Picture: Screenshot of Christian Jakob talking to the host of Climate Australia, Lee Constable. Credit: Cimpatico.

The past four months have seen a lot of activity with the release of Weathex 2.0, a short video Q&ARC introducing some of our researchers, two combined Centre of Excellence media workshops, and a pilot interview program featuring Christian Jakob that explored the challenges of climate science. More broadly, we have seen a number of media articles featuring Centre of Excellence researchers including a podcast, The User’s Guide to the Future; a well-received Conversation piece by Melissa Hart about supporting PhD students during COVID19; a nice opportunistic media story by Kim Reid on atmospheric Rivers over Australia; and a range of articles around the coming summer and La Niña.

The release of WeatheX 2.0 allowed us to take a different route with our media strategy. When the app was first released, we focused primarily on mainstream media and getting word out. With the second iteration the primary focus was to add more users. This time around we directed our attention to Facebook pages where there were already large numbers of people engaged in storms or weather more generally. ABC’s Weather Obsessed page was extremely supportive and a number of other storm chasing websites added posts about the new version of the app. We also made Joshua Soderholm available for Facebook live broadcasts. We saw this approach bear fruit when a line of storms passed through south-east Queensland. In the space of a few hours we received more than 270 separate reports, the most for any single storm event. Over the coming few months we will continue expanding the reach of the WeatheX app through other social media networks.

By the time you read this report, we should have released the CLEX Q&ARC video that features Andy Hogg, Nina Ridder, Stacey Hitchcock and Rishav Goyal. This video is part of a series developed by Centre of Excellence communications staff that aims to introduce researchers to a broader audience. The videos are intentionally lo-fi and all were shot by the participants on their handheld devices. The series has been well received by the Australian Research Council and the peer networks around each Centre. This is a very simple and affordable approach that we could use in the future for a variety of other videos.

More recently, we have worked with Lee Constable former presenter of Network 10’s children’s science, Scope, on a new video platform, Cimpatico, to pilot an idea of producing a series of videos about the challenges of climate science. Christian Jakob volunteered to be the guinea pig and you can find his half-hour interview about the known unknowns of climate science on this page or on our YouTube channel. You will also note a range of animations dotted through this program that were produced by our researchers. A special thanks to Martin Jucker, Sonny Truong, and Joshua Soderholm for offering up their impressive work. If all goes well, we may be able to produce a CLEX branded series that looks at challenges that our research programs are taking on in an easily accessible way that focuses on each research program.

Finally, we were delighted to bring back the combined Centre of Excellence media workshops — even if these were only held virtually. The normally day-long workshops were spread over two days with each session being around three hours long. These workshops continue to grow in popularity and the most recent two have included researchers from six different Centres of Excellence. The workshops are designed to offer instantly useful techniques that can work in a variety of communications from media, presentations, right through to job interviews. I have always been pleased to see the participants use the techniques we have taught but the most delightful part of these workshops still remains in the engagement between researchers from different disciplines. While we didn’t have a buzzing room this time as the researchers described what they were doing to each other, it was clear that the level of engagement was high and there was a deep interest in the types of research being described in our breakout rooms. The demand for these workshops has been so high this time round that we have scheduled three. The final workshop in the series is planned for late January early February.

I cannot conclude this newsletter report without looking back on what has been an exceptionally demanding year for everybody. I have been so impressed with the way everyone from our students right through to our leaders have responded to the crisis, particularly in terms of opening the lines of internal communication and the moral and psychological support that has been offered to each other. It has also been a real pleasure to be able to share the triumphs in our Weekly Updates and to see how actively our communications processes responded and adapted to the needs of the CLEX community. As we come to the end of 2020 and look towards promising signs that this pandemic may be drawing to a close, I wish everybody well over the holiday break and look forward to being able in the New Year to meet you all once again in our offices and chat about what we did over a coffee. This year has shown, more than any other, the value of working together and sharing conversations together in one space. I can’t wait for the first afternoon tea of 2021.