Scientists reviewing media: a way forward for climate science communication?

By Jess

Could there be anything more frustrating to a climate scientist than an educated, seemingly reasonable person declare they don’t believe in climate change?

To me it feels a bit like this:cartoon

The science is now overwhelmingly clear on climate change; it is happening and humans are responsible. Yet, in 2013 60% of Australians thought that ‘there are too many conflicting opinions for the public to be sure about climate change’ (The Climate Institute, 2013).

It seems like we are back to the good old science communication problem.

Continue reading “Scientists reviewing media: a way forward for climate science communication?”

COP21: Understanding Emissions and Targets

The 196 parties of the UNFCCC are coming together next week with the aim of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will likely keep global warming below 2˚C.  Check out my last blog post on COP21 for more information.

Continue reading “COP21: Understanding Emissions and Targets”

COP21: Paris Climate Talks

Next week one of the world’s biggest and most important diplomatic events will take place. But what is the UNFCCC COP21 and why should we care?

Understanding the Acronyms

UNFCCC stands for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, this refers to the selection of leaders from 195 nations and the European Union who have come together with the aim of reducing the impact of human actions upon the Earth’s climate system.

The Conference of Parties (COP) is the leading body of the international convention. COP21 is the 21st annual gathering for the UNFCCC leaders and is to be held in Paris, 30 November – 11 December 2015. Continue reading “COP21: Paris Climate Talks”

Practising Science Communication… On the radio!

I wish I had taken a picture of the studio!!
I wish I had taken a picture of the studio!!

By Claire

One of the most important jobs as a scientist is being able to communicate what you do to the people around you. Even if it’s just your mum, one day, someone without a background in your particular field of science will ask you what you do. The trick is to be able to communicate what is typically a quite complex scientific idea in simple terms.

One of my favourite things about contributing to this blog is that I get to “practice” communicating scientific ideas very simply. I am actually getting quite good (if I do say so myself), at telling people about what I am studying in my PhD.

I got an excellent chance to “practice” my science communication last week, when I was asked by the host of a community radio program called “Biodegradio” to come into their studio and record an interview on what I am studying. I was quite nervous heading into the studio, but quickly relaxed and actually had a lot of fun chatting to Alison about my work.  Continue reading “Practising Science Communication… On the radio!”

IPCC Fifth Assessment Report – same message, more certainty

wg1coverBy Claire

Hopefully you’re aware by now, that Working Group 1 of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has just released its fifth assessment report. This report pulls together and synthesises the current knowledge on the cause, attribution, effects and projections for climate change. The IPCC does not conduct research itself, but rather, simply pulls together the thousands of published, peer reviewed papers that add to our collective knowledge of climate change.

Unfortunately, the report itself is over 2000 pages, making it largely unreadable for all but the most dedicated. The report, however, is well indexed, meaning you can jump straight to content that interests you the most.

If, like me, you find 2000 pages too daunting, but you still want to find out the conclusions of the latest report, you can check out the Summary for Policymakers – which breaks down the report into a much more digestible 36 pages (note that the report is still unformatted, so all the figures are at the end and it’s not pretty yet).  Continue reading “IPCC Fifth Assessment Report – same message, more certainty”

Tell me your idea. You have 3 minutes.

By Adi

What if you had just three minutes to leave your mark on the world? Could you share your contribution to humanity in less time than it takes to make a cup of coffee?

In this age of texts, tweets and likes, it is time for young scientists around the world to join, the Three Minute Club. Recently, a multitude of top-rated journals have begun offering researchers the opportunity to summarise their work in a few minutes as video abstracts. See for example, Paper Flicks at the journal Cell or the AudioSlides offered by the journal publisher Elsevier. Continue reading “Tell me your idea. You have 3 minutes.”

Social Media and Science

Image Credit –
Image Credit –

By Will (guest blogger)

Last week the ANU played host to a panel of some of the most liked, viewed and shared people in the world. This probably sounds odd so allow me to elaborate. They are all science communicators who operate exclusively through social media.

The night itself was a chance for each guest to share their insights and experiences in science communication using social media. Each of these guests has built up an incredibly strong following for their particular content. This is interesting because of the challenges presented by social media; content can struggle to gain attention and you have to actively attract people to view it. The impact these communicators have is even more impressive considering the resources they have to work with. That and I’ve never got 40,000 likes on one of my Facebook posts…

So who are these social media science communicators, and more importantly how have they achieved so much success. Continue reading “Social Media and Science”

Happy Birthday Schrödinger!

S Cat 2By Claire

Today (in the USA, or yesterday in Australia – the 12th August) is Schrödinger’s birthday!

Now, I realise that Schrödinger worked in the field of quantum mechanics, and therefore not earth sciences, but, Schrödinger’s work is a great example of effective science communication.

Schrödinger is best known for his cat, that is, a theoretical cat that he either kills or doesn’t kill (anyone worried about Schrödinger’s cat shouldn’t be – it was a theoretical experiment. No cats were harmed in the making of this science).  Continue reading “Happy Birthday Schrödinger!”

