Met Office Chief Scientist nominated for Public Servant of the Year in Women in Public Life Awards

7 06 2011

Prof. Julia Slingo OBE has been nominated for Public Servant of the Year in Women in Public Life Awards 2011.

Her citation from the Women in Public Life Awards says:

Professor Julia Slingo OBE is widely recognised as a world-leading scientist in her own right. Since February 2009 she has served as Met Office Chief Scientist providing inspirational leadership of science in the Met Office, and in the wider UK and international community. A leading authority on weather and climate science, she frequently speaks to her peers, the media and the public to promote a common understanding of the issues and impacts associated with natural hazards, weather and climate science. Her previous roles include Director of Climate Research in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science where she led climate research from UK academic institutions, and Founding Director of the Walker Institute for Climate System Research at the University of Reading. Julia is also the first woman to be President of the Royal Meteorological Society, a post she held since 2008.

‘Julia is one of very few women to join the influential group of Government chief scientific advisers. Last year’s volcanic eruption in Iceland and subsequent closure of European airspace provided a keen test of her leadership and communication skills, in providing the scientific advice underpinning the UK’s response to the crisis. Throughout this rapidly changing event, she provided Government with expert advice on the distribution of volcanic ash across international airspace. She also provided the leadership needed to quickly implement new science to meet the changing requirements of the aviation community. Importantly, despite considerable pressure from the media and a number of understandably worried airlines, Julia ensured advice was impartial, evidence based and delivered with the highest scientific integrity. This has been acknowledged through a Select Committee enquiry. Julia’s passion and drive for her science, and its impacts on people, is infectious. This passion is never more evident than when she is briefing and advising Government officials and politicians, or speaking in the media. In the last year she has, for example, appeared on BBC Newsnight and provided an authoritative voice for the Independent and Nature on a range of subjects including the flooding in Pakistan and Australia, and the cold winter conditions in the UK. Recognising Julia’s major role during an unprecedented year of global natural hazards, the American Geophysical Union invited her to deliver the prestigious AGU Frontiers of Geophysics keynote lecture to its annual conference in December 2010.’

The Awards celebrate women leaders in society and seek to recognise and promote the work of women in politics, business, the civil service and community leadership. The ceremony will take place on 13 September.





Met Office Chief Scientist at the AGU Autumn Meeting

14 12 2010

The Moscone Conference Center, location of the AGU Fall Meeting

The Moscone Convention Center, location of the AGU Fall Meeting

They say that this is the biggest science meeting of any year and with just one look at the crowds surrounding the 2010 meeting in San Francisco it’s hard to argue against that.

Over 15,000 scientists representing every colour and creed of the geophysical disciplines are gathered at the huge Moscone Convention Center to deliver and debate the big topics of the moment.

The Met Office‘s Julia Slingo is among them. Our Chief Scientist is here at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting to deliver a presentation on what she sees as the scientific challenges facing society in making us more resilient to natural hazards.

We live a lifestyle that makes us increasingly vulnerable to all sorts of hazards, be they related to extreme weather or geological phenomenon such as the Eyjafjallajökull eruption. 2010 has provided the world with many examples of just how exposed we are to these kinds of event.

As well as that volcanic eruption that had such a devastating impact on air travel right across the world, extreme rainfall in Pakistan and China and record-breaking temperatures in Russia this past summer have caused tragically high loss of life and massive damage to the infrastructure of those countries. And currently the UK is in the grip of its worst early winter for many years. So what can be done to address this? 

In her talk, Professor Slingo says we need to be able combine work from different areas of science and deliver increased computing capacity to provide better answers to the problems faced by society today.

But more than this it is imperative we look at what computer weather and climate prediction models tell us in a different way. We should focus more on making a quantified assessment of the probability of a certain outcome so that we can provide the sort of advice needed to combat what may be an increasing frequency of such dangerous weather.

And while our models are by no means the finished article they do tell us some things well enough. High temperatures across parts of Russia were clearly signalled by seasonal prediction models and the risk of record-breaking extremes was identified in a small, but significant, number of the ensemble members.

Professor Slingo believes we have the basic building blocks required to deliver better predictions of weather extremes, but it is becoming increasingly obvious we need to link different scientific disciplines to fully counter the threats posed by them. Our increasing vulnerability makes that vital.








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