It’s official! We’re obsessed: discussing the weather is most ‘British’ trait


A poll of 2,000 people found discussing the weather is the most stereotypical ‘British’ trait, ahead of drinking tea and queuing.

  • This British Science Week (8-17 March), the British Science Association and Operation Weather Rescue are asking Brits to use their weather obsession to help climate change researchers

  • Find out more and get involved at 

Discussing the weather is our most stereotypical ‘British’ trait, ahead of drinking tea and queuing, finds a poll of 2,000 people undertaken for British Science Week which takes place 8-17 March 2019. This year the British Science Association, which coordinates British Science Week, has partnered with Operation Weather Rescue. They’re asking weather-obsessed Brits to take part in a citizen science project that will help unlock questions about our weather and changing climate.

Tapping into our passion for the weather, the British Science Association is hoping to inspire a nation of ‘sofa scientists’ to participate in a large-scale citizen science project during British Science Week, that will help contribute to new discoveries and unlock answers to questions about our weather and changing climate. The goal is to digitise as many pieces of data as possible to give us a better understanding of the climate from the past and will help us to predict what the future could look like.

British Science Association and Operation Weather Rescue have identified two decades’-worth of historically significant data covering the period of 1860-1880. The public are being asked to transcribe this data from handwritten weather reports from the period into a computer programme to build a picture of how the weather in that period changed over time.

One of the biggest challenges that researchers face is access to historical data sets – there are millions of pages of data held in archives around the world that have never been digitised. By understanding the patterns in this historic weather, scientists can build a more accurate picture and look at implications for climate change today. If we can better understand how the weather has already changed, we’ll be able to predict what’s coming – and we need as long records as possible to do that. Often some of the most severe weather events occurred in the past, so improving our understanding of them provides more information about the range of possible weather we might expect to see in future.

Without the public’s contribution to digitising these records, it would take the research team years to enter the information themselves, and so the BSA hopes that, during British Science Week we can make a real contribution to this important research. Through uploading these data records, scientists and meteorologists across the globe will have access to historic raw data from this period for the first time.

Katherine Mathieson, Chief Executive, British Science Association says:

Everyone can get involved in science and British Science Week is the perfect way for people of all backgrounds, ages and interests to take part in a project like Operation Weather Rescue. We hope to inspire a nation of sofa scientists – igniting that spark that encourages people to take action and make a real difference. We encourage everyone to get involved to help us get through as much of the data as possible”

 Professor Ed Hawkins, Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading and NCAS, who is the project lead for Operation Weather Rescue, says:

Getting involved this British Science Week is a great opportunity to make a real contribution to ongoing climate research. We hope people across the country will join us in taking part in this vital project. As the world warms, the data will provide a baseline to help us measure weather changes and monitor climate change, which will have impacts for people, communities and environments across the world.”

 The Operation Weather Rescue team includes researchers from the University of Reading who will use the data entered by the public to better examine storms and unusual weather events in the future. The project is funded by the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the Natural Environment Research Council. The scanned images used in the project have been provided by the archive at the Met Office.

 Find out more and get involved at, and use #weatherrescue and #BSW19 on social media to let us know you’re taking part!