Set up and run by researchers from the University of Manchester, the Barometer podcast aims to inform the listener about the wonders of Earth’s atmosphere and climate. The podcast team is made up of scientists working at the Centre for Atmospheric Science (CAS), who produce regular episodes on a wide range of informative and interesting topics.
Whether discussing meteorological phenomena such as hurricanes and tornadoes, examining public health issues such as air quality and pollution, or light-heartedly debating the origins of weather folklore, each episode aims to enlighten and educate in equal measure.
Most podcast episodes lean towards topical, as well as interesting, points of discussion. With the help of several internationally renowned weather experts, the team investigated the destructive power of hurricane Sandy in November 2012, as well as the more recent Oklahoma tornadoes in May of this year.
The more light-hearted features also utilise this approach of informing the listener through well-articulated debate and discussion. For example, in the latest episode, the Barometer team makes a bold forecast for the rest of the summer based upon some ancient weather folklore.
As well as informative podcast episodes, the Barometer team also aims to promote the cutting-edge research being done at the University of Manchester through various outreach activities.
In 2011, as part of the Manchester Science Festival, the podcasters ran a live interactive episode that involved panel discussion and demonstrations in front of an adult studio audience, focusing on the differences between weather and climate.
In 2012, again as part of the Manchester Science Festival, the team designed a set of interactive experiments geared towards school children that illustrated the importance of science in our everyday lives. This work laid the foundation for the National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW) in March 2013, when over 850 local school children from years 5-9 visited the University of Manchester and participated in experiments. The Barometer podcast set up an interactive stall, demonstrating the basics of cloud formation using only a bottle of water and a match! During their time at NSEW, several podcasters caught up with the pupils to find out what they thought of the stall, and how they’d been inspired by what they’d seen and learnt.
Over the coming months the Barometer podcast team has big plans to continue their expansive outreach programme, with a third consecutive appearance at the Manchester Science Festival already booked for autumn 2013. This will double previous efforts and incorporate both an hour-long live episode on 29 October, and an afternoon of interactive and engaging weather-related experiments on 2 November.
In the meantime, with the forthcoming 5th assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the focus of the team will be on climate change. A summary of the physical science basis of the report is published on 27 September 2013, with an episode planned to discuss its findings and implications. Tied in with this, several podcast members will be attending the International Congress of History of Science, Technology and Medicine conference on 26July, hoping to explore historical perspectives on climate change and discuss previous assessment reports of the IPCC with experts from a diverse range of disciplines. Podcasters will interview these distinguished speakers, providing background and context before the release of the next report.
Shorter, fortnightly to monthly episodes will continue to cover interesting weather events from across the globe and to explore the vagaries of weather folklore. If there is a topic that you want covering or a weather myth that you want busting, please let us know so that we can help out!
Links to other resourceshere.