Visualising climate change

Recently I was invited to talk to the computer science students at John Monash Science School by their wonderful teacher and all round superstar, Dr Linda McIver. The students had been working on different ways to show climate change data, Linda told me. Could we talk about that?

A chance to look at visualisations of climate data? How exciting! In five minutes I had a page full of examples to think of to share with the students. The presentation pretty much made itself.Read More »

What to do at EGU

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna, affectionately and efficiently known as EGU.

Over 13,000 scientists from across the world get together for a week to discuss the centre of the earth, far flung space and everything, literally everything, located in between. Seeing so many researchers together, in so much comfortable footwear and with such a wide array of backpacks, is a special experience indeed.

This was my second EGU, but my first as a grown-up scientist rather than a student. The first time was completely overwhelming, and I left thinking that mass meetings were not my scientific bag.

But this year was very different. I got some useful feedback on my work, met heaps of new people in my field, connected with some people I’d been longing to collaborate with, and re-connected with great old colleagues and friends.

I am a bit more experienced now it’s true, and know a few more names and faces. This year I was also fortunate to give a talk , and give it at the start of the week, meaning that a) my presentation was out of the way early and b) the few people who did see my talk had more time to catch me and ask questions.

But I was also more prepared this year, and I think I’ve figured out a few of the dos and don’ts  (dont’s?) of EGU. They are, in the order that I thought of them…Read More »

Teleco-what now?

This post contains a lot of links to scientific articles that may be paywalled, or just as bad, really technical. Just let me know if you need a copy of any of them, or if they don’t make sense.

Ah, teleconnection. What a word. Much like ‘madrugada‘ does not have a translation into English, or ’serendipity‘ does not have a Spanish equivalent, teleconnection is a term that is hard to translate into normal words without it losing some of its beauty.

But let me have a try. Essentially, teleconnections are the connections between weather and climate in one place, and weather and climate in another. No, that’s not it. A teleconnection is the remote influence of large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns. No that’s worse. It’s the effect that the climate in one place can have somewhere else. It’s teleconnection.Read More »

The week of translation

This past week C3 had the honour of being published in the local newspaper. A half-page spread on who we are and what we do. It’s the start of a regular column for researchers at the university and for our group it was a great, if complicated opportunity for some science communication.

Why complicated? Well, the people who were most excited about the opportunity included myself and a PhD student from Hungary. We both speak and write in English but only un poco Castillano and no Catalan, the language of the publication.

It was a shame then that the instructions for submitting the article were also in Catalan. In our excitement to get started, we naturally assumed that 2.500 caràcters meant that the newspaper wanted 2,500 of our finest WORDS about regional climate change research.

The group met, and brainstormed, and my Hungarian colleague (who is a scicomm superstar in her own country BTW) got to work. It was only 5 days before the deadline (when 2000 words were ready to go) that we realised only 2,500 CHARACTERS were required! Obviously.

So the detailed, friendly essay about our centre was reduced to a neat 600 English words without too much ‘discusión‘. Great work team.

Next, the translation. This was one of the most interesting communication experiences I have been involved in. An English article written by one person whose native language is Hungarian, translated by another whose mother tongue is actually a dialect of Catalan from her home town, with special comments from an extra helper (this guy) about how to translate some English words into other English words that would make more sense in Tortosa’s own unique form of Catalan.

For example, ‘outreach’. How do you describe this simply in English? I tried for ‘public communication of science’ and we settled on the Catalan word for communication (comunicació). That was until our translating extraordinare hit upon ‘divulgació‘, which means communicating out among the community, in programs at schools and with the public. Which is outreach! I felt like I had stepped out of a science department and into a linguistics boardgame.

‘Instrumental research’ was another doozy. Now normally this would mean ‘super important research’, but in our case, we actually mean research about meteorological instruments. Google Translate did not take kindly to that.

In the end I think we are all fairly happy with the results, and no one has called us with any skeptic rants yet, so that’s good. Let’s see what happens next month.

Here is the article in all its scanned glory:

The opinion page of Setmanari Ebre, a weekly local newspaper, featuring us!

It roughly translates to…

The third floor of the campus

International climate research at Terres de l’Ebre

The Centre for Climate Change (C3) ( is a young research institute at the Campus Terres de l’Ebre of URV. Although it is a rather small scientific community (currently with 15 members), a group of enthusiastic and committed senior and junior climate researchers work together here.

The institute is based in the Terres de L’Ebre region not only because of the stunning natural environment and landscapes, but also in order to facilitate the synergy between C3, and the nearby Observatori de l’Ebre and IRTA (El Instituto de Investigación y Tecnología Agroalimentarias).

C3 is focused on researching, outreaching and sharing knowledge in the fields of climate reconstruction and assessment of climate variability and climate change.

The centre is well-known internationally due to its high-quality research on recovering climate information in different countries. The data rescue and database building tasks are implemented by working in international collaborations within projects supported by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Besides the main research line of the centre we add year by year new and interesting fields of climate science to our research profile, such as analysing extreme events (e.g. heat and cold waves or drought), paleoclimatology (i.e. reading climate information from non-direct sources from the past such as tree rings or ice cores) and instrumental research (e.g. calibrating and improving the meteorological measuring devices). We will introduce these activities in more detailed in our upcoming articles.

A couple of months ago a sky blue banner stretched over the main street of Tortosa advertising an event called International Symposium Climate-ES 2015. Well, what was that exactly for and why is it important to organise such events?

First of all it was a unique opportunity for climate scientists, experts from the industry and also from the media to gather, share their results, their experience, their expectations and even their doubts as well as to initiate collaborative solutions to tackle the regional challenges of climate change.

Secondly, the purpose of this international ‘meetup’ was also to discover the latest scientific achievements regarding the Iberian Peninsula since the last comprehensive report on global climate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was published last year.

There were almost 100 attendees giving a talk, presenting a poster or participating in the round-table conversations during the three day symposium. The sessions covered all the hot topics of recent climate change discussions.

C3 is active in the Terres de l’Ebre. If you want to know more about our activities, our Climate studies and the Climate Change, we invite you to read our next article.