Climate change is one of the most fateful questions of our time, largely affecting the general public. The public is thus expected by politicians to take responsibility for actions towards the reduction of climate impact. Since this demands a high level of understanding, both researchers and politicians point out the demand for an uncompromised and scientifically validated public communication on this complex issue. There is an evident need to find ways of communicating the scientific basis of climate change, its global implications and relevant action strategies to a variety of public audiences. Several types of science communication have been developed in different parts of the world to engage the public in climate-related issues and to explain the scientific basis of climate change. A development and evaluation of these types of science communication becomes particularly important when communicating action alternatives and life-style related issues to different audiences.

This paper will focus on an ongoing development project applying state-of-the-art computer graphics and visualization techniques to communicate climate science and policy research. The climate visualization program is presented in a full-dome theatre, with space for 100 visitors, based partly on an interactive geospatial visualization software and partly on 3D animation or video sequences. The program is aimed towards different audiences ranging from students in junior high school to a mixed audience attending the open general program in their spare time.

The objective of this paper is to critically analyze the potentials and challenges of climate communication through interactive dome visualization. Based on our earlier studies and a literature review of studies of public understanding of climate change and climate communication, we have identified two main focus areas, which we consider relevant when designing and implementing a visualization program for dome environments.

The first focus area concerns how we can tailor the visualization program to different target groups. We will discuss the role of narratives and how these need to be adapted to different audiences, as well as how the method of cognitive mapping could be used to investigate the audience’s representations of climate change prior to the visit in the dome theatre.

Second, we will develop our ideas of how to engage the public and stimulate climate-friendly lifestyles through the visualization program. Much research has shown that when it comes to environmental issues, there is often a gap between people’s attitudes and their behavior, and increased knowledge about climate change may not always lead to a change of lifestyles. Earlier studies have pointed to the importance of placing the abstract issue of climate change in a concrete context which engages audiences on a personal level. Hence, the visualization project will identify narratives that may combine global causes and effects of climate change with local impacts and action strategies. We will also discuss how climate visualization programs could benefit from interaction between scientists and the public during dome presentations.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Communicating climate change through interactive dome visualization– Frameworks, potentials and challenges

Victoria Wibeck   Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research

Tina-Simone Neset   Centre for Climate Science and Policy Research

Climate change is one of the most fateful questions of our time, largely affecting the general public. The public is thus expected by politicians to take responsibility for actions towards the reduction of climate impact. Since this demands a high level of understanding, both researchers and politicians point out the demand for an uncompromised and scientifically validated public communication on this complex issue. There is an evident need to find ways of communicating the scientific basis of climate change, its global implications and relevant action strategies to a variety of public audiences. Several types of science communication have been developed in different parts of the world to engage the public in climate-related issues and to explain the scientific basis of climate change. A development and evaluation of these types of science communication becomes particularly important when communicating action alternatives and life-style related issues to different audiences.

This paper will focus on an ongoing development project applying state-of-the-art computer graphics and visualization techniques to communicate climate science and policy research. The climate visualization program is presented in a full-dome theatre, with space for 100 visitors, based partly on an interactive geospatial visualization software and partly on 3D animation or video sequences. The program is aimed towards different audiences ranging from students in junior high school to a mixed audience attending the open general program in their spare time.

The objective of this paper is to critically analyze the potentials and challenges of climate communication through interactive dome visualization. Based on our earlier studies and a literature review of studies of public understanding of climate change and climate communication, we have identified two main focus areas, which we consider relevant when designing and implementing a visualization program for dome environments.

The first focus area concerns how we can tailor the visualization program to different target groups. We will discuss the role of narratives and how these need to be adapted to different audiences, as well as how the method of cognitive mapping could be used to investigate the audience’s representations of climate change prior to the visit in the dome theatre.

Second, we will develop our ideas of how to engage the public and stimulate climate-friendly lifestyles through the visualization program. Much research has shown that when it comes to environmental issues, there is often a gap between people’s attitudes and their behavior, and increased knowledge about climate change may not always lead to a change of lifestyles. Earlier studies have pointed to the importance of placing the abstract issue of climate change in a concrete context which engages audiences on a personal level. Hence, the visualization project will identify narratives that may combine global causes and effects of climate change with local impacts and action strategies. We will also discuss how climate visualization programs could benefit from interaction between scientists and the public during dome presentations.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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