University of Nottingham

Cultural spaces of climate

Project outline

The purpose of this network was to draw together representatives from the arts and humanities, the broader research community, learned and professional societies, including the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers and the Royal Meteorological Society and amateur enthusiast groups, to identify ways to redress the global and scientific bias in climate discourses, to explore the meaning of climate for different groups of people in different spatial and temporal contexts and to interrogate climate's ontological status. 

Garden weather station. Photo: Georgina Endfield.
Garden weather station

Network aims

Climate change has been catapulted into global centre stage, becoming one of the dominant environmental concerns of the 21st century. In the process, popular, local discourses of climate have been replaced by a global, scientific meta-narrative. Although climate change has been subject to considerable scrutiny by the physical sciences, recent scholarship has argued for a re-examination of the 'idea' of climate and its culturally and spatially variable dimensions, with contributions from the humanities and social sciences.

A particular goal has been to bridge communication gaps between global, scientific climate change narratives and local, cultural narratives of climate, including those more sceptical of anthropogenic climate change. 


The project held a series of interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral workshops: 

Workshop 1: 'Re-culturing Climate'

Location: Machicado Conference Suite, Willoughby Hall, University of Nottingham
Date: 3rd December 2010

The first workshop involved presentations by network participants, including David Matless, Brigitte Nerlich, Adam Trexler, Russell Hitchings and John Thornes, and a keynote speaker, James Roger Fleming. Group discussions focussed on ways to incorporate arts and humanities perspectives into contemporary climate research, media representation of climate change issues and climate discourses.

Workshop 2: 'Historicising Climate'

Location: Royal Geographical Society-with the Institute of British Geographers, Kensington Gore, London
Date: March 16th 2011

This workshop addressed how historical perspectives can offer insight into the changing nature of the relationship between climate and people and different cultural attitudes to climate over time. The purpose was also to bring historical materials into wider public and professional circulation and illustrate their use in developing narratives of climates past and present. This workshop involved presentations by network participants, including David Livingstone, Simon Naylor, Michael Hebbert and Vladimir Jankovic and Cerys Jones, group discussions, a keynote speaker, Jan Golinski, and an opportunity to explore the manuscript collections, prints and photographs, film, artefacts, maps and other holdings at the RGS-IBG.

Workshop 3: 'Popularising Climate'

Location: The Royal Meterological Society, Reading
Date: 25th June 2011

The final workshop concentrated on the involvement of amateur/enthusiast communities to establish how they might become more involved as intermediaries between the public, academic and professional domains. This dovetails with 'Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) objectives aimed at improving the way in which communities in the UK with different cultural backgrounds and belief systems understand - and can live - with climate change. This workshop included presentations by Catherine Brace Leyshon and Hilary Geoghegan, Carol Morris, Georgina Endfield, representatives from the Climatological Observers Link (COL), The Cloud Appreciation Society (CAS), the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO) and the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS).


The Cultural Spaces of Climate network has been exceptionally productive during and beyond the life of the Landscape and Environment Programme. Of particular note in terms of direct outputs is a guest-edited (Endfield and Morris) special issue of Climatic Change, Volume 113, issue 1 (2012), which featured papers by a number of contributors to the network (Geoghegan and Leyshon, Endfield and Morris, Jankovic and Hebbert, Hulme, Livingstone, Jones, Davies and Macdonald). This is a high impact factor journal that tends to publish across a wide range of climate subjects but predominantly from a more science perspective so the inclusion of these more arts and humanities based papers was something of a turning point.

Conversations and contacts generated by the network continue in the form of a new network of postgraduates and early-career researchers who were brought together by the 'Cultural Spaces of Climate' workshop series. A launch event for the network took place in Autumn 2011.

Copies of presentations, notes and reports resulting from the workshops have been deposited with the Chilterns Observatory Trust, a charity founded by freelance weather writer, Philip Eden (on the network’s steering committee), intended to provide a focal point for public access to a wide range of publications and archived weather data. It is intended that materials resulting from the network will also feed into the RGS-IBG/ MetS 'Climate4Classrooms' initiative.


Ongoing influence

The real success of this network is perhaps most apparent in its successful bid for further research funding from the AHRC. In keeping with ethos of the networks, and the Programme more broadly, the Cultural Space of Climate network fostered partnerships with two non-HEIs, the Royal Meteorological Society and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG). Highlighting the importance of such collaborative relationships, these scholarly societies were subsequently involved in the successful development of four further research grant applications to the AHRC, with investigators on this and on other related networks:

  1. Weather walks, weather talks: exploring popular climate histories and futures (2012-13)
  2. Snow Scenes: Exploring the role of Place in Weather Memories (2013-14)
  3. Spaces of Experience and Horizons of Expectation: the implications of extreme weather events, past, present and future (2013-16)
  4. The Power and the Water: Connecting Pasts with Futures (2013-16).
Weather diary (Derbyshire Record Office)


Award details

Duration: July 2010 - October 2011

Principal Investigator:
Dr Georgina Endfield

Dr Carol Morris

Higher Education Institution:
School of Geography, University of Nottingham


Archive materials:
Presentations deposited at Chilterns Observatory Trust


Endfield and Morris edited a Special Issue of the high impact journal Climactic Change, in which many network members published papers:

Georgina, E. and C. Morris  (2012) Editorial: Cultural spaces of climate Climatic Change, 113 (1) 1-5

Geoghegan, H. and C. Leyshon (2012) On climate change and cultural geography: farming on the Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall, UK Climatic Change, 113 (1) 55-66

Vladimir Janković and Michael Hebbert (2012) Hidden climate change – urban meteorology and the scales of real weather Climatic Change 113 (1) 23-33

Georgina Endfield and Carol Morris (2012) Exploring the role of the amateur in the production and circulation of meteorological knowledge Climatic Change, 113 (1) 69-89

David Livingstone (2012)Reflections on the cultural spaces of climate, Climatic Change, 113 (1) 91-93

C. Jones, S. Davies and N. Macdonald (2012) Examining the social consequences of extreme weather: the outcomes of the 1946/1947 winter in upland Wales, UK, Climatic Change, 113 (1) 35-53

Mike Hulme (2012) Telling a different tale: literary, historical and meteorological readings of a Norfolk heatwave, Climatic Change, 113 (1) 5-21


Network partners


RMetS logo

Related links


Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071