I was away all of last week on a mini UK-research tour. I had some work to do with people in Leicester, including with somone who has just finished doing a PhD with me and who has a couple of really interesting projects that we’re trying to finish (if they read this, I promise I’ll send that info tomorrow 🙂 ). After a few days in Leicester, I headed down to Exeter as I also had some work to do with someone there (we got an amazing amount done in a couple of days) and I also gave a seminar to their Astronomy group.
I also got a chance to visit the UK Met Office, which is based in Exeter. Mark McCarthy, who is science manager of the National Climate Information Centre, invited me to visit for a bit of a tour. It was very interesting; I’d just finished reading This Thing of Darkness, a novel about Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy, the captain of the Beagle. Apart from the author thinking highly of Piers Corbyn, it’s really excellent. The Met Office started as a department under Robert Fitzroy, and he spent a lot of his own money on barometers, that he designed and distributed. They had an example of one of his barometers in the library.
I also got a chance to have a chat with John Kennedy, who maintains the sea surface temperature record, and Tyrone Dunbar, who had spent time seconded to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. I didn’t get a chance to meet Richard Betts, as he was busy rocking Glastonbury 😉 . We mostly chatted about climate communication. I’m not sure that we came to any strong conclusions; I think it’s very difficult and I don’t have any great insights. Do your best; be honest; try to be nice (I don’t always succeed, but I’m trying to do better); it’s probably more difficult than you can imagine; it’s important; maybe we should endeavour to be supportive of those who do so. Anything else?
One issue with blogging and tweeting, is that you’re somewhat isolated; you don’t always get a sense of how it’s being received and it’s sometimes hard to interpret tone from what others say online. It’s therefore nice to actually meet people and have a chance to have a proper conversation. In the context of my blogging, I’ve only done it a few times, but it’s always been pleasant, I’ve always learned something, and it’s always helped to clarify things. Of course, there may be some for whom this would not be the case.