Met Office Integrated Data Archive System (MIDAS)
Escalated to data holder
Data request description:
Surface weather observations over land area of UK
The data is available but the licensing terms are too restrictive
The UK surface weather observations in the Met Office's MIDAS database is freely available for on-line access to UK academics (defined as persons with a .AC.UK email address) through the British Academic Data Centre (BADC), but is not directly available to the public or UK industry. Met Office charges for commercial use are prohibitively expensive and ultimately self-defeating as the hourly synoptic reports (SYNOP and METAR) are shared worldwide for aviation use and the US National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) makes these data available at a nominal cost, but without quality control. The current Met Office policy for access to quality-controlled MIDAS datasets is contrary to EC Directive 2003/4/EC on public access to environmental information and EC Directive 203/98/EC on re-use of public sector information which direct that these data should be made available to the public for a charge that compensates only for the cost of access. As the framework for on-line access to MIDAS is already in place, there is no additional cost for providing public access, except (possibly) an administration charge for registration.
Surface weather data: wind, temperature, rainfall, etc. are important inputs to engineering design, particularly of the built environment, e.g. the structural design of buildings to resist wind storms. Research in this area is not part of the Met Office mandate. Increasingly sophisticated structural design methods require increasingly detailed data for proper implementation. For example, a comprehensive wind climate model for each of the major UK cities is long overdue and is impractical to achieve under current MetO data restrictions.
The economic case that the benefit to the national economy of making geographical information freely available to industry has already been made by the EC and resulted in Directives 2003/4/EC and 2003/98/EC. Direct access to the MIDAS data will permit development of better analysis and design methodologies, climate models for engineering design and for wind power generation.