Polar Literacy Project

As science communicators and educators, it can be difficult to evaluate exactly what are the key messages to communicate.

The Polar Literacy Initiative (website: polar-ice.org) has done a great job in highlighting the seven key principles about polar regions that we should aim to communicate. These are the ‘big ideas’ that the general public should know about the Polar Regions.

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What is the ice volume of Thwaites Glacier?

Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is currently the focus of a major scientific campaign. Why is Thwaites Glacier of so much interest, however? How much ice is there, and how much would sea levels rise if it all melted?

Thwaites Glacier is roughly the size of UK (176 x103 km2). The glacier terminus is nearly 120 km wide, and the bed of the glacier reaches to >1000 m below sea level. Pine Island Glacier and Thwaites Glacier together account for 3% of grounded ice-sheet area, but they receive 7% of Antarctica’s snowfall1.

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In defence of reticence

Occasionally, comments on this website call me reticent. I think that this is because I try not to let my personal opinions cloud my professional, scientific judgement. I am proud to be reticent. I always try to be informative, to give values of uncertainties and ranges and assessments of confidence. I try to present both sides of the story, while always relying on peer-reviewed papers published in reputable scientific journals. I try to let the evidence speak for itself. Continue reading

Analysis of www.AntarcticGlaciers.org as a tool for online science communication

Davies, B.J., and Glasser, N.F., 2014. Analysis of www.AntarcticGlaciers.org as a tool for online science communication. Journal of Glaciology 60(220), 399-406.

Download the preprint: Davies_et_al_2014_preprint.

The following is a shorter, simpler version of the published paper.

Science communication for the time-limited academic

Academic research into climate change is driven by pressing human concerns. Because climate change has the potential to seriously affect our society, the effective communication of this research is increasingly important1. As such, increasing numbers of academics and researchers are taking part in public engagement2-4. But a key question is,

How can time-limited academics, who work in full-time positions, implement effective outreach strategies with limited budgets?

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Setting up a science blog

Online science communication

There are as many outlets for science communication as there are scientists doing it. They range from traditional press releases and media interviews1 to science cafes, public debates and lectures, museums, open days, TV programmes2 and films. However each comes with its own specific limitations; many preach to the converted. Many people visiting these events are already interested in science3. Scientists are limited by a lack of training, opportunity and time (we can’t all be the next Brian Cox). These events often offer only a limited time to explain key concepts and deliver powerful arguments. Continue reading

Search Engine Optimisation for science communication

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

This is an exciting time to be a scientist interested in science communication. More and more academics are taking the bull by the horns and are starting up blogs and websites. Many NERC-funded research projects now have their own website. But what’s the point in having a blog if no one reads it? Continue reading

Fellowships, models and outreach

So long and thanks for all the fish

Each year, SCAR (the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research) awards a few fellowships to young researchers, to allow them to visit another university and collaborate with a new team. I was lucky enough to be awarded one in 2012, which I took up this winter. And now, after six months at the Antarctic Research Centre (ARC), Victoria University of Wellington, my SCAR Fellowship is over and it is time to head home, back to Aberystwyth. Continue reading