2014’s trendiest calendar reveals the fashion-forward faces behind some of the hottest headlines in climate science. The Climate Models Calendar features powerful portraits of thirteen leading climate scientists across Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
What began as a punny jest between science communicators Rebecca Fowler + Francesco Fiondella—using climate modelers as calendar models to teach climate science—has materialized into a creative experiment in science communication. According to Fowler: “A lot of people don’t know what climate science is—what climate scientists study and how they study it. You’ll just see climate change as a news headline, and we wanted to try to show the people behind the research and what it is they’re doing.” Enlisting the talent of photographers Charlie Naebeck and Jordan Matter, Climate Models poignantly + playfully humanizes the scientists behind the cold + disembodied facts + figures associated with science at large. Fiondella adds:
These are very passionate people who have dedicated their work to answer some fundamental questions about what is happening to the planet. But often what the public ends up seeing are just the end results of their work. We want to show that there are very fun-loving, smart, dedicated professionals behind this work.
Accompanying each photo is a monthly glimpse into what these scientists are studying + why, as they share information about their favorite dataset, chart, or climate phenomenon. In addition, Climate Models provides an online platform—featuring exclusive interviews and extended bios—to continue to explore + engage with the science in greater depth 365 days of the year.Stylish calendar aside, what excites me most about this project—especially as a biologist seeking to communicate my own fascination with science—is the elegance of the idea. By simply providing a forum for researchers to share their passion + progress, Fowler + Fiondella have cleverly integrated the products of research—the results and what they may mean for the Earth—with a fun face + personal story. Fowler notes:
Scientists often get a bad rap for being poor communicators, but so many aren’t trained in communication as part of their education. We wanted to imagine more creative ways to teach science communication and to inspire scientists to think of novel ways to talk about their research. Francesco and I were both blown away by the response of the scientists who participated in this project.
On the response of the participating climate scientists, Fiondella elaborates:
The scientists themselves actually had such a blast taking part, and many keep telling us what a great experience it’s been. I hadn’t anticipated that strong of a reaction, and hopefully they’ll consider participating in more of these kinds of experiences—different ways of showing people what they do. That was very surprising and very lovely for me to have witnessed as someone who is interested in science communication.
Next week, you can even catch some of the climate models live + in person, sharing their work and their stories with the public. On November 12th @ 7pm, New Yorkers head to the Rauschenberg Project Space in Chelsea to meet models Michela Biasutti, Katia Fernandes, Dorothy Peteet, Richard Seager and Jason Smerdon, as they discuss climate research and making climate science accesible to the public. Sponsored by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the event is one in a series of free Marfa Dialogues / NY events taking place in New York this fall.
Interested in supporting this exciting project + promoting climate science education and outreach? Be sure to become a supporter of Climate Models Kickstarter campaign + be sure to secure your own copy of the season’s hottest calendar!