accessible real-time weather and air-quality forecasting portal for the UK, which included educational pages to explain the science behind weather forecasts. ManUniCast is used extensively at Manchester for research-based teaching and outreach, and last year over 1500 users from around the world accessed it over 3000 times. David also designed and led the development of a massive online open course called “Our Earth: Its Climate, History, and Processes”. One of the online teaching tools developed for this course was BuildYourOwnEarth.com. This allows users to explore over 50 different climate-model simulations of the Earth in various past, present, future, and hypothetical configurations. The resource is freely available online and last year generated over 37,000 unique users with over 48,000 sessions, with both numbers up about 10% over the previous year.
Since his appointment to the University of Manchester in 2009, he has won School and Faculty teaching awards ten times, including Best Teacher, Lecturer of the Year, Most Innovative Use of eLearning, Best in eLearning Competition, Outstanding Public Engagement, and Excellence and Innovation in Teaching and Learning Practice. He won the University Teaching Excellence Award three times (two times as an individual, and one as a group), the only academic to have won two or more times. He also won the Student Union’s Outstanding Research Supervision award. He was an Inaugural Institute Fellow at the University of Manchester Institute for Teaching and Learning, where he is seconded to develop guidance for students and academics on innovative forms of assessments. Since 2019, he has been an Associate Editor at the Journal of Geoscience Education, the first meteorologist to hold this position in recognition of the growing movement in educational-based research in atmospheric science. He has led three NERC-funded training programs for PhD students and early-career researchers in the field of software development and has been heavily involved with PhD training through the Manchester-Liverpool DTP programme.
The Emerging Communicator Award
Dr Ella Gilbert
Ella Gilbert completed her PhD at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), followed by a postdoc position at the University of Reading, before moving back to BAS. Her research focusses on the Antarctic, but she communicates on all aspects of climate science, including about her interactions with those who still question the science behind climate change.
Ella has created her own popular YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/c/drgilbz), engages actively through social media such as twitter, and newer channels such as TikTok. Importantly, she engages with younger audiences with a different style than many more traditional communication efforts.
She was part of the science team for the successful SeeMonster project (https://seemonster.co.uk/) which has transformed a retired oil rig into a vision of a sustainable future. Specifically, Ella worked on the weather and climate components of the installation which brought scientists and artists together to imagine a different future. Recently, she was one of the expert hosts for ‘Lift the Ice’ – a docu-series about what lies beneath the ice of Antarctica.
Ella was also a regular expert guest on the Sky News Daily Climate Show, and continues to appear in the media frequently. She also has by-lines and commentary in many national and international media publications. She has spoken at primary schools, the Natural History Museum, music festivals and appeared in short documentaries, including about how her passion for boxing interacts with climate science, again reaching a different audience from typical communication channels. She also offers a range of public talks, as well as academic and science communication consultancy, and workshops. She is a worthy winner of the Emerging Communicator Award for her significant contributions to communicating climate science to broad audiences.