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Meteo 495D Context: This is the paper I submitted this past Fall 2011 semester to receive credit for

r my internship at AESEDA. Internship at AESEDA Last December, I was offered the position of Climate Change Intern with the Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering, and Development in Africa (AESEDA). I was to work under Research Associate Dr. Neil Brown for the duration of the summer of 2011 and assist with the Sustainability Leadership and Communication LEAP program. The most appealing components of the internship were the chance to work with students, communicate climate change science to them, and travel to the country that I was researching. Throughout the Fall 2010 semester, I had gained a deeper appreciation and understanding for the true necessity of communication of science to lay audiences. At the same time, I was discovering my own skill for writing and communicating on both the technical and non- technical level as I completed my coursework throughout the semester. That Fall 2010 semester was a writing-intensive one for me. I was taking Meteo 440W (Principles of Atmospheric Measurements), Meteo 422 (Advanced Atmospheric Dynamics), and Geog 412W (Climatic Change and Variability). All three classes were introducing me to the style of writing for a scientific journal. Each class approached the topic from a different angle. As a result I was provided with a better idea of where exactly I could fit into the scientific writing field. There were writing assignments specifically intended for other meteorologists, for scientists in general, for the general public, and even for third graders. Previously, I hadnt been cognizant of the fact that science writing could be so versatile. My points of contact were via very technical meteorology, chemistry, and physics textbooks or scientific journals that made little sense to me and were a real struggle to get through as a first- and second-year undergraduate student. Repeatedly throughout the semester all three professors emphasized the importance of being able to communicate to both a scientific and a lay audience and how such a skill is truly lacking in modern science. I was intrigued because not only was I nailing the writing assignments, but I was actually enjoying the challenge of finding a way to connect with each audience. I began to realize that I could be a possible bridge between the scientific community and the rest of the world. Furthermore, climate change is a very misunderstood subject as a result of the existing gap between science and the public. It seemed as though I was finally figuring out what I wanted to do with my degree in Meteorology. When Dr. Neil Brown explained the details of the internship to me, he had me hooked when he mentioned that one of my responsibilities would be to find ways to present climate change to a group of Penn State college students. It was a new audience to target and I was excited to meet the challenge. Furthermore, I would be focusing my research on how climate change specifically affects Jamaica, a region that I had never studied before, let alone visited. It would be interesting to incorporate our physical location in Jamaica into the communication, especially since Jamaica is one of a number of small-island developing states most at risk for climate change and already experiencing its impacts.

On day one of the internship, Dr. Brown sat down with me and laid out the plan for the summer, grouping my duties into five objectives. The first objective was to gather as much information on climate change in Jamaica as I could find by exhausting the World Wide Web and library resources. This was basically a means of creating a healthy foundation for my research and gaining familiarity with what information does exist in regard to Jamaica and climate change. The second and third objectives were to pull together the information I found and assemble it for two audiences: the LEAP students and Jamaican livestock producers. The fourth objective was to downscale about 20 years of temperature and precipitation data for two stations in Jamaica to discern any shift in climate at each location. Downscaling is the computer modeling process of deriving a more detailed climate analysis for site locations that low-resolution General Circulation Models are presently unable to. Finally, the fifth objective was to aid Dr. Brown in the implementation of the LEAP program while traveling in Jamaica. My only real expectations heading into the summer were that I would have the opportunity to communicate climate change science. As it turned out, there was plenty of opportunity to do so. My typical daily responsibilities included pulling together information and preparing documents intended for Dr. Brown to keep him updated on what I was finding. It was both an exercise and a means to an end. It was an exercise because it forced me to look at my research and make sense of it periodically and then reassemble it into my own words. It was a means to an end because I needed to do the research in order to complete the internship objectives of communicating climate change to the LEAP students and the livestock producers. Dr. Brown would often ask me to summarize my findings in different ways with different audiences in mind. For my downscaling research, I was asked to create a Downscaling for Dummies how-to guide with step-by-step instructions about the process of downscaling. For my Jamaican climate change research, I prepared a bare-essentials guide to the most important aspects of climate change for the producers including trends, vulnerabilities, impacts, and methods of adaptation and preparation. As the internship progressed, the communication of climate change to the LEAP students became the focus. Dr. Brown was giving me a full class session to present my research and conduct a lesson with his LEAP students. Every day I worked on creating and improving my lesson plan, both independently and through discussions and mentoring with Dr. Brown. The amount of time that was spent in preparing and perfecting my lesson plan was slightly unexpected. As a result, the downscaling really took a backseat throughout much of the summer. When I wasnt working on my lesson plan or researching current climate change information for Jamaica, I would occasionally sit in on Dr. Browns class and/or substitute for him while he was away. This gave me a chance to better know my audience, become more comfortable in front of an audience, and make adjustments to my lesson plan accordingly. As mentioned, the downscaling did begin to take a backseat as the focus shifted towards the creation of a lesson plan however this was not until after I had first been familiarized with the process of downscaling. I was assigned multiple readings from scientific journals to grasp the concept and then had a question-and-answer session with Dr. Robert Crane who is actively involved in downscaling for the state of Pennsylvania. One of the first things I noticed was how complicated the process of downscaling really is and how one read through a few journals was not going to be enough if I was to later perform the process on my own. Secondly, I noticed how much my meteorology education had set me up to sift

