Faculty of Environment

Focus on the Festival of Science: The Weather Roadshow

Dr Lindsay Bennett is an Instrument Scientist for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, based in the School of Earth and Environment. She is responsible for the mobile radar acquired by NCAS in January 2012, the only mobile radar of its kind in the UK. The radar will be used in field campaigns for research into cloud physics and dynamics. Its first major project is the COnvective Precipitation Experiment (COPE) taking place in Devon and Cornwall during Summer 2013.  The project aims to improve forecasting of heavy rainfall events that can lead to flash flooding. The radar along with two sophisticated research aircraft will make measurements of each stage of a cloud’s lifecycle, in order to understand the key processes that control rainfall formation and intensity.

Lindsay became a STEM ambassador in 2011 and has been actively involved in outreach activities since.  She is particularly keen for school children to see the exciting and wide ranging opportunities a career in science, and meteorology in particular, can offer. With the help of colleague Dr Sarah Norris and PhD student Jenny Owen from the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS), Lindsay put together a “Weather Roadshow” for the Leeds Festival of Science this year.  The workshop involved an introduction to meteorology careers with a focus on the worldwide fieldwork activities that Lindsay, Jenny and Sarah have participated in, followed by hands-on demonstrations illustrating the basic principles behind cloud formation. The children went outside to see the mobile radar in action and learned how weather stations work, and the workshop finished with a look at weather data and a forecasting quiz.

The weather did almost everything it could to scupper plans for the Roadshow by being the coldest March since 1962 along with several disruptive snowfall events!  Despite this, the Roadshow was able to go ahead with two of the three schools planned, and feedback from both teachers and pupils was extremely positive.

“The Weather Roadshow was one of the best Leeds Uni presentations we have had. The three presenters were very effective and professional. Really good Science pervaded through the whole two hour presentation.” Robin Challinor, Cardinal Heenan High School

“I loved the experiments” Pupil’s comment