EGU Blogs

Earth Science

That’s no cloud..

Science is a deadly serious subject. Well, actually, no it’s not. In the slightest. Scientists are actually pretty fun people, despite their common depictions, and sometimes they have been known to publish smile-inducing articles.

Take one Radagast the Brown of Bristol University (UK). This may or may not be a pseudonym, but either way he’s published a cool paper late last year on the climate of Middle Earth. It’s free to access here, and well worth a look. Not only is it a fun read, but also shows how fantasy and science can cross over some times, and possibly help to reach new audiences by conveying aspects of science in novel ways. I don’t want to give any of the results away, so if you’re into you hobbitses, elvses, and general circulation models, then it’s well worth a read!

Plotting for the Earth. Sciences.

This was originally posted at:

So a cool paper came out a while back about using plots when attempting to construct stories as a mode of communicating in Earth Science. I cannot, as always, emphasise my frustration when someone writes an article that’s supposed to be broadly educational, and sticks it behind a paywall. In this case, it might have reached the target audience of practising institutionalised Earth scientists (hello), but not the many who aren’t fortunate to have a subscription.

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Story-telling rocks.

‘Story-telling’ is often quoted as a way of communicating scientific ideas to non-scientific audiences. It’s seen as a way of providing a form of narrative with which an audience can relate to, and thus provide a more engaging account of a scientific report. Admittedly, not everything can be transformed into a story of sorts, but there are many aspects of science, be it theoretical, model-based, or empirical that can benefit from communication via this format.

With regards to this format of communication, it seems (in my little experience) that there are a suite of phrases that are often used somewhat interchangeably, but which have different meanings and different purposes.

Plot – Storyline, or plan of a scientific report.

Theme – The pervading subject throughout a report.

Story – An account of an event or series of events, or something that can be instructional in a broader sense.

Narrative – The telling of the story, and the manner in which it is told.

Context – The discourse that frames the report, within which it can be fully understood in relative terms.

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