Risk, Blame, and Expertise: The Meteorological Office and extreme weather in post-war Britain

  • Alexander Hall

    Student thesis: Phd


    This thesis explores the post-war history of the British Meteorological Office (MO), which saw the development of public weather services and a more prominent profile for the organisation in British public life. Situated within a post-war growth in the scientific civil service and the government's use of science in policy making, the emergence of MO extreme weather warnings and forecasts afforded the organisation an authoritative expert position. Part of meteorology's twentieth century professionalisation, the services developed through the application of advances in meteorological practice and technologies, significantly altered the organisation's public profile and status as a scientific expert body.By considering these developments the thesis illuminates how, as the MO increasingly presented forecasts and warnings to all sectors of British society, they became managers of the risks posed by extreme weather. Through exploring these historical developments at the MO, we see a broader narrative emerge on how the communication of risk by scientific experts interacts with public expectations and manifestations of blame. Central to the narrative presented is the role of extreme weather events themselves in affecting response, policy developments, new MO warning services, and the manifestation of blame.
    Date of Award31 Dec 2012
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorJames Sumner (Supervisor) & Simone Turchetti (Supervisor)


    • Met Office
    • blame
    • risk
    • meteorology
    • expertise
    • extreme weather

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