TRANS.MISSION II – UK

Hay Festival and the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) joined forces for Trans.MISSION II, a new global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences. The UK strand saw British writer and journalist Patrice Lawrence paired with scientists Dr Sarah Ayling, Professor Lindsey McEwen from the DRY project. Using the project’s work as inspiration, Patrice and the team have created a piece of creative writing to highlight the issues around UK droughts and water scarcity.

Patrice Lawrence is a British writer and journalist, who has published fiction both for adults and children. Her writing has won awards including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Children and The Bookseller YA Book Prize. 

The work was launched at Hay Festival Online festival on the 25 May 2020. The story, by Patrice Lawrence, is set in the not too distant future when London is running low on water…

More information about the Hay Festival and the Trans.Mission II project.

Book bringing drought research to children wins national award – DRY: Diary of a Water Superhero

A drought storybook for children has won a national award for its beautifully illustrated message about water scarcity in the UK.

In announcing the Geographical Association Publishers’ Silver Award for ‘DRY: Diary of a Water Superhero’ on Thursday, April 16th (2020), judges said ‘… this fantastic picture book found the perfect balance as a powerful personal story line, supported by excellent art work, delivering a range of interesting geographical facts’.

The book, written as a young girl’s diary, has been published by the Drought Risk & You (DRY) Project, which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The story runs over the course of a year and tells how an ordinary schoolgirl in the UK transforms into a water superhero when a dry summer and winter with little rainfall lead to drought. Seeing life through ‘water goggles’, the girl shares her new-found love of water with her school and community, as the drought progresses.

The story and accompanying teacher notes were created by Prof Lindsey McEwen, who heads the DRY project and is Professor of Environmental Management and Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience at the University of the West of England Bristol (UWE); Dr Verity Jones, Senior Lecturer in Education at UWE; Sarah Whitehouse, Senior Lecturer in Education & Humanities at UWE and Dr Sara Williams, an environmental psychologist and researcher. The illustrations by artist Luci Gorell Barnes play a key role in projecting the relevance of the story and the science behind it.

The award was judged on the book’s impact, originality, quality and usability.

DRY: the diary of a water hero won the Silver Geographical Association Publishers’ Award

Prof McEwen said: “Our authoring team are extremely pleased to gain this external recognition for excellence. Our book aims to make new research accessible to, and engaging for, young children. The development of the book and teachers’ notes represents a new successful creative collaboration between University of the West of England Bristol’s Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience and its Primary Education specialists, working together with socially-engaged artist Luci Gorell Barnes.”

The DRY Project is part of About Drought, the UK’s Drought & Water Scarcity Research Programme, funded by NERC as part of UK Research Innovation (UKRI). Three themes of the research are explored in the book: classifying different types of UK droughts and their impacts; interrogating common misconceptions surrounding UK drought; and exploring what actions citizens might take to prepare for drought and how children can be agents for change in rethinking water behaviours.

The full Silver Award citation reads: “The judges thought that this fantastic picture book found the perfect balance as a powerful personal story line, supported by excellent artwork, delivering a range of interesting geographical facts. This results in a book that will engage and empower a KS2 audience studying water or wider environmental issues. The accompanying teacher’s guide is filled with challenging and thought-provoking activities that include developing the concepts of ‘water footprints’ and ‘UK droughts’. They are well designed to deepen pupils’ thinking and facilitate questioning, discussion and debate. The message that we can all be champions of change is a key one and will inspire children to take action.”

DRY: Diary of a Water Superhero is available to read online in English and Welsh

Teacher’s notes are also available https://dryutility.info/learning/ 

Top author turns research into a story for Hay Festival

An award-winning author specialising in teen fiction is writing a story based on About Drought and Drought Risk & You (DRY) research for the world-famous Hay Festival.

Patrice Lawrence, whose novel Orangeboy won the Bookseller Young Adult Prize and the Waterstones Prize for Older Children’s Fiction, has been partnered with About Drought through Trans.MISSIONII, a joint initiative by UKRI NERC and Hay Festival.

