Education & Outreach Group

Overview

The education and outreach programs of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center focus on conveying the cutting-edge science of the Center’s research teams, improving geosciences education, and providing educational opportunities and technical expertise on climate change. Of special note over the past two years, the outreach team has received funding for two NSF-funded projects, begun work on a climate action plan for the City of Columbus, created extensive collaborations with the reinvigorated State Climate Office of Ohio, and built a bridge to the agricultural community through work with OSU Extension.

Outreach Programs of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center are supported by the following: National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, The Ohio State University, and Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center Education & Outreach Fund.

Team Members

Education & Outreach Director: Jason Cervenec

Postdoctoral Researcher: Stacy Porter

Senior Research Associate: Aaron Wilson

Research Associate: Julien Nicolas

BPCRC Media Specialist: Pamela Theodotou

Education & Outreach Student Staff: Geoff Dipre, Andrew Hutchman, Maria Burns, Kira Harris

Alumni: Carol Landis, Nathan Patrick, Jacob Hoelscher, Ryan Crumley, James Roubal, Cameron Roberts, Bingyu (Sophia) Li, Ryan Cummings, Emily Sambuco, Yihao (Sam) Zhang

Current Funded Projects

Harnessing Education and Technology for Environmental Detection (HEATED)

Our project team is utilizing an undergraduate course and diverse group of students to design and build a device, to collect geo- and time-tagged temperature data when deployed on moving vehicles, and to create a database, to store and assimilate data collected by the device. This project will result in a device prototype; an innovate, replicable course; data to better understand urban heat islands; and a multidisciplinary team prepared to continue research through other funding opportunities. This project is funded by a Battelle Engineering, Technology, and Human Affairs (BETHA) Endowment grant.

Virtual Ice Explorer: An immersive web application to visualize and explore Earth’s diverse glacial systems

Glaciers around the world are undergoing dramatic changes. Many people, however, have a limited understanding of the scope of these changes because they are geographically distant and difficult to visualize. Although both digital learning tools and online scientific data repositories have greatly expanded over the last decade, there is currently no interface that brings the two together in a way that allows the public to explore these rapidly changing glacial environments. Therefore, to both improve public understanding and provide greater access to already existing resources, the project team will develop the Virtual Ice Explorer to encourage informal learning about glacial environments. This web application will feature an immersive virtual environment and display a suite of environmental data for an array of Earth’s glacial systems. An interactive globe will allow users to select from a collection of sites ranging from polar regions to tropical latitudes. Each featured site will offer users an opportunity to interact with (1) a 3D rendering of the landscape; (2) a local map of the site; (3) historical and contemporary photographs of the site; (4) background information text describing the location, past research, and climate impacts; and (5) available environmental data. One of the most original features of the application will be its realistic, immersive 3D rendering of glacial landscapes by combining very high-resolution digital elevation models and satellite imagery with the application's built-in capabilities for immersive virtual environments. Although immersive environments often require expensive equipment, we are maximizing accessibility by developing the Virtual Ice Explorer to run in a web browser and function across various devices. Thus, the application will be available to anyone with internet access, and they can explore at their own pace.

As part of the successful development of Virtual Ice Explorer, the project team will create a platform for digital elevation models to be visualized and explored in 3D by users within the web application; curate digital elevation models, maps, images, text, and environmental data for inclusion in the web application for up to 11 geographically diverse glaciers/glacial landscapes; iteratively user-test the web application with project partners; and design the architecture of the system to readily scale to a larger collection of glaciers/glacial landscapes. The project team has partnered with the U.S. Geologic Survey to showcase four benchmark glaciers in their long-term Glaciers and Climate Change project, therefore extending the reach of an already existing federal research investment. In addition to improving understanding of glacier systems in informal learning environments, the project team will explore applications for spatial learning, employment of 3D environments for educational interventions, and use of Virtual Ice Explorer in formal learning environments.

Fluid Earth Viewer (FEVer): An engaging and interactive educational tool to explore Earth's polar regions, atmospheric phenomena, and oceanographic conditions

This project aims to build the Fluid Earth Viewer (FEVer), an interactive, intuitive, and visually appealing web application that will allow users to visualize current and past conditions of our planet’s atmosphere and oceans. Building on a well-designed, open-source application, FEVer will be a vehicle of modern Earth science communication, bringing information most often utilized by the scientific community and making it accessible and engaging to STEM and broader communities. In particular, it will provide hands-on visualization of the important climatic role of the polar regions, their connections to lower latitudes, and the changes they are undergoing. A companion website, FEVer-Ed, will provide background, educational support, and opportunities for additional learning through a gallery of historically interesting atmospheric and oceanic events.

Columbus Climate Action Plan

During 2015, the Climate Change Committee of the Mayor’s Green Team worked with Great Lakes Integrated Sciences + Assessments (GLISA) (http://glisa.umich.edu/) to engage more than 80 stakeholders in the creation of an assessment of key climate changes, impacts, and vulnerabilities of concern (Climate Change in Columbus Ohio: An Assessment of Columbus’ Key Climate Changes, Impacts, and Vulnerabilities of Concern). This report provides an overview of the process that was followed in its creation, a prioritized list of impacts facing Columbus, and information about how other communities in the United States have responded to climate change. While the information within the report is necessary, it is not sufficient to guide planners, policymakers, companies, and private individuals in actions to prepare for climate change. Therefore, the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and State Climate Office of Ohio will guide the creation of a Columbus Climate Action Plan.

Ongoing Work

In addition to the specific projects listed above, the Educaton and Outreach Group manages much of the public web content of the Center and its social media streams, produces quarterly newsletters, arranges brown bag talks and seminars, and communicates information via the Center's listservs. The Group also designs and updates displays for Center researchers, conducts facility tours and public programs, arranges speakers for off-site programs, produces graphical and video content, and works to establish collaborations both on and off-campus. The Education and Outreach Group works closely with the State Climate Office of Ohio.

Ice Sheets - Education and Outreach Newsletter

PDF icon Winter 2017

Fall 2016

2016-2017 Areas of Focus

  • Communicate the science of the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center.
  • Improve educational materials and instruction in the Earth Sciences in both formal and informal settings.
  • Communicate accurate and timely information about climate change and increase educational opportunities.
  • Establish and grow strategic partnerships both on and off-campus.
  • Provide quality opportunities for BPCRC affiliates to improve their teaching, outreach, and collaboration.

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