Climate experts available to answer journalists’ science questions

24 June 2010

Joint Release

WASHINGTON—A growing number of climate scientists are signing up with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) to serve as sources for the news media of accurate scientific information about climate. So far, more than 115 climate specialists have volunteered for AGU’s new referral database. The database will enable AGU staff to readily match questions from reporters to experts in relevant disciplines. All of the scientists who have signed up to date are members of AGU, the world’s largest organization of Earth and space scientists, which has 58,000 members.

AGU is establishing this new service in order to better address journalists’ needs for accurate, timely information about climate science. This initiative follows another effort that was conceived of and organized by AGU members last December around the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. That project brought together journalists and climate scientists, via email, so that reporters covering the conference could get climate science questions answered around the clock.

The new referral service will receive journalists’ questions and other queries via emails or phone calls to AGU’s press office staff, who will then pass queries along quickly to appropriate scientist-volunteers. This new service will match scientists to reporters’ queries primarily during business hours (East Coast USA) and will be ongoing.

Journalists should contact AGU press officers Peter Weiss ([email protected]), Maria-José Viñas ([email protected]), or Kathleen O’Neil ([email protected]) with climate questions and requests to speak with climate scientists. Questions should focus on science, not on policy, and should include a deadline so that responses can be returned with appropriate speed. Answers to questions will reflect the responding scientists’ knowledge and research and do not represent official positions of the AGU.

Climate scientists from 14 countries have signed up for the service to date. The volunteers can all communicate in English, and many of them are also fluent in other languages. So far, the expert pool includes speakers of German, Chinese, Spanish, and 15 other languages.

To evaluate how well this new service fulfills its objectives, AGU will collect data on requests and responses, and will solicit feedback periodically from scientists and journalists who participate in using the service.