Friday, 23 March 2012


PUP poster FINAL

Finished (well, printed) my poster for next week's international Planet Under Pressure conference today. It makes use of my recent (and surprisingly quite successful) simulation of MEDUSA-2.0 under RCP 8.5 forcing from one of the UKMO's IPCC runs. After a bit of a graceless start - largely down to disequilibrium caused by the carbon cycle's initial condition - MEDUSA managed to knuckle down and start behaving itself by the middle of the 20th century, and became nicely acidified by year 2100. The run has one acidification feedback in it (calcium carbonate production), so there were some moderately interesting points to pull out of the run in the end. EKP has spotted a few features of the run's Arctic performance that she's not especially happy about, but we might be stuck with those because of the forcing we're wedded to. We had enough trouble getting that to give us sensible ocean circulation, so I'm not confident about finessing NEMO's physical performance.

Just the actual conference to look forwards to now. It promises to be one of those strange marriages between science and politics, so I'm not holding my breath. But, as such, it'll at least be quite different from the usual run of the mill. There are a number of big political names down to speak or to host, but given the lack of urgency with which the body politic deals with environmental concerns, it may just be more talking the talk.

Anyway, given that I may be returning to no job after the conference, my lofty scoffing might be entirely academic. It'll be difficult to be quite so environmentally scrupulous if I find myself sans employment.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

And it's not even mine

Courtesy (probably) of the chaotic intricacies of the interweb, this past week has seen this photograph ...


... shoot up the popularity charts of my Flickr account. Prior to last week, it was sitting on only a handful of hits, but something happened on the 15th March and since then it's sky-rocketed to 720 viewings (the "second best" photograph in my Flickr collection is sitting at 298 viewings) ...

It's all calming down now, but along the way the photograph has also been "favourite-ed" 30 times by a slew of Flickr members I've never met before (thanks, by the way).

So, what gives? The clue [*] seems to be in the appearance of Tumblr in the referring website list. While I'd only faintly heard about this site before, a perusal of one of the referrers reveals it as some sort of recycler of images, where people can repost things they've seen and liked into a stream of (visual) consciousness. Or something.

Anyway, it looks like this image of Skógafoss has been sucked up into Tumblr and passed around various of its members, many of whom have kindly visited the original and bumped up my Flickr viewings count (not that I'm counting, OK). But, like the epidemic of an infectious disease, this surge has now run its course, and the photograph can probably now pass into oblivion once more.

The worst bit is that it's not even one of my photographs (... as is probably obvious from the fact that I appear in it).

[*] It can only reasonably be described as a "clue" by those, such as me, who are generally clue-less about social media sites such as Tumblr. Everyone else would just view that as an indication of the bleeding obvious.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Metrics of redundancy

The end is nigh. Almost. Earlier this week we received our classifications as either support or "leading" scientists, as well as the appropriate pro forma that accompanies this diagnosis. I'm in the latter (though most of what I do is grunt-work) so my fate dangles uncomfortably on my publication record and the clawing in of cash. The former is a perfectly acceptable metric to judge a scientist on, the latter, while not terrible, can miss the point a bit in our organisation since we're largely supported by core funding that (largely) obviates the need to apply for cold hard cash. Needless to say, while I have been flailing about unsuccessfully for money, it hasn't been a priority for me.

Anyway, as part of this pro forma I've been cobbling together stuff on my less-than-stellar publication record. The Web of Knowledge has a subsection to help with this so yesterday I set myself up with a profile and linked together my ISI-recognised list of papers. This lets me calculate something called the "h-index" for myself (14, apparently), and produce a whole load of faintly interesting graphs about my work.

This one shows how I'm accumulating citations since I burst onto the "scene" back in 1998 (Lamarck and prions). At first glance it looks pretty good. But even a cursory second glance makes it look like I've peaked - and am possibly on the way back down! :-)

This second one shows where I'm being cited, or, rather, what keywords are associated with the places I'm being cited. Interesting that oceanography comes in second, but I guess that some of the journals I'm published in (e.g. GBC) aren't strictly ocean-only. I've no idea why my work is quite so appealing to geology, but I'll take citations wherever I can get them. Especially at this point!

Anyway, our pro forma summaries have to be in by the 12th March (perfect timing given I'm off on holiday until then), and then the judging process begins. D-Day for our fates is the 28th March (again, perfect, since I'm at a conference then). Just in time for Easter and the resurrection of "the departed" into glorious new careers. It's going to be a bad month whether I survive or not.