About Drought and DRY have already won plaudits for their innovative approach to research, data gathering and communications through storytelling, song, animations, video, cartoons and an educational book for primary school children. Patrice has been meeting with our researchers to plan a creative piece of writing aimed at starting conversations about drought with teenagers and young adults. It will be showcased at this year’s Hay Festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, from May 21-31.

Gripping storytelling for young adults

Renowned for gripping, contemporary writing, often set in black working-class communities, that connects with traditionally hard to reach young adult audiences, Patrice is finding it both stimulating and challenging to work with About Drought.

We met in the bustling Wellcome Collection café in London, swelled by shoppers and commuters sheltering from a late afternoon downpour and next to the Wellcome gift shop’s eclectic display of furry toy microbes, ‘earwax’ fudge and science-themed board games to talk about Patrice’s progress so far.

She immediately ‘confessed’: “I have no scientific background and I haven’t written about science before, so I have no idea why Hay chose me but part of the joy for me in writing is the sheer nosiness!

“I have met with Prof Lindsey McEwen, Dr Sarah Ayling and Dr Jill Thompson from the DRY project to talk through the messages from About Drought’s research and I’m now entwining them into a piece of creative writing.

Realistic look at what 2050 life will be like

“Scientists think differently from authors, I’m picking up little details and I am trying to work out how much creative licence I can have. I want to create characters that reflect the types of science in About Drought and I have been thinking ahead to 2050 – what will be different in the lives of those readers, surprising things that might have become precious and valuable – like water? Will the buildings they live, learn and work in be designed differently to cope with drought? Will we be eating different things? I want to weave those everyday differences into a very realistic portrayal of what life will be like and how we will be using water.”

Although the starting point to this story is very different for Patrice, the process is familiar. Her fiction for teens and young adults is careful not to talk down to readers and is not shy of tackling relevant issues such as crime, racism, housing and ‘lovely’ young characters who nevertheless do bad things, including knife crime.  Patrice is committed to working in schools, encouraging and inspiring young people from all backgrounds to read fiction and to write their own, regardless of their skills in spelling and grammar. While most of her books are set in London where Patrice now lives, she grew up in Sussex in an Italian-Trinidadian family.

With many books for children of all ages and adults to her credit, not to mention awards, Patrice has a successful formula for approaching each project. The approach for About Drought’s Trans.MISSIONII story is no different. She explains: “I always start with characters, I need to know who I am writing about, what the beginning situation is and the end. Then I play with the middle.

“I am writing it as a monologue, a first-person short story set in 2050 and narrated by a teenage character. I would love a young person to read it at the Hay Festival.  Young people’s voices are great. I spend a lot of time on buses, listening to young people chat to each other to capture their voices.

“What motivates me is engaging with teenagers and I do lots of work in schools with marginalised teens. They are not a ‘hard to reach’ audience, it is more that they are not reached in the right way.”

Trans.MISSIONII offers new platform

Patrice’s story will be performed / read at the Hay Festival which will also feature two other research project and artist collaborations – one from Colombia and the other from Peru. All three are aimed at communicating cutting edge science to new audiences through new methods. A video version will also be available.

Andy Fryers, Sustainability Director of Hay Festival, introduced Patrice to About Drought. He said: “We are delighted with this collaboration between the award-winning author Patrice Lawrence and the About Drought research project. Wherever we are in the world, Hay Festival is a home for storytellers, a space for writers and readers to come together and explore the biggest challenges of our time. Trans.MISSIONII offers a new platform for collaboration between storytellers from two different worlds: artists and scientists. We hope that by building this shared space for engagement at the cutting edge of environmental research with NERC, we can find new ways to imagine a better future together.”

