Extreme weather on the increase?
The weather of recent years has prompted many to declare that 'extreme' events are increasing - both in their frequency and scale of impact. Our project places recent events within an historical context, to investigate not only the timing and impacts of weather extremes but also the processes by which certain events enter the cultural memory of a community (the 'extreme' winter of 1947, the 'extreme' summer of 1976, the 'extreme' floods of 2007), whilst others are quickly forgotten.
Extreme weather events are as much social texts as material occurrences – as well as being biophysical events, they are also socially and culturally constructed and interpreted. Through the use of archival materials we can investigate how one event was described in relation to earlier events of a similar type, and why they were judged to be 'extreme'.
On these pages and in the project as a whole, we'll be exploring both historical and contemporary extreme weather events, their impacts and the ways that they have been understood, remembered and recorded. These different forms of remembering and recording the past represent central media through which information on past events is curated, recycled and transmitted across generations. In this regard, experience or awareness of unusual or extreme events can effectively condition how people comprehend and respond to the problems of risk and uncertainty with respect to the timing and impact of extreme events in the future.
You can also use the weather websites listed on the right to find out more, and subscribe to our blog for more stories from the archives and commentaries on contemporary extreme weather events.