From Computer Models to Calendar Models, These Climate Scientists Are Workin' It

©. Charlie Naebeck

A group of climate change researchers are trying to make their field more approachable. In a delicious play on words, these makers of climate change models have turned into pin-up models for a 2014 "Climate Models" calendar. Each scientist appears dressed up in a setting that represents their field of study.

The project is the brainchild of Francesco Fondella, a communications officer at the International Research for Climate and Society, and Rebecca Fowler, a science writer working at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. They enlisted 13 scientists to pose for the calendar.

Fowler said they wanted to present the diversity of scientific community, not only representing a balance of men and women, early and later careers, but also different fields of research. From researchers studying tree rings to tracking satellite data, the calendar surveys the wide range of approaches that are being used to understand and predict climate change.

Kátia Fernandes (shown above), studies hydrometeorology and is working to understand the land-ocean connection to help predict fires in the Amazon. Tufa Dinku (pictured below) is an expert in climate and environmental monitoring who works to improve the access and use of weather information in Africa.

Tufa Dinku

© Charlie Naebeck
"It also just came down to who had availability," said Fowler. All the photos were taken on one day in August by Charlie Naebeck, with a full entourage for hair and makeup. "I don't think they really knew what they were getting themselves into."

The calendar was funded by a grand from the New York City chapter of the Awesome Foundation, plus another $11,449 from Kickstarter. Their campaign page states the project's goal eloquently:

"Scientists use climate models—computer programs that simulate the interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice—to learn what will happen to climate in the future. The Climate Models calendar uses scientists as models to teach climate science."

The scientists work for Columbia University's International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Why Did You Want to be a Climate Model? from IRI on Vimeo.

A first round of calendars has been sent out to Kickstarter supporters, and Fowler said they hope to have more for sale on their website by Saturday, December 7.

"It's a new mechanism for communicating climate science," said Fowler. "We're hoping the project will inspire other scientists, not just climate scientists, to think about new ways to talk about their work."