In the last few years, media coverage of climate change has proliferated. For climate scientists like Stephanie Pfirman, a professor of Environmental Science at Barnard College and expert on the effect of climate change on Arctic sea ice, sudden mainstream attention to their field can be a mixed blessing. Media coverage of climate change moves quickly but often misinterprets the underlying scientific research. A new website developed by Pfirman, a team of scientists and researchers, and the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning seeks to provide accurate yet easy-to-understand information and resources vetted by leading climate scientists and education experts.
The website is called The PoLAR Hub, and is part of a larger project funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation's Climate Change Education Partnership (CCEP) program, which seeks to establish a coordinated national network of regionally- or thematically-based partnerships devoted to increasing the adoption of effective, high quality educational programs and resources related to the science of climate change and its impacts.
In 2010, Pfirman and a network of scientists, educators, and researchers from institutions including Columbia University, Teachers College, the American Museum of Natural History, and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks were awarded a 2-year grant to develop the Polar Learning and Responding (PoLAR) Partnership. In 2012, the PoLAR Partnership received an additional 5-year grant to produce a suite of interactive and game-like tools that capitalize on the iconic imagery of the Arctic and Antarctic.
CCNMTL joined the PoLAR Partnership to design and develop The PoLAR Hub, which serves as a central source of information on the various tools and resources created by the Partnership. “The PoLAR Hub is the best place to learn more about when our projects are available, where they can be found, and in some cases, how those interested can participate,” says Jessica Brunacini, project manager of the PoLAR Partnership.
In addition to news and information related to the Partnership, the website highlights recent articles and research about climate change in the polar regions and features a curated collection of educational tools and resources focused on Arctic and Antarctic climate change. Over the next four years, PoLAR partners will work together to build a robust and interactive website that engages lifelong learners from all backgrounds.