Read more about the research, watch videos and listen to podcasts at www.AboutDrought.info

Follow Patrice Lawrence on Twitter @LawrencePatrice

DRY (Drought Risk & You) Final Conference July 3rd

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

Location: UWE Bristol Exhibition and Conference Centre, Filton Rd, Stoke Gifford, Bristol BS34 8QZ

Register: Click here

Interdisciplinary explorations in ‘DRY Thinking’ – bringing together stories and science for better decision-making in UK Drought Risk Management

Come and join the ongoing conversation at the final event for DRY (Drought Risk & You) part of About Drought, the UK’s £12m drought and water scarcity research programme.

Drought in the UK is a pervasive, creeping and hidden risk.  How can ‘the hidden’ be revealed and how can science and stories work together, in this process, to support better decision-making in UK drought risk management?

This conference is the next stage in an ongoing dialogue, not only between different disciplines, but also but between researchers and stakeholders.

Over the past five years, DRY has worked with diverse sectors in seven catchments in England, Scotland and Wales – co-researching droughts past and scenario-ing droughts future, with strong attention to thinking about adaptive solutions and behaviours. DRY has explored how science and narrative can be brought together, in different ways and on different scales, to support statutory and non-statutory decision-making of a wide range of stakeholders, the general public and communities.

Core to this research has been a series of ‘creative experiments’, exploring how science can be used as a stimulus for stories and stories as a stimulus for science.  This has included creative scenario-ing of possible drought futures and explorations in how drought might be visualised using science interweaved with storying.

DRY’s interdisciplinary team has involved drought risk scientists (hydrologists, ecologists, agronomists) working with hazard geographers, social science researchers in health and business, along with those working in media and memory, and applied storytelling.

This conference shares themes researched within the DRY project, including how we might:

  • Rethink ‘drought data’ – its hybridity and variations in scale
  • Explore drought values and perceptions that influence behaviours
  • Scenario future drought working with science and narrative
  • Exploring drought cultures within the UK
  • Develop ‘DRY Thinking’ as a process – Drought Risk and You

The conference will be accompanied by the DRY Exhibition, showcasing resources generated by the DRY process, including the DRY Story Bank, the DRY Utility and DRY Action Learning Resources (e.g. around UK Drought Myths in engagement).

Organised by Professor Lindsey McEwen (UWE, Bristol), Emma Weitkamp (UWE, Bristol), Joanne Garde-Hansen (University of Warwick), Antonia Liguori (Loughborough University), Mike Wilson (Loughborough University) and the DRY consortium

For any further information, please email: DRY@uwe.ac.uk

Report back from Drought & Water Scarcity Conference

Drought and Water Scarcity: addressing current and future challenges, International Conference

View presentations below

This international event was held at Pembroke College, University of Oxford over 20-21 March 2019.

Speakers from around the world gathered to present and discuss their research on drought and water scarcity.  There was an impressive range of data, topics, in-depth knowledge and communication insights which demonstrated the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of research into drought and water scarcity.

Delegates heard that drought and water scarcity are expected to become more severe due to the influence of climate change and pressure on water resources from economic and demographic changes.  The impacts of this affects hydrology, agriculture and farming, industry and communities.  Water and the lack of water effects every aspects of society and the environment, and the lack of water has profound consequences.

You can see the full programme here.

A number of the oral and poster presenters have kindly given permission to share their work.  You can access the presentations by clicking on the links below.

 

Presentations available to view

 

Amanda Fencl, University of California, Davis – “Interconnections between Research on Groundwater, Drought and Climate Change

Anne van Loon, Birmingham University – “Drought in the Anthropocene: vulnerability & resilience

Antonia Liguori, Loughborough University – “Learning around ‘storying water’ to build an evidence base to support better decision-making in UK drought risk management

Ayilobeni Kikon, National Institute of Technology Karnataka – “Application of Optimized Machine Learning Technique in Drought Forecasting Using SPI

Caroline King, CEH; co-authored with Daniel Tsegai, Programme Officer, UNCCD Secretariat – “A review of methods for drought impact and vulnerability assessment

Cedric Laize, TBI & GeoData Institute – “Relationship between a drought-oriented streamflow index and a series of riverine biological indicators

Christopher Nankervis, Weather Logistics Ltd – “Use of Copernicus seasonal climate forecast model data to improve the accuracy of long-term forecasts: the UK Summer Rainfall Insights project.”

