REMS at home - An Environmental Miscellany

28 January 2013

On 10 January, 71 members and guests were educated and entertained by 5 invited speakers.

Keri Nicoll

The meeting was organised and orchestrated by George Freeman, who unfortunately could not attend during recuperation following an operation. Mike Quinton introduced the speakers.

The Barometer and its early use in forecasting on land and on sea
Anita McConnell read a very detailed story from the early days of finding out why water cannot be lifted more the 9 meters in a pump to the first successful, but short lived network of weather predicting stations.

The Story of Navigation from 2000BC to 2020AD
From the outset we decided that Jeremy Batch would get as far as he could in 50 minutes to leave time for questions.  In a very clear, gentle and superbly illustrated and amusing way he surveyed the contributions of the world’s civilisations for the tools needed for navigation.

The RNLI and its Boats
David Richmond-Coggan, took us through the history of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and showed some pretty hair-raising videos.  He apologised for showing the latter straight after lunch, but they did illustrate just what he was talking about.

Radiosondes: their history and importance
Keri Nicoll, came from the Department of Meteorology at Reading University to address us.  

Thousands of radiosondes, containing a variety of sensors, are released around the world every day at midday and midnight into the upper atmosphere to aid weather forecasting and research by recording a vertical profile of temperature, pressure, humidity, cloud height and so on.  

Keri’s own work involves developing sensors for other measurements that are light enough to piggyback on radiosondes to keep costs to a minimum.  

Vegetation patterns in meadows are explained by patterns in hydrology

Professor David Gowing began by showing some beautiful pictures of wild flowers in a flood plain meadow lying between the River Thames and the River Churn.  

The question was, “Why did the various species clump together and sort themselves into particular areas of the meadow, when the ground appeared to be the same everywhere?”  

Each talk drew a number of questions and answers and more questions, which is just as it should be.