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A Frozen-Ground Cartoon: Explaining international permafrost research using comic strips.
Permafrost is a fascinating but hidden world of ice, frozen soil, bacteria and gases. The transdisciplinary outreach project Frozen-Ground Cartoons (FGC) makes permafrost science accessible and fun for children, their parents and teachers around the globe.
Permafrost occupies 20 million square kilometres of Earth’s high-latitude and high-altitude landscapes. These regions are sensitive to climate change and human activities; hence, permafrost research is of considerable scientific and societal importance. However, the results of this research are generally not known by the general public. Communicating scientific concepts is an increasingly important task in the research world. Different ways to engage learners and incorporate narratives in teaching materials exist, yet they are generally underused. Here we report on an international scientific outreach project called “Frozen-Ground Cartoons”, which aims at making permafrost science accessible and fun for students, teachers, and parents through the creation of comic strips. We present the context in which the project was initiated, as well as recent education and outreach activities. The future phases of the project primarily involve a series of augmented reality materials, such as maps, photos, videos, and 3D drawings. With this project we aim to foster understanding of permafrost research among broader audiences, inspire future permafrost researchers, and raise public and science community awareness of polar science, education, outreach, and engagement.
Apart from people in cold region communities and the steadily growing scientific community, one knows very little about permafrost and the “whats”, “whys”, and “hows” of permafrost research. Our scientific outreach project called ‘Frozen-Ground Cartoons’ aims at making permafrost science accessible to children, youth, their parents, and teachers via a series of comic strips. Here we present the second phase of the project, which will involve a series of augmented reality (AR) material, such as