About the project

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.

Project details

'Spaces of experience and horizons of expectation: the implications of extreme weather events, past, present and future' is a three year study funded by the AHRC under their priority theme ‘Care for the future : thinking forward through the past’. The title of the project is based on work by Reinhart Koselleck: Futures past: on the semantics of historical time, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1985.

The project runs from December 2013 to December 2016 and represents an investigation of extreme weather events in the UK.

Partner organisations

The project team are working alongside respresentatives from 3 partner organisations:

The Climate Change Consortium for Wales (C3W) is also supporting the project. The project team is collaborating with these non academic organisations at all stages of the research process, from the identification of historical sources and facilitation of access to archival collections and data, to research dissemination and public engagement through the production of educational resources, public talks and an interactive touring exhbition.

Institutional partners