SESYNC Summer Student Presents Research Findings

Daniel Smith, a SESYNC summer student interning with ESSIC/AOSC Professor, Raghu Murtugudde, will conclude his summer-long research project in early August with a presentation entitled, “Climate Change Communication: Understanding how Environmental/Climate Researchers Think About and Communicate Climate Change.” Smith will discuss the results of a survey he conducted on how researchers communicate information to the general public.

Smith, a rising University of Maryland Sophomore and an AOSC/Mathematics double major, began his research project in early July. The survey was designed to gage how researchers both describe climate change to the general public and why they do so.

It included questions regarding what comes to researchers’ minds when they hear about climate change, how they typically communicate this information to the general public, and why the scientists choose to communicate it in this way. Smith utilized survey results from 36 different researchers to generate his conclusions.

“One of the findings I found was that most researchers in ESSIC and SESYNC combined…will communicate consequences to the general public,” Smith said. “The main reasoning for this, [is] because they felt the public easily understands consequences, for example, they easily understand when the sea level is rising.”

Smith’s findings also stressed the importance of mitigation and adaptation when communicating research to the general public. He found that researchers do this because it incites the most action and behavioral changes from the public. By focusing on mitigation and adaptation, researchers are able to explain how climate change affects the society and their futures.

The overarching theme of Smith’s research was inspired by Murtugudde’s paper entitled, “Climate Change Needs an Elephant Whisperer“, which he plans to expand on in his presentation.