The week of responsible research

Responsible research, sustainable science, aware academia. No matter which alliteration you choose, considering the environmental impact of your research sounds a bit meaningless, like dynamic synergy.

But is it?  If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense for climate researchers to think about the climate footprint of their research.  The two main pros for this are that:
a)  we obviously need to reduce global carbon emissions right now and everyone has to do their part, but also that
b) climate scientists will be more well respected if we lead by example. Wouldn’t you have less faith in your doctor if she was a smoker, or put less trust in your architect if he lived in a ugly house?

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The week of the cry

Is it worth it?

A few days ago I came home for lunch and had one of the biggest melt downs I’ve had in ages. Not one of those little tearies that might happen after you stub your toe, but a full on, family pet died kind of crying session. Why? Because I could not solve a problem at work. All morning I had tried and tried to fix this small issue, and it simply would not budge. I was frustrated at myself and the world, and the only non-violent way to deal with it was to cry. Don’t tell Tim Hunt.Read More »

The week in the cloud

When I was at school, I would always take home what I now realise was ‘optimistic homework’. Two text books, two binders, my pencil case, the novel we were reading in English, three notebooks, my diary, and my calculator. You know, just in case. It was lucky for me that large, surfing brand backpacks were cool when I was at high school, because mine was chock-a-block on the bus almost every day, full of tasks that I ‘might’, but generally didn’t, complete.

During my PhD, I did all of my work on a laptop. It was connected to a large monitor most days (I’m not a complete posture masochist) but again it meant that almost every night I would ride home with my Mac Book Pro on my back, full of intentions to work. Inevitably, I would then drag it back again the next day having not opened it at all.

My current work situation puts me in the blessed position of being able to walk to and from my office. I can come home for lunch, nip back if I’ve forgotten something, and walk a lovely 3km everyday. But finally, I am getting a bit smarter. I take a small bag, my diary, a bottle of water, and that’s it. Why? Because now I live in the cloud.Read More »

The week I reviewed

We are the watcher on the walls. We are the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men…for this night and all the nights to come.

OK, so I’m not Jon Snow (in that I’m not a bastard or disastrously handsome), and we are not waging war against white walkers. But in some respects, peer review is the last line of defence against bad science escaping into the world.Read More »

The week the paper was published

“Dear Dr Ashcroft,

I am pleased to inform you that your paper has been accepted for publication.”

Huzzah! Is there any sweeter sentence in the scientific world?! Maybe “the results are significant at the 99.9% confidence level (p<0.01)”.  But the opening line from this email I recently received is definitely up there.

The accepted paper is the last publication to come directly out of my PhD thesis, an adaptation of the final chapter that brought together several datasets I developed and tried to answer a big question using my historical instrumental data: how has the El Niño–Southern Oscillation influence on southeastern Australian rainfall varied since European settlement?

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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 »