Weathering the storm: TEMPEST engagement with the national weather memory

  • Davies, Sarah (PI)
  • Endfield, Georgina H (PI)
  • Veale, Lucy (Researcher)

Project: Externally funded research

Project Details


Knowledge of climate change has tended to remain in the scientific realm. Yet it is not only advances in science but local observations and experiences in nature and oral histories that can prove useful in helping to conceptualise and understand how weather and its variations affect and have affected people at the local level. Local, lay or 'experiential' weather is assuming new importance as a legitimate source of knowledge, and communication of climate change risk is thought to be more effective and appropriately targeted if it takes into account these relevant personal and vicarious experiences in the form of narrative, memories and anecdotes. One way to achieve a (re)engagement of people with climate is by inviting them to reflect on their local weather (past and present). Our proposed follow-on activity will be organised around the theme of weather memory and will capitalise on opportunities that have emerged from the original Care for the Future funded project. We will use the research material now gathered in the TEMPEST database (c. 18,000 event records) i) to develop the design of user interface on TEMPEST and produce a short tutorial/demonstration video, ii) to write a series of place-specific historical weather stories and collate these in the form of a research guide, iii) to support the development of a 'tour ready' version of 'The Storm Officer'. Each output is public-facing and will be widely circulated in print/ on line using existing project communication channels, those of the Archives and Records Association, and at the public events that lie at the heart of this follow-on activity. The overall aim is to demonstrate TEMPEST's utility among a range of users and to engage people with local weather memory and heritage. Through a formal partnership with the Archives and Records Association and return visits to a number of the Local Government Record Offices (LGROs) and National Collections from which we have drawn both materials and research advice, we hope to inform staff and archive users of our findings and to highlight the utility of their collections for weather history, identifying possible actions for future cataloguing and collecting practice and volunteer-led projects. The place-specific story guide will be available for the LGROs to use and will be designed to enable and encourage each archival repository to identify new connections with other collections and archival repositories within and across regions.
The research team will also work alongside poet and writer Matt Black and his creative team to develop a 'tour ready' version of 'The Storm Officer'. Matt's first play was inspired by the contents of the TEMPEST database and previewed in March 2017. Five new performances (all free to attend) will be staged during the period of the follow-on. The locations for the performances have been chosen to match those where rich documentary weather heritages have already been explored by the project team. Each will involve direct engagement with weather histories specific to the place of performance, drawing on the research material already collected by the researchers and now held in the TEMPEST database. Live performances will be enriched through researcher led pre-show workshops that will focus on the archival materials available for weather history in that particular place (using the place-specific weather stories and video as starting points), as well as recent experiences of extreme weather. Connections will also be made between the performance and the relevant LGRO and their resources, with staff and volunteers from the LGRO invited to participate in the workshop and attend the performance.
Each element of the Follow-on activity involves creative engagement with non-academic audiences and user communities to stimulate new pathways to impact for the original research, and will expand the utility of research output for a range of new audiences, adding significant value to previous activity.
Effective start/end date01 Nov 201731 Oct 2018


  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/R004595/1): £7,649.14


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