Weather observation, climate prediction, food security as well as networking and socialising over lunch - this year, SoGE alumni were invited to enjoy a whole day's worth of programme at Meeting Minds, the Alumni Weekend in Oxford.
On Saturday 19 September the School opened its doors for the third time as part of the University's flagship event for alumni and attracted full lecture theatres of interested alumni from many subject backgrounds.
It's all about the weather
Rad Met. Caption: Observer Amy Creese offers her group a peek behind the Stevenson Screen
For 20 early-birds (who were lucky enough to book early) the day began at Green Templeton College, where observers Amy Creese and Callum Munday led two parallel tours of the Radcliffe Meteorological Station, scientifically managed by the School since 1935. The tours comprised a demonstration of the instruments that form the weather station in the GTC garden as well as a climb up the old Observatory Tower, offering slightly misty but still stunning views of Oxford and Port Meadow. A small exhibition of historical records showed examples of 200 years of continuous weather observations at Oxford (we celebrated this anniversary earlier this year), and the recollections of former observers brought the necessary routines behind these records alive in a very tangible way.
Wild Weather and Sustainable Food
The day's lectures highlighted two particularly topical areas of our current research efforts: Dr Friederike Otto, Scientific Coordinator of climateprediction.net, the world's largest climate modelling experiment, gave insights into how this project can help to find out if climate change is already taking its toll in recently experienced extreme weather events. Dr John Ingram leads ECI's Food Programme and spoke as our expert on Food Security and Environmental Change.
The Herbertson Lunch offered a welcome break to fuel up and meet other SoGE Alumni across the years and courses. Our special guests included emeritus fellows Dr Ian Scargill (St Edmund Hall) and Dr Tony Lemon (Mansfield), former Bodleian Map Curator Betty Fathers (1951, St Anne's) and Joan Kenworthy (1952, St Hilda's) who recently received a Met Office award for her outstanding contribution to the history of meteorology.
Dr Richard Bailey welcomed the crowd gathered in the School's Herbertson Room on behalf of Head of School, Professor Heather Viles, and gave an update on recent news, achievements and alumni activities. In his role as Director of Undergraduate Studies he awarded the departmental Final Honour School prizes to this year's finalists who had come back for this official welcome into the SoGE alumni community.
Find out more about the prize winning finalists
The FHS prize winners 2015: (back:) David Crowhurst (Keble), Fraser Eccles (Christ Church), Thomas Caton Harrison (Hertford) , Robert Krawczyk (St Peter's), Joshua O'Shaughnessy (Keble); (front:) Laura Neilson (Jesus), Lucy Clare Long (Mansfield), Dr Richard Bailey (St Catz), Tim Baxter (St Hilda's); Emma Nelmes (Mansfield) and Amelia Davy (St Catz) were sorry not be with us that day.
Alumnus Peter Brown (1952, St Edmund Hall) raised his glass to the youngest and the oldest Geographer present and with this gesture beautifully bridged across the generations who share a common fascination in the world around them and the discipline that aims to explore it in all its aspects: geography.
"I spent most of the time over lunch talking to this year's prize-winners about their career aspirations and their excellent dissertations, some of which I managed to skim through, and I found that opportunity very interesting. […] Social gatherings like this make me feel very old and young at the same time!" (Martin Harris, 1962, Jesus)