Message Impossible? Tell us how you would re-design the UK's weather forecasts
Release Date 09 June 2017
Our ability to reliably predict the weather days or even a season ahead is easy to take for granted because weather forecasts are part of our daily lives. Weather forecasts can be found everywhere, on TV and radio and increasingly on our smartphones and other internet connected devices.
As our ways of consuming weather forecast information become more diverse and more targeted at individuals, weather forecasts have to adapt to fit in with these changes.
Within the scientific community, there is a lot of excitement about the possibilities that new technologies in weather forecasting and in communication open up. In September, Meterology experts from the University of Reading will present at a national meeting, hosted by the Royal Meteorological Society, focused on the communication of weather forecasts.
The meeting will bring together experts from Meteorology, Psychology, Information Design, Health and many other fields to think far into the future about how our weather forecasts might change and be shaped to meet the growing needs of society.
We want you, as the people who ultimately use these forecasts, to contribute to this meeting - you can attend the meeting, in person or online, or you can send us your thoughts beforehand. We are seeking ideas from the public about what you might like to see our weather forecasts look like in ten years’ time. You can submit ideas in any form - as text, pictures, animations, videos – and they can be as wacky and off-the-wall as you like.
We’d like you to think about:
- What the forecast should contain.
- How the forecast could be presented and delivered.
- The kind of timescales over which you want your weather forecasts: do you want/need longer term outlooks or increased precision and detail about the day ahead?
- Which parts of the weather you want/need information about: does this just cover traditional weather variables like temperature, wind and rain or should it include the impacts of weather on our environment, health and well-being?
- How uncertainty is presented: do you want to see the full range of possibilities that our weather forecasts predict or do you want forecasters to tell you only about the most likely outcome? What would help you understand the forecast better?
- How the weather is put into context: should forecasts show how conditions differ to a typical day or season, should they include updates on how conditions have evolved during the past month or two and should they try to discuss climate and how this is changing?
- How weather forecasts are provided and delivered: which devices do they need to be on? How do we deal with the problem of multiple, possibly conflicting forecasts from different sources, delivered by different technologies?
- How targeted should our forecasts be: should targeted information be provided about how weather will affect you today or do you need a wider perspective about what is happening elsewhere and why?
- What else would you like to see on the weather forecast? What new and innovative things would you like to see included?
All of the ideas will be presented at the meeting in September, which is open to the public and free to attend, so we encourage you to come along and discuss your ideas in person. The most innovative ideas that we receive (as judged by our panel of expert speakers) will receive a 2018 Society calendar, and some of them will be included in a future article in the journal Weather.
So it’s time to get creative and think about the future of our forecasts: Is this really a message impossible, or can a bit of lateral thinking make a real difference to the way we talk and think about one of our national obsessions?