through the complexity and make sense of it all, specifically Meteorology 422 (Advanced Atmospheric Dynamics). We spent a significant portion of the semester discussing numerical modeling, including its constraints and limitations and the need for parameterizations due to coarse model resolutions. My internship had introduced me to a method of getting around the generalizations of parameterization in numerical modeling and allowing me to gain a more detailed picture of climate over time in two specific locations within Jamaica, an area that typically falls entirely within a grid cell and thus is necessarily parameterized as well as rarely given a city-scale climate projection. Because of my time spent in Meteo 422 I was familiar with the complex and countless partial differential equations being used to simulate the atmosphere. The equations themselves are impossible to solve exactly and the potential for error is detrimental to the accuracy of the results given the compounding nature of the model as it progresses through each time step. Furthermore, the partial differential equations used in the model must be supplemented with parameterizations or assumptions about the system, such as topography, convection, evaporation, condensation, radiation, surface albedo, and distribution of soil moisture. Downscaling was going to allow me to analyze the climate for two very different locations within Jamaica, something that traditional numerical modeling is unable to do with much accuracy. Through my introduction to statistical downscaling I was able to see how my working knowledge of atmospheric processes and their translation into atmospheric modeling can be a useful skill in the professional world as methodologies for climate projection evolve and function at increasingly smaller resolutions. This internship has ended up being like a gift that just keeps on giving. Throughout the experience, I knew I was growing and learning in ways I hadnt before, but in the days following I have ever since been discovering new takeaways. These takeaways extend beyond the realm of solidifying my career plans. They have impacted the way I approach life in general. Two of the biggest lessons that consistently impact my day-to-day interactions and decisions involve opportunity and interconnectedness. Dr. Brown operated on these two principles. In the beginning, it almost appeared as if Dr. Brown was allergic to planning. He was notoriously associated with being vague and keeping everyone in the dark until the last possible second. I watched as his students struggled to sort out where he was going with every assignment. Then I watched as every single thing Dr. Brown did wove into the big picture of his objectives for the LEAP course on sustainability and the four principles of sustainability that he was using to define the term: limit extraction, limit pollution, limit degradation, and remove barriers. Every action fit in ways I would have never predicted. Sometimes, neither would he. That was the beauty of opportunity. Or seizing opportunity, I should say. The principle of opportunity awoke a sense of creativity within me and inspired the direction I am now leaning with my degree in meteorology. I could write a book on the opportunities seized during those two months working under Dr. Brown but three of the most memorable instances occurred during Arts Fest, on a beach in Jamaica, and in the middle of my lesson with the students. Arts Fest fell at a good point in the semester for the LEAP students. It was about mid-way through their summer session. They were getting antsy and excited for their approaching trip to Jamaica. They were curious about the commotion Arts Fest was creating throughout the campus and downtown. Dr. Brown decided to step outside of his plans and incorporate Arts Fest into the days

lesson. The assignment became a chance for the students to leave the classroom, interact with some of the artists, discover for themselves what Arts Fest really is, and find ways in which sustainability is incorporated in the event. They all came back at the end of the class period and shared their findings with each other. They each had their own unique twist on how sustainability was represented at Arts Fest. Combined, they all gained a more complete picture of what sustainability looks like in practice and even found ways in which sustainability could have been incorporated where it was not. It was incredible how much they were able to get from such a spontaneous and simple assignment. I am confident in saying it was much more than they would have gotten out of the planned lecture for the day. A second instance of a spontaneous lesson was a result of being in the right place at the right time one early morning in Jamaica as the fishermen were just preparing to head out for their daily catch. Dr. Brown intercepted one of the fishermen and made arrangements for a fish dinner on the beach later that evening. Because Dr. Brown was able to recognize the opportunity at the moment that he did, we were all able to witness a small-scale local fishing operation from start to stomach and have direct interaction with the locals to ask questions and learn more about the Jamaican culture all under the lens of sustainability. By this point in the internship and in the trip, I was realizing first-hand how impactful just paying attention, finding connections, and seizing opportunities could be in the process of learning. Finally, yet another opportunity for learning arose amidst an activity I had the students partake in to illustrate the severity and impact of climate change in Jamaica. I had designed an activity involving the game of Jenga, but instead of the traditional removal of one block per turn, each student would draw a slip of paper that read a vulnerability that Jamaica has to climate change and an instruction to remove a proportional number of blocks from the tower. At one point in the activity, a group had a member accidentally nudge the table on which the tower was resting causing blocks to fall from the barely balancing tower. The other members of the group werent happy and the student who had caused the disturbance felt the pressure from being at fault. Always recognizing opportunity when its there, Dr. Brown had me weave that occurrence into my post-game reflections with the class. It truly was a perfect example of how we as individuals can each make an impact on the environment that in turn can affect the planet as a whole. In this instance, the tower was already being attacked by extreme event after extreme event as each new draw of a slip of paper instructed the student to bring more instability into the equation. The last thing that was needed was yet another unforeseeable and devastating disruption. The whole tower was at risk of being completely wiped out. Because of that students unplanned nudge, I was able to illustrate a whole new dimension of climate change in a way that the students could really connect with. As a result of this internship, I am more confident than ever that I want to pursue a career that combines communication with climate change. Even more importantly, this internship has shown me how to foster real learning about topics that are often misunderstood, a crucial element of climate change communication. Dr. Brown often referred to the skills I have acquired over the course of the internship as tools in my toolbox. I feel confident that I now have enough tools in my toolbox to begin making an impact in the area of climate change communication and I will forever approach the topic from a standpoint of opportunity awareness and big picture interconnectivity.