87th AMS Annual Meeting

Monday, 15 January 2007: 4:00 PM
State climatologists serving the public through interactions with the media
205 (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
David A. Robinson, Rutgers Univ., Piscataway, NJ
Along with conducting relevant research and gathering pertinent data, community outreach is one of the primary responsibilities of a state climatologist as they serve their constituents. As such, most state climatologists maintain active web sites, give public lectures and interact with print, radio and television reporters. For example, as the NJ State Climatologist, I give approximately 300 interviews each year, and in the drought year of 2002 the total exceeded 500. Topics range widely, but can be categorized as addressing: 1) impending, ongoing or recent weather events (e.g. snow storm), 2) impending, ongoing or recent climate events (e.g. drought), 3) climate variability and change, and 4) general inquiries (e.g. how to build a snowman!).

Rarely does the Office of the NJ State Climatologist issue a press release regarding an event or issue. After 15 years at the helm, reporters know my phone number (used most frequently), email address (used occasionally) or web site (of late, the media are accessing posted monthly reports more frequently). However should an event warrant, such as a winter drought that is slowly "sneaking up" on the state, a release is issued through the University's media office.

These frequent media contacts provide reporters with substantial background information, including a climatological perspective on relevant issues. Subsequently, this increases the public's awareness and understanding of the myriad of weather and climate issues that are of interest and importance to them, and is clearly an effective means of reaching as many people as possible.

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