A Few of My Favorite Things: Year-end Round-up of Online Ocean & Climate Science Sources

In the spirit of the season and the end of the secular year, I am working on a round-up and review of some of my favorite online sources of ocean and climate news. Most are direct sources: science journals, university websites, and government agencies, with a few others thrown in for good measure (whatever that means).

The great thing about the first two is that both allow you to get the details of the latest published research without being subscribed to the journals themselves. That’s no mean feat: a one-year subscription to Science or Nature will cost you at least $100 and the more specialized journals are even pricier! (Most researchers access these journals through their libraries, so they don’t pay for them either). The third is a freebie form one of those journals (Nature) – definitely worth checking out. I’ve also included some collaborative online science info efforts, as well as the websites of the top three government agencies working on climate change: NASA, NOAA, and EPA (roughly in that order). Check them out and enjoy! Have others to suggest? Please leave your suggestions in the comments section below.  Happy Holidays!

Unlike Letterman, I’ll start with #1 first.

  1. Science Daily.  Without a doubt, my all-time favorite source of the latest science news. This site includes press releases and short articles on a dozen or so different areas of science. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may recognize them as the source of my science news tweets. My favorite subject area is “Earth & Climate.” Other cool topics include “Plants & Animals”, “Fossils & Ruins”, and “Space & Time.” I get their Science Daily Environment Headlines delivered to my email inbox daily, so I can stay current on the latest and greatest science discoveries.
  2. Futurity.org. In response to the decline in science science and research coverage by traditional news outlets, consortium of dozens research institutions have banded together to deliver the latest research news and high-quality science content directly to the public. Their website says it all: “Futurity does the work of gathering [the] news. Think of it as a snapshot of where the world is today and where it’s headed tomorrow. Discover the future.”
  3. Nature Reports Climate Change. In this free-access web resource from Nature Publishing Group, Nature Reports Climate Change reports “on climate change and its wider implications for policy, society and the economy.” It includes short articles about the latest climate change research, interviews with researchers about climate science, and short opinion pieces about the natural, social, and political implications of research findings. Each issue is approximately 24 pages and is available for Google, as a newsletter or for download as a .pdf. Excellent. Nature also has a regular climate podcast. I’m not a big podcast user, but if you are, I would check this one out.
  4. RealClimate. This is a great – if somewhat confusing – site for climate science. It also features some of the best open discussion and debate among climate scientists, allowing the public a glimpse of the way science is really done. There is a lot here but if you spend some time wading through it, you will understand a lot more of what is going on and what is really at stake in the world of climate and global change research. This site also lists dozens of other sites and blogs dedicated to science – far too many for me to discuss here, so if you’re itching for even more sources, check them out.
  5. NASA’s Climate1Stop. I have only just signed on to NASA’s new website, which is still in beta stage (be forewarned) but I am willing to go out on a limb and predict that this will become a very useful site, once the kinks are worked out. Although most people know of NASA’s space mission, this agency is also a leading source of research on climate change. In general, NASA does a good job of explaining and disseminating climate science on their main sites and Twitter, so I am confident that this site will live up to that reputation. Check it out.
  6. NOAA Paleoclimatology. Paleoclimatology is the study of past climate through the use of various proxies: tree rings, pollen, ice cores and deep-sea sediments. It forms the basis of much of what we know about how the Earth’s climate system works and helps us to predict what future change might look like. It is also a passion of mine – my area of research in grad school. Check out the links under “Paleo Perspectives” for a series of short, easily understandable explanations of some of the major findings of NOAA paleoclimate research.
  7. EPA Climate Change. This site has some basic explanations of climate science and policy. The most valuable features are the accompanying links that bring you directly to the EPA programs and text of the legislation aimed at addressing climate change. A good combination of science and policy from the folks responsible for a bit of both.
  8. Climate Science Watch. Given all the abuse and suppression of government science that went on under the Bush administration, and since having worked for a government agency, I know how easily good science can be lost in the bureaucratic shuffle, I can’t list the previous three without adding Climate Science Watch. According to their website, they are “a nonprofit public interest education and advocacy project dedicated to holding public officials accountable for the integrity and effectiveness with which they use climate science and related research in government policymaking, toward the goal of enabling society to respond effectively to the challenges posed by global warming and climate change.” Climate Science Watch is a program of the Government Accountability Project, whose website is www.whistleblower.org. That says it all, eh?
  9. The Encyclopedia of Earth. In their own words, the Encyclopedia of Earth [EOE, is] a new electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. The Encyclopedia is a free, fully searchable collection of articles written by scholars, professionals, educators, and experts who collaborate and review each other’s work.” EOE is a great place to find an understandable explanation of how climate models work or a definitions for those technical terms that keep showing up in articles, like “radiative forcing” or “albedo.” What I love about the EOE is that, like Wikipedia, it is a collaborative project done by people who care about their subject and really want to share knowledge with a broad audience. On the downside, like Wikipedia, some articles suffer from a lack of oversight – they are not necessarily inaccurate, but are not as clear or on-point as they could be. That said, it is still a wonderful resource.
  10. Wikipedia. I love Wikipedia. Obviously, it’s a lot more than just climate info, but there is a lot of that too. It’s not always accurate and not everything I look for is in there, but I am constantly amazed and humbled by the sheer number of topics and the people who have put their time into making a whole lot of good info (as well as useless trivia) accessible for free in multiple languages. As I mentioned above, that comes with some drawbacks, but overall it’s great.  And hey, if you find some inaccuracies, something you KNOW isn’t right, why not sign on as an editor and share your knowledge with the world? I do!

There are MANY other sources of climate and ocean science info – particularity university websites (check out Climate Matters at Columbia, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and Yale 360). What are YOUR favorites – on this or other science subjects? Please let us know in the comments section!

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