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Professor John E Thornes Professor of Applied Meteorology University of Birmingham Cultural Climatology & the Visualisation of Climate Change.

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Presentation on theme: "Professor John E Thornes Professor of Applied Meteorology University of Birmingham Cultural Climatology & the Visualisation of Climate Change."— Presentation transcript:

1 Professor John E Thornes Professor of Applied Meteorology University of Birmingham Cultural Climatology & the Visualisation of Climate Change


3 Breugal Hunters in the Snow: Little Ice Age

4 Art a Proxy for Climate Change? Lamb detected increased cloudiness in Little Ice Age –small sample of 200 paintings Neuberger (1967) examined 12,284 paintings in 41 art museums in 17 cities in 9 countries. Also detected Little Ice Age All artists subconsciously depict climate? Some more consciously than others?

5 CULTURAL CLIMATOLOGY The critical examination of the impact of climate on culture and the impact of culture on climate. Culture and Climate: You cant have one without the other Visual Turn/Visual Literacy Theory of Pictures/Picturing Theory Visualising Climate Change


7 Atmospheric Services GWPEntityService Type 1The air that we breathe1.5O 2, N 2 etcProvisioning 2Combustion of fuel1.5O2O2 Provisioning 3The extraction of atmospheric gases<0.1O 2, N 2 etcProvisioning 4The redistribution of water services1.0H2OH2OSupporting 5The cleansing capacity of the atmosphere & dispersion of air pollution 1.0OH, Wind, Temp Regulating 6Direct use of the atmosphere for ecosystems and agriculture 1.0CO 2, N 2, SolarProvisioning & Supporting 7Direct use of the atmosphere for communication and transport 1.0Density, Pressure Supporting 8Direct use of the atmosphere for power0.15Wind, SolarProvisioning 9Protection from radiation, plasma and meteors 50DensitySupporting 10Natural global warming of 33 degrees Celsius 50CO 2, CH 4, H 2 O etc Supporting 11Atmospheric Recreation & climate tourism0.2Sun, Wind, Clouds + Cultural 12Aesthetic, spiritual and sensual properties of the atmosphere <0.1Sky, clouds +Cultural

8 Picturing Theory






14 observations natural and anthropogenic forcings natural forcings only (solar+volcanic) Causes for climate change (attribution) (IPCC AR4, WG1) Observed changes are - consistent with expected response to a combination of natural and anthropogenic forcings - inconsistent with alternative explanations global mean temperature 1900 – 2005 observations: black multi-model ensemble mean: red and blue

15 Cultural Representations

16 The Next Generation (XRWIS) RouteForecast: ENTICE Technology Ltd Route-by-route suggested action based on underlying RST and condition forecasts.

17 Atmospheric Art Atmospheric Art is a new genre to describe works of art that are not only directly representational of form & process in the atmosphere such as Constables Cloud Series or Monets London Series but also works of art that are clearly nonrepresentational and performative such as Eliassons Installations and Turrells Skyspaces. Theory of Pictures

18 Merleau-Ponty As I contemplate the blue of the sky, I am not set over against it as an acosmic subject.... I am the sky itself as it is drawn together and unified, and as it begins to exist for itself; my consciousness is saturated with this limitless blue. (1962)

19 We see nothing truly till we understand it John Constable Landscape Noon: The Haywain 1821 John Constable

20 Atmospheric Art Sky: a fantastic natural light show - Cyanometer Atmosphere: aerial perspective, wind and air pollution Weather: clouds, rain, fog, thunderstorms, sunshine, overcast Light: sun, moon, rainbows, crepuscular rays etc Climate: vegetation, season, clothing Climate Change: air pollution, flooding, drought, harvest failure, new crops

21 Letter to Revd John Fisher 23rd October 1821 I have done a great deal of skying I have often been advised to consider my skey - as a White Sheet drawn behind the objects The skey is the key note - the standard of scale and the chief organ of sentiment But these remarks do not apply to accidental effects of skey



24 Sepr. 10. 1821, Noon, gentle Wind at West. Very sultry after a heavy shower with thunder. accumulated thunder clouds passing slowly away to the south East. Very bright and hot. All the foliage sparkling with the wet Howard stated Some thunder around noon: heavy showers Other weather data agrees 54 weather inscriptions have survived Possible to use weather evidence to date 15 studies

25 New Constable Sky

26 Turner The Fighting Temeraire 1838

27 David Cox Sun, Wind, and Rain ( Watercolour) 1845

28 David Cox Clouds 1857



31 Monets Mission in London For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life, the air and the light, which vary continually…For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere that gives subjects their true value. Lenveloppe Instantanaity





36 How often can we see the sun setting over the Houses of Parliament?? Probably only on average once a week – less in winter 1900??

37 W1572 Sun azimuth 121.7 ° altitude +7.99 ° 114 ° 119 ° 121.7 ° 125.5 ° +2.33 ° -0.37 ° +7.99 ° -4.23 ° W1572: Waterloo Bridge, le soleil dans le brouillard (the sun in the fog) London : Private Collection, 73 x 92 cm Range of possible dates: February 15 th – February 19 th at 8:14 – 8:17am


39 Non-representational/ Performative Atmospheric Art

40 Walter De Maria The Lightning Field 1977

41 Antony Gormley Angel of the North 1998

42 Olafur Eliasson 2003 The Weather Project

43 James Turrell Skyspace 2006


45 CULTURAL CLIMATOLOGY Ruskin stated that:..the scientific and imaginative study of clouds, weather and climate cannot be divorced from the issues of society. We can all still learn from Ruskin s call that sustainable art is dialectically linked to a sustainable environment

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