Field of wildflowers
Parched earth, UK

The UK strand of the Trans.MISSION II collaboration between Hay Festival and the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) features British writer and journalist Patrice Lawrence and scientists Dr Sarah Ayling, Professor Lindsey McEwan and their team of experts at the DRY project. Using the project's work as inspiration, Patrice has 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. 

Dr Sarah Ayling is a plant physiologist based at the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at UWE Bristol. She has studied the effects of drought and the root environment on plant growth in the UK, USA and Australia. Sarah is experienced in nutrient transport, ion-imaging and water relations. In her spare time, she is actively involved with local conservation groups and environmental education activities.

Professor Lindsey McEwen is Professor of Environmental Management within the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and Director of the Centre for Water, Communities and Resilience (CWCR). As a geographer, she designs and delivers innovative interdisciplinary co-produced research in different hazard settings for 'impact'. Over 30 years, her research interests include: flood histories/archives, water risk management (flood-drought continuum), the integration of specialist and lay knowledge to support local risk decision-making; water science communication/ education and community-based research and learning.

The Drought Risk and You Project (DRY) investigates the impacts that droughts and water shortage can have on the environment, agriculture, infrastructure, society and culture, affecting us all. The DRY project was founded in April 2014, with an aim to develop an easy-to-use, evidence-based resource to inform decision-making for drought risk management in the UK over a four year period. The project spans seven catchment areas in England, Wales and Scotland to reflect different hydrological, socio-economic and cultural contexts in the UK.

The work launched at Hay Festival in Wales, 21–31 May 2020. Trans.MISSION II is the first international public engagement collaboration project for NERC, with new pieces of work launched at Hay Festival events in Arequipa, Peru (7–10 November 2019) and Cartagena, Colombia (30 January–2 February 2020). 

Trans.MISSION II is a global project pairing leading environmental researchers with award-winning storytellers to communicate cutting-edge science to new audiences. At a time of unprecedented public interest in how human actions affect the environment, Trans.MISSION II paired NERC researchers from Peru, Colombia and the UK with artists and storytellers in each country to create stories about ongoing research projects.

Download an illustrated transcript of 'Day Zero and Chips' by Patrice Lawrence