Daniela Anghileri, University of Southampton – “Strengthening research capabilities for addressing water and food security challenges in sub-Saharan Africa

Emma Cross, Environment Agency – “The 2018 heatwave; its impacts on people and the environment in Thames Area

Elizabeth Brock, Met Office; Katherine Smart, Anglian Water – “Re-analysis of historical events using up to date extreme value techniques, to determine the return period of historical and stochastic droughts, with particular reference to ‘severe’ or 1 in 200 year return period events

Feyera A. Hirpa, Ellen Dyer, Rob Hope, Daniel O. Olago, Simon J. Dadson, University of Oxford – “Finding sustainable water futures in the Turkwel River basin, Kenya under climate change and variability

Fiona Lobley, Environment Agency – “2018 dry weather and its impacts; looking ahead to 2019

Frederick Otu-Larbi, Lancaster University – “Modelling the effects of drought stress on photosynthesis and latent heat fluxes.

Granville Davies and Miranda Foster, Yorkshire Water – “Water resources in Yorkshire, UK in 2018: drought management, perception and communication

Harry West, University of the West of England, Bristol – “Examining spatial variations in the utility of SPI as a 3-month-ahead environmental drought indicator

Henny van Lanen, Wageningen University & Research – “The 2018 NW European Drought: warnings from an extreme event

Katherine Smart, Anglian Water; Elizabeth Brock, Met Office – “Re-analysis of historical events using up to date extreme value techniques, to determine the return period of historical and stochastic droughts, with particular reference to ‘severe’ or 1 in 200 year return period events

Kerstin Stahl, Freiburg – “Customizing drought indices to improve drought impact monitoring and prediction

Kevin Grecksch, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford – “Achieving water efficiency through social norms in the public sector

Len Shaffrey, NCAS, University of Reading – “Has climate change increased the chance of events like the 1976 North West European drought occurring?”

Lucy Barker, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology – “How severe were historic hydrological droughts in the UK? Insights from a systematic characterisation and ranking of events back to 1891

Mark Smith, Hydro-Logic Services (International) Ltd – “Recent trends in water resources planning and management, and the rising importance of planning processes in reflecting the ‘consequences’ of relevance and interest to customers and stakeholders

Massimiliano Pasqui, CNR – “A customizable drought monitoring and seasonal forecasting service to support different users’ needs

Matt Fry, CEH – “The Historic Droughts Inventory: an accessible archive of past drought impact information for the UK from diverse documentary sources

Miranda Foster and Granville Davies, Yorkshire Water – “Water resources in Yorkshire, UK in 2018: drought management, perception and communication

Mike Morecroft, Natural England – “Drought impacts on the natural environment and lessons for climate change adaptation

Nikos Mastrantonas, CEH – “Drought Libraries for enhanced resilience in long term water resource planning in the UK

Paul Whitehead, University of Oxford – “Impacts of climate change on water quality affecting upland and lowland rivers, wetlands and delta systems

Peter Anthony Cook, NCAS-Climate, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading – “Variations in the West African Monsoon from reanalysis and model results

Peter Kettlewell, Harper Adams University – “Mitigating drought impact on crop yield by applying film-forming polymers

Rob Wilby, Loughborough – “Challenging the mantra of wetter-winters, drier summers in the UK

Ruth Langridge, University of California, Santa Cruz – “Groundwater management in planning for drought: experience from California, USA

Sandra Santos, Wageningen University – “Improving institutional frameworks integrating local initiatives from communities exposed to drought and water scarcity in Ecuador

Stephen McGuire, SEPA – “Assessing the impacts of water scarcity in Northeast Scotland through the summer of 2018.”

Wiza Mphande, Harper Adams University – “Elucidating Drought Mitigation with Antitranspirants in Spring Wheat