IPCC colour scheme for the RCPs


For those who work with the RCPs (the Representative Concentration Pathways), it seems like colour schemes should be simple. Same set of simulations – same colours. Easy. But it’s not – almost every paper I’ve read uses a different set of colours.

So… the IPCC report (WG1) should have sorted this out. It did, mostly. *Most* of the plots use this scheme:


RCP2.6 RCP4.5 RCP6.0 RCP8.5
Hex #0000FF #79BCFF #FF822D #FF0000
RGB 0 0 255 121 188 255 255 130 45 255 0 0
Looks like: Royal Blue Light Blue Orange Red


It’s provided here for your convenience in hexadecimal and RGB.

You might not like the colours they used. Like me, you might think that the use of the same diverging colour scheme for maps and RCPs alike is a bit controversial (given the non-linearity of almost anything that’s not watts per meter squared in the RCPs). But maybe, hopefully, we can all accept and use this colour scheme for plots and publications using the RCPs. It makes it so much easier for the reader. And we can do something more productive with our time than puzzle over which colour scheme to use. (I am a big fan of colorbrewer for this purpose.)

Hat tip to Ed Hawkins for helping me with this.

AGU 2013 canopy interception capacity


If you missed seeing me at AGU, or just would like closer look at the work I’m doing at the moment, you can download a copy of the poster.

Normal provisos apply – this work is submitted to a journal, it is yet to be subject to peer review, etc. etc.

If you’d like to know more about this work, please do contact me.

400 ppm AGU session – the online story version


The AGU on demand service is available for the 400ppm CO2, Communicating climate science Union session which I convened last week – search for U52A. You’ll need to create an account and put in the discount code ‘AGU13’. After January you’ll need to be an AGU member, or have to pay for the privilege.

If all that sounds like too much hassle, then you can get the flavour of the session via the talk online about it in the storify below.

Essential tech and web tools for Geography Undergrads and Postgrads

Ladies and Gentlemen embarking on a degree, masters or PhD course.

Use a citation manager.

The benefits of using a citation manager have been proven by academics the world over. The rest of my advice about what are useful tools is somewhat subjective and possibly sub-discipline specific. But trust me about the citation manager. For academia, it’s more essential than sunscreen.

AGU 2013 Fall meeting – LUC and Climate Communication


December seems like a long time away, but AGU Fall Meeting sessions are already decided. This year I’m convening two sessions. Future Land Use Change and Climate is a Global Environmental Change session that will bring together the diverse research communities that study interactions at the land surface. Authors are invited to present research which helps understanding of the drivers and consequences of land cover change – both for understanding earth systems and also as a guide for policy. climate-communication-AGU 400ppm carbon dioxide – communicating climate science effectively is a Union session. A two hour oral session, this session will have invited speakers who have dealt with the immediate issue of climate change in a new way – looking at communicating climate science beyond traditional pay-walled journals and really making an impact. This is the sister session to a Global Environmental Change physical science based session, Understanding 400 ppm Climate: Past, Present and Future.


Update: the schedule for AGU has now been published.

Future Land Use Change and Climate sessions are all on Thursday 12th December. Oral session I 8am – 10am, Oral session II 10.20am – 12.20 will both be in Moscone West 3001. The poster session is that afternoon, 1.40pm – 6pm. Speakers include: Julia Pongratz, Judith Verstegen, Etsushi Kato, Dominique Bachelet, Victor Brovkin, Katherine Calvin, Prananth Meiyappan, Louise Chini, and Govindasamy Bala.

400ppm CO2 : Communicating Climate Science Effectively is on Friday 13th December, 10.20 – 12.20, in Moscone South room 102. This session is ‘Virtual Option’ and will be available to watch streamed live. Speakers are Naomi Oreskes, Myles R. Allen, Robert Lempert and James Hansen. 

Telling stories, or ‘what is story in academic writing?’


What is ‘story’ in academia and how can we create a great story? This is the question I’ve been talking about in a post about academic story, over at PhD2Published.

The importance of ‘story’ in journal articles and academic writing was (very) slow in coming to me. When someone first said to me, “At least we have a story,” I was frankly confused. What on earth is a story in a journal article? We have results, not a story. By the time someone else said it to me, I wondered if it might be an insult…. Yet another person re-wrote my whole paper, and when I wanted to know what he’d done, he described in his eclectic fashion that he tried to tell a story, and how he did that.

Now I seem to hear about story all the time – but I suspect that many starting writing papers, like me, have no idea what it means. You can read the whole story on story (ah, puns, who can resist them?) over at PhD2Published.

Natural Systems and Processes Poster Session 2013

As well as having a poster at this year’s Bristol University Postgraduate Poster Natural Systems and Processes Poster Session, I was also one of the organising committee making sure that it was bigger and better than last year. That meant:

  • Great prizes – Kindle Fires as the top prize, to really motivate people to make their posters clear and accessible.
  • More contacts – this year we were privileged to have a representative from NERC with us to look for impact stories, as well as the Dean of Science, the Dean of Graduate Studies and many Professors and other Research Staff.
  • A more social experience – we used twitter and facebook to advertise the event and get PG students engaged with it.
  • More advice on making beautiful and informative posters – we included links to Colin Purrington’s advice as well as the Better Posters Blog on the NSPPS website.
  • More inclusive – for the first time we invited along undergraduate students to engage with graduate level research and get ideas for their dissertation topics.

The event was busy and the catering for 200 which we provided was quickly gone.

Open Access Academic Publishing

My research is funded by NERC, who have announced that from April 2013, any research that they fund must be available, free of charge, to the public who indirectly funded said research. This is great, as many researchers will no doubt feel, as I do, that if research is funded by tax payers, it should be accessible by tax payers. Further, many feel that information should be accessible. That research is something that could benefit a much wider audience than currently has access it it. However, this new regulation does pose a practical problem for researchers, who want to publish in the most respected, high profile peer reviewed journals. These are nearly all behind a paywall (quite an expensive one, at that).

There are an increasing number of journals which are open access, (that is to say, free to the reader), which is a very pleasing trend, but they are often accompanied by hefty publication fees. Similarly, some major journal publishers have introduced a flat rate fee, paid by the author, to make their article freely available to readers (this is an even heftier fee). In effect what this does is moves the cost (i.e. the source of profit for the journal) from the knowledge consumer at point of consumption to the researcher at point of knowledge creation/dissemination. Arguably this is progress, but I’m not really sure how much of an improvement it is.

The alternative to this appears to be that many journals allow the author to privately distribute a post-review, but pre-publication copy of their article, through their establishment or website. Which journals allow this, and at what stage, is a problem being solved by Sherpa/Romeo – a brilliant resource for checking easily what the restrictions for any particular journal are, and whether they comply with your particular funding body.

This is hardly a new problem (the limitations of the academic publishing system are well known and so I won’t recount them here). But I’m really glad to see an impetus coming from the funding bodies – who hold the purse strings and therefore the influence – to bring about some (albeit possibly limited) change.