National Science Week – Social Media Event

national_science_weekBy Evan

As part of National Science Week, there is a public event being held at the ANU all about social media. The title of the event, Memes, blogs and videos: how social media has transformed the way we communicate science is quite a mouthful, but it features some of the biggest names in scientific social media. Among the participants are those involved in Bad Astronomy, I Fucking Love Science, and Science Alert. As a blogger for the past couple of years on this site, I found it to be a very good way to discuss interesting geoscience news that I found. It is also a great way to practice writing about science. As they say, the best way to get good at something is to practice! I don’t know if our little corner of the Internet has changed the paradigms of society, but it has been a lot of fun. Continue reading “National Science Week – Social Media Event”

A Busy Weekend for Meteors

By Evan

Ah meteors, the great pieces of rock that fall from the heavens to wreck havoc on the world (rarely). Just a week after a study came out about to confirm the role of a massive impact wiping out the non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago, we are reminded that we are not immune to meteors, and they are always a threat. The meteor that exploded above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk caused injuries of over 1000 people, probably caused when people went to their windows to see what had happened, only to find them shattering due to the blast. Russia Today has a great compilation of videos of the blast (I was informed most Russian cars have dashboard cameras to record road rage incidents, which ended up being beneficial to capture some great views of the explosion):

Continue reading “A Busy Weekend for Meteors”

Slurping slimey fish!

By Evan

This week’s interesting science news story comes deep from the sea. A 14 year old Ukrainian boy with an interest in marine science was looking at a live streaming video from an undersea camera, and saw a frightful sight – a snout showed up and slurped up the fish he was watching! The video is below:

Continue reading “Slurping slimey fish!”

From the archives: ‘Wind Farms Cause Global Warming’ … Huh? More media mangling of scientific research

By Ali Kimbrough – guest contributor (originally posted 14th May 2012)

Conveniently, or rather inconveniently, the media often misinterprets scientific findings to produce seductive headlines such as: “Wind Farms Cause Global Warming” or “Wind Farms are Warming the Earth, researchers say”. These extravagant claims have been triggered by a recent study by Zhou et al., (2012). This study looks at surface temperature changes in west-central Texas, where four of the world’s largest wind farms are located. This is the first study of its kind and has raised significant questions relating to local and regional impacts of wind farms.

Continue reading “From the archives: ‘Wind Farms Cause Global Warming’ … Huh? More media mangling of scientific research”

From the archives: The Kermadec Arc Explained

Black Smoker vent in the Atlantic (Source:

by Brendan (originally posted 17th May 2012)

Earlier this week, Mike and myself wrote about a period of dramatic growth of the Molowai submarine volcano, part of the Kermadec arc to the north of New Zealand. This morning I came across a good video from 3NewsNZ that describes the Kermadec arc/trench environment and includes many of the features that make science videos cool, including black smokers, false colour bathymetry, strange marine life forms and  even sharks.

You can find the video here –

December 21, 2012 – OMG END OF THE WORLD!!!!!

By Evan

By now many of the readers of this blog have likely seen this video by Prime Minister Julia Gillard that the end of the world is nigh. While Triple J’s prediction of the end of the world on December 7th did not come true, I think the consensus was that it was supposed to happen on the 21st of December anyways. Despite the fact that Mayans themselves assert that the end of their ancient calendar doesn’t mean the end of the world, this has become the date when a lot of people believe Armageddon will happen. So what are some of the possibilities of the end of the world? I look into it.

Historic seismicity in the Banda Sea region - a magnitude 7.1 earthquake there last week could be felt in northern Australia.
Historic seismicity in the Banda Sea region – a magnitude 7.1 earthquake there last week could be felt in northern Australia.


The largest earthquake ever recorded since the advent of seismometers was the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, which struck off the coast of Chile in South America. At magnitude 9.5, it was quite a bit stronger than last year’s Tohoku earthquake, and the 2004 Sumatra earthquake (it is estimated that one earthquake accounted for 25% of the total energy of all earthquakes in the past century). Earthquakes of this magnitude happen in offshore subduction zones, so while they are massive, they aren’t necessarily the most destructive. These are localized disasters that might make it seem like the end of the world for those affected, but certainly it is not global in nature, a requirement for the apocalypse. Continue reading “December 21, 2012 – OMG END OF THE WORLD!!!!!”

Not-so-Serious Sunday 30

by Brendan

It has been a few weeks since I have posted a volcano video, so I thought I’d find one. This one shows lava pouring into the sea on the coast of Hawaii.

For our Australian readers: Channel Nine/win is showing the David Attenborough documentary “Frozen Planet” at 6.30pm on Sunday, should be a nice relaxing way to end the weekend.

The Fingerprint of Stars

by Brendan

Ever wondering how astrophysicists find out all about stars? If so, PhD Comics has produced this awesome video with the help of a team at Caltech. Well worth a look.

Not So Serious Sunday 29

A couple of days ago I found this great video that gives at idea of how the evolution of life occurred, scaled down to 24 hours. Check it out below.

Not-so-serious Sunday 27

In the light of his recent appearance on the ABC Breakfast show explaining the solar eclipse I thought we should revisit one of Charley Lineweaver‘s other great interviews, about the Transit of Venus. Charley is one of the researchers at RSES and looks at various planetary, cosmological and astro-biological topics, including extra-solar planets as well as quickly being the goto guy for ABC News Breakfast on all things space related.

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