One year on…

RealClimate has been online for just over a year, and so this is probably a good time to review the stories we’ve covered and assess how well the whole project is working out.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve tackled a 100+ scientific topics that range from water vapour feedbacks, the carbon cycle, climate sensitivity, satellite/surface temperature records, glacier retreat, climate modelling to hurricanes. We’ve had guest postings that span questions of Martian climate change to Arctic ozone depletion and solar forcing. We’ve crossed virtual swords with Michael Crichton, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, George Will, Nigel Lawson, Fox News and assorted documentary makers (though only one person ever threatened to sue us). Hopefully our contributions have interested, intrigued and occasionally amused (at least a few of you…).

In terms of feedback, our surprisingly frequent media mentions indicate that we’ve been at least partially successful in our original aim of helping inform journalists about the science, but there is clearly still a long way to go. We’ve been pleased to see links to RealClimate postings occuring frequently in other climate-related forums and our mailbag continues to be full of questions and suggestions for topics (please keep them coming!). It’s also been extremely uplifting to find so many people who are not professional scientists interested enough to post such detailed comments to the articles.

Overall, we have been more praised than vilified. We certainly haven’t kept everyone happy, though even those who aren’t happy still pay attention to what is posted. Indeed, there are websites that pore over our ruminations with the dedication heretofore only applied to the sayings of the Delphic Oracle (unlike the oracle though, we make no claims to prophecy and don’t encode hidden meanings in our responses).

While we’ve aspired to being a reasonably authoritative resource, we have occasionally slipped and used more personal language than was really necessary. It is difficult at times to remember that although blogsphere conversations happen very quickly, they stay around forever, and so a sober style is most appropriate. However, moderation of comments on this site has been absolutely necessary to avoid the descent into the schoolyard behaviour all too often found in unmoderated forums. This task is not however an exact science, and there have errors of both overzealousness and undermoderation. For that, we apologise.

Being involved in RealClimate has certainly increased our profiles in the climate community and our visibility in the mainstream media, though it’s not yet clear whether it is helping or hindering our own research. Blogging keeps us up-to-date with many different areas of the science, but there is a time penalty to be paid, although being a group blog makes that (just about) managable. The patience (and occasional tacit support) of our employers has been admirable.

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