Watch the weather and help survey the climate

03 March 2011

Don't just talk about the weather or leisurely watch the clouds pass by. Get your pen and paper out and put those sightings to good use and take part in the OPAL (Open Air Laboratories) Climate Survey, launched today.

Record wind direction by watching the movement of clouds such as these cumulus clouds

Record wind direction by watching the movement of clouds such as these cumulus clouds

Scientists at the Met Office and the Royal Meteorological Society are exploring our effect on climate and how adaptable we might be to climate change.

'We're asking people to get outside observing and measuring the weather,' Dr Geoff Jenkins of the Met Office explains. 'What they see and record will be useful for checking the systems we use for forecasting weather and predicting climate.'

There are 4 main things to do. Look out for plane trails (contrails), watch cloud movement to record wind direction, blow bubbles to measure wind speed and direction near the ground, and record how hot or cold you feel.

Anyone in England can take part and there's a free survey pack to download from www.opalexplorenature.org/climatesurvey

Ask experts your climate questions at http://www.opalexplorenature.org/OPALClimateCentre including questions about climate change. Met Office Climate Research Scientist Dr Mark McCarthy explains, 'No question is too daft or simplistic. We want people to tell us what confuses them about climate change and we will try to widen their understanding of this difficult topic.'

Dr McCarthy adds, 'Climate change poses many challenges for both the natural environment and human populations worldwide.' 

Look out for plane trails (contrails) to find out if they are warming our climate

Look out for plane trails (contrails) to find out if they are warming our climate

He says of the survey results,  'These new insights will complement and build on our existing research, looking at the potential impacts of climate change through the 21st Century.'

OPAL Community Scientist Sarah West can't wait to begin the survey, 'I love the feeling of taking part in a national science project where my results really count! 

'I'm particularly interested in learning more about contrails and how they can affect our climate. I see them all the time but have never given them much thought, I'll definitely be looking at the skies a bit differently now!'

Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) is a nationwide partnership initiative that inspires communities to discover, enjoy and protect their local environments. It is led by Imperial College London and the Natural History Museum is a partner.

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