Robert Naylor

Daniel - Iain Gallacher-12

Waltzing with the Weather: Weather Information in the Optimisation of UK Supply Systems 1944-Present

Current Research

This project will investigate how atmospheric knowledge transferred into public and private activity since the Second World War, and how public and private organisations recognised opportunities presented by stochastic weather events. I will ask how organisations constructed weather as an economic variable which then became internalised in the national economy, and how weather information came to be seen as an essential tool in everyday operational procedure. Specifically, this dissertation will attempt to understand the role of weather in the optimisation of supply systems, asking how optimisation affected the capacity of these systems to accommodate or exploit exogenous factors.  These supply systems include electricity, gas, water, and retail for seasonal items. Weather forecasts provide an important methodology for forecasting demand – umbrellas are bought when it is raining, lights are switched on when it is overcast, and central heating is used when it is cold. Understanding the demand for commodities is central to the optimisation of supply systems, meaning less power stations are uselessly powered up for operating reserve ‘just in case’, less umbrellas are manufactured in a drought, and less warehouses are needed for unsold produce. In addition, weather is used to optimise the paths of airliners and ships, allowing the most efficient use of fuel when delivering their items in international supply chains. This project conceptualises the weather not as an existential threat which causes systems to fail, but as a useful resource which can be integrated into systems to make them more effective on a day-to-day basis.

Previous Study

  • MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester

Dissertation title:

Atmosfear Unleashed: US Reactions to Climate Anomalies 1971-73

  • MPhys Physics

School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester (with year abroad at the Physics Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz)