Here’s ARAMACC opposite the hotel where the 4th International Sclerochronology Conference (ISC2016) was held earlier this month. We can all be proud of the significant contribution that ARAMACC made; about 25% of all talks and posters were by ARAMACC ESRs or their supervisors or people formally associated with ARAMACC. The contingent from outside the US was overwhelmingly dominated by ARAMACC people.
Some of us were giving our first talks at a major international conference, and having done a practice session beforehand, they all went pretty well. Question time was by no means easy, but we dealt with them well, and if there was a prize for feistiness it would go to Maria with a spirited defence of modelling that I certainly won’t forget in a hurry. In the realm of real prizes, congratulations to Tamara who got an award for her poster. You’ll find lots of pictures from the conference on the Sclerochronology Facebook page.
Thanks especially to Al Wanamaker who organised the conference in spite of living and working 2000 kilometres away in Iowa. I know it was a tough assignment, and while the venue was excellent and we were all comfortable there, it was undoubtedly very expensive.
Looking to the future, the next sclero conference in 2019 will be organised by one of our own – Melita Peharda from Split has taken up the baton. All of us who have been there know it’s a beautiful venue and I hope over the next three years we can all play a part in making ISC2019 a great success!
The Science Communication workshop was an exploration of the pitfalls and joys of trying to communicate science to the general public via a media who seem determined to misrepresent what we are doing at every opportunity. Apparently if there is any scope at all to mention the Bermuda Triangle, the emperor Ming or spiteful murdering of aged clams, that is what they will do, leaving the original research far, far behind. Michael Carroll and James Scourse entertained us with their own personal experiences, the take-home message being that in the fullness of time all publicity is good publicity but it’s still best to try to keep control of the process and have a site with the real story set up in case of disaster.
Ana Bedalov, who organises the Researchers’ Nights in Split, gave a very entertaining talk about involving children and young people in science, capping it off by slinging a paper tablemat across the room and brealing a glass with it. Kudos!
Interactive exercises were very entertaining and I hope informative as well. Some of us definitely have hidden talents as interviewers. And selling science to a range of disparate types from professional footballers to toddlers turned out to be a piece of cake once you had worked out what made them tick (in the case of toddlers, that’s a piece of cake)
We have some very short movie clips from the public engagement exercise here (warning – these are a bit random and my camerawork is shaky):
More professionally, we had a visit from the Croatian news magazine HRT Na zahtjev (our clip starts at 27:20)
(Technical note – the programme seemed to load very slowly on Firefox and much more quickly on Safari)
Numerical modelling of climate and the oceans is a complex field, and making linkages between outputs from multiple disparate models and the data we have been working up during ARAMACC is by no means straightforward. Where the models are similar to our data, what does that mean? How can we use those similarities to test the models or to validate our data? I hope we moved a little bit in the right direction during the modelling part of the workshop. Difficult ideas were very well explained by our team of distinguished experts in the field:
Ivica Vilibic ́on dense water formation and overturning in the Adriatic; Paul Halloran with a very clear and well illustrated overview of numerical modelling followed by an introduction to the intricacies of biogeochemical modelling; Odd Helge Ottera on how to deal with decadal variability in global ocean models can be used to address decadal variability; and the workshop ended with Eduardo Zorita covering global climate models, focusing on the climate of the last millennium.
We did also find time to take a look at our data, and found some very close and interesting connections between shell growth and some of the models.
In a little more than a month, we’ll be joining Melita and Ariadna in Croatia for the second ARAMACC Summer School, held at the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split. As you’ll see from the pictures below, the Institute has found a prime situation for itself right at the end of the promontory with stunning views across the bay to the offshore islands. Right, that’s the end of the travelogue – now skip past the pictures for what we’ll be doing.
As before, there will be two parts to this summer school, a sclero-specific part and a workshop on general skills associated with research.
The sclero-specific part this time focuses on “Sclerochronology and Numerical Modelling”; we’ll be discussing how to use sclerochronological time series as a tool for constraining and validating numerical climate models. Trainers will be two experienced climate modellers from within ARAMACC, Eduardo Zorita from the Institute of Coastal Research and Odd Helge Otterå from the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research in Bergen. We will also welcome as guest trainers Paul Halloran from University of Exeter (Paul is the supervisor of Sarah Holmes who you met at NIOZ) and Ivica Vilibić, a physical oceanography expert who is based at IOF.
Our general workshop is about “Dissemination, Communication and Public Outreach”. This aspect is increasingly important with the plethora of communication tools now available, and communication of science has moved a long way from the old model, with publication of results in blogs and open access journals making publication a much more fluid and interactive process than it used to be.
We’ll discuss the wide range of media that are now available for communication of science, presentation of science at outreach events, presentations to general non-specialist audiences and the importance of ensuring public access to data as soon as possible after publication. Trainers from within ARAMACC will include our host Melita Peharda, James Scourse with his famous presentation on the various Ming controversies, Michael Carroll from Akvaplan-niva, and myself (yes, really!!) on the use of social media and, I hope, Eduardo again talking about the blog he is involved with, Die Klimazwiebal. Our guest trainer will be Ana Bedalov who organizes the annual Researchers’ Nights in Split (see 20 seconds into the clip). In addition, Carin will be joining us from Bergen to help with all parts of the workshop.
Outline of programme
Below is the outline schedule for the various parts of the Summer School and the main people involved in each part. Dissemination in green, modelling in orange, presentations in blue. Carin, Melita and myself will also be around for the week to assist as required
Monday 9/5 morning
Writing a press release, led by James
Monday 9/5 afternoon
Talk by Paul Halloran on epistemological questions about modelling
Presentations of their own records by Amy, Fabian, Tamara, Stella and Juan
Ivica Vilibić on regional ocean models
Model-proxy comparisons using students’ data
Wednesday 11/5 morning
Odd Helge on global ocean models and decadal variability
Eduardo on global climate models and climate iof the past millennium
Wednesday 11/5 afternoon
Interactive exercises using the press release
Talk by Ana Bedalov
Thursday 12/5 morning
Science communication horror stories (James on Ming and Michael on the Bermuda Triangle)
More interactive exercises
Thursday 12/5 afternoon
More interactive exercises
Social media (led by Paul B, Michael and Eduardo)
Friday 13/5 all day
Student Presentations (led by Melita)
Each student will give two short presentations:
(i) focusing on the administration side, presenting your strategy for completing your PhD
(ii) focusing on the science, presenting a first version of your talk for Portland for discussion and a short overview of any other findings.
Looking forward to another exciting week!
Time to start making plans …
Here’s a first look at the website for the sclero conference ISC2016 next June!