Communication of science


Scientists communicate to non-peer audiences through numerous pathways including websites, blogs, public lectures, media interviews, and educational collaborations. A considerable amount of time and money is invested in this public engagement and these efforts are to a large extent responsible for the public perception of science. However, few incentives exist for researchers to optimize their communication practices to ensure effective outreach. This session encourages critical reflection on science communication practices and provides an opportunity for science communicators to share best practice and experiences with evaluation and research in this field.

We invite everybody who has been involved in any of these activities to share her/his experience in this session:
• Do you consider yourself a science communicator?
• Does your research group or institution participate in public engagement activities?
• Have you ever evaluated or published your education and outreach efforts?
– then submit an abstract on your experiences to this session.
This session would also include examples of how science can and should support decision-making. Presenters would come from public, private and research sector.

Convener: Gerald Fleming | Co-conveners: Nina Kukkurainen, Jesper Theilgaard
Lightning talks
| Mon, 06 Sep, 11:45–12:30 (CEST)

Lightning talks: Mon, 6 Sep

Chairpersons: Gerald Fleming, Nina Kukkurainen
Rosmarie de Wit, Annemarie Lexer, Matthias Themessl, and Andrea Prutsch

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ and ‘seeing is believing’. Clearly, images are considered to be incredibly powerful communication tools. The project ‚Images of Change’, which is funded by the Austrian Climate Research Program, wants to harness the power of visuals in climate change communication. To do so, the project focusses at developing different visual communication formats aimed at young adults, with the goal to support a better understanding of facts and invite climate friendly behavior as well as policy acceptance. In order to hit the ground running, existing (visual) climate change communication formats of different national meteorological and environmental organizations, academia, the media as well as non- governmental organizations (NGOs) were collected, analyzed and compared to best practices as reported in climate communication research. Here, we will present an overview of the key findings from psychological as well as communication research on how to successfully communicate the causes, impacts and solutions of climate change to non-scientists. Specifics on how to engage young adults as well as how to implement visuals in climate change communication in order to achieve the highest impact and increase the motivation to act in a climate friendly manner will also be highlighted. Finally, a selection of existing visual communication campaigns will be presented and discussed. Based on these formats, we will take a deeper look into how the best practice guidelines postulated by the communication science community may be implemented in our own work as climate communicators in academia as well as national weather services.

How to cite: de Wit, R., Lexer, A., Themessl, M., and Prutsch, A.: Visual climate change communication: key points for public engagement, EMS Annual Meeting 2021, online, 6–10 Sep 2021, EMS2021-103,, 2021.

Claire Ransom, Valentine Haran, and Omar Baddour

There is emerging scientific literature on climate change, risk and policy action. However, the interdisciplinary nature of the research has resulted in difficulties for policy makers to quickly and easily find spatial-temporal and geographic information on climate change as it relates to ecosystems, populations and development. We present a mapping tool that links the seven World Meteorological Organization (WMO) state of the climate indicators to climate and climate change impacts and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The seven WMO were chosen for their clarity, relevance for a range of audiences, and ability to be updated using internationally agreed and published methods with open access and high-quality data. Each indicator indicators (greenhouse gas concentration, global mean surface temperature, ocean heat content, sea level rise, sea ice extent, glacial mass extent and ocean acidification) represents key aspects of the climate system linked to various associated risks identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the academic community. Systemically mapping the relationships between the WMO climate indicators and related risks to show how climate can affect the achievement of specific SDGs, with clear visual representations, provides stakeholders with a new tool to better grasp the interconnected and complex nature of how climate change threatens sustainable development. The presentation will introduce the tool in both a digital and print format and explore how the product can help decision makers and civil society engage with complex climate science. We will then put forward recommendations and plans for evaluating the effectiveness of the tool for future applications and improvements.

How to cite: Ransom, C., Haran, V., and Baddour, O.: Visually Mapping Global Climate Indicators, Risks and the Sustainable Development Goals, EMS Annual Meeting 2021, online, 6–10 Sep 2021, EMS2021-254,, 2021.

Tanja Blome, Christian Dold, Juliane El Zohbi, Knut Goerl, Fiona Koehnke, Swantje Preuschmann, Bettina Steuri, Jianing Sun, Diana Rechid, Martin Schultz, and Daniela Jacob

Human-induced climate change is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. The Helmholtz Association is making essential contributions to curbing the causes of climate change and finding ways to adapt. With the Helmholtz Climate Initiative, research is concentrated on the two focal points, "reduction of net emissions" and "adaptation to climate impacts". In Net-Zero-2050, Cluster I of the Helmholtz Climate Initiative, strategies and ways to reduce carbon emissions are scientifically investigated and evaluated. Furthermore, two digital communication formats are being developed to comprehensively show the research's complex results. Firstly, the web-based National Net-Zero-2050 Atlas informs the user about different methods and technologies for CO2 reduction and possible reduction paths. Secondly, the Soil Carbon App enables actors of the agricultural sector to assess climate mitigation potentials that arise from using different land management methods. A land surface model is used to simulate future scenarios presented in the app via cloud-based, model-driven workflows.

Both formats aim to support users in making decisions and developing strategies. The work on the products follows the principles of comprehensibility, transparency and appropriate information presentation. During the work on the products, we identified challenges such as:

  • How to deal with multi-dimensional data sets and uncertainties?
  • How to present scientific results in a user-friendly manner for varied target groups?
  • How to guide the users of varied target groups through the communication formats?

With the aid of a critical internal reflection, approaches to overcome these challenges were developed and applied. For example, the atlas introduces different complexity levels to enable users to gain understanding, despite very diverse backgrounds, prior knowledge and information needs. The app, for its part, offers two main sectors that address the users’ different demands and prior knowledge: (1) it features options to choose from the data and subsequently delivers graphical analyses, and (2) it provides respective interpretation, texts, and web links.

The article presents the two dissemination products as well as the challenges and solutions from the development work.

How to cite: Blome, T., Dold, C., El Zohbi, J., Goerl, K., Koehnke, F., Preuschmann, S., Steuri, B., Sun, J., Rechid, D., Schultz, M., and Jacob, D.: New digital formats for communicating CO2 savings potential for Germany, EMS Annual Meeting 2021, online, 6–10 Sep 2021, EMS2021-185,, 2021.

Dimitrios Stamoulis and Panos Giannopoulos

Communicating the scientific data of the weather forecasts to the general public has always been a challenge. Using computer graphics’ visual representations to convey the message to television viewers and through weather apps and websites has certainly helped a lot to popularize the weather forecast consumption by the general public. However, these representations are not information rich since they are abstraction; moreover they are not always very actionable on the receiver side to help one decide how s/he will “live” the forecast weather conditions. Therefore, there is a need to personalize the forecast based on past user experience and personal needs. The forecast has to become more human- and needs-oriented and more focused to the particular requirements of each individual person. The challenge is to move from providing the abstraction of atmospheric information to a real sense of how the weather will "feel" to the individual.

We therefore propose a new co-creation process in which the audience is called on to provide a daily feedback on how they lived the weather conditions personally, so that, “my personal forecast” can be produced making the forecast more actionable on the user side. Preliminary, but more personalized, such attempts include the “feels like” temperature forecasts. To arrive at the “my personal forecast”, AI-based recommender systems need to be applied, using fuzzy logic as the appropriate method for the user to express how s/he actually lived personally lived weather conditions every day. Over time this information can then be used to transform science-based descriptions of weather conditions into a sense of how the weather will be experienced at a personal level.

How to cite: Stamoulis, D. and Giannopoulos, P.: Pesonalising weather forecasts using AI techniques, EMS Annual Meeting 2021, online, 6–10 Sep 2021, EMS2021-502,, 2021.


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