The Met Office has been among the first to respond to the NFU’s New Year message that fresh thinking is crucial to increase agricultural resilience after our industry’s weather-beaten 2012.
Chief executive John Hirst invited NFU President Peter Kendall and key staff to the organisation’s world-class facilities in Exeter.
The Met Office is the only weather and climate service in the world. The breadth of its work is astounding, from the delivery of the Public Weather Service and the National Severe Weather Warning Service to the provision of meteorological data for two-thirds of the world’s aviation.
Its weather and climate models are used across the globe because of their high degree of accuracy. Its understanding of and capability to predict our weather has significantly improved through the use of supercomputers and satellites and its UK forecast works on a 1.5km grid square.
Today’s three-day forecast is as accurate as the one-day forecast was 20 years ago.
The organisation highlighted its collaboration with the Institute of Animal Health at Pirbright on tackling Bluetongue; it was the Met Office’s dispersal model that showed how the midge landed on UK shores.
Head of science, Andy Brown, talked about the work they’ve been doing on improving seasonal forecasting, which will be a significant development in meteorological science. Their Weather Observation Website offers amateur meteorologists the opportunity to upload their own data.
Peter Kendall reiterated how 2012 had starkly demonstrated the cost of extreme weather events for farmers and the food supply chain.
Both organisations explored ways of tailoring forecasting to support sustainable intensification.
Climate change will offer new challenges to farmers working to grow food and provide energy in a smarter and more sustainable way and UK agriculture will need the unparalleled resources that the Met Office offers as it prepares to meet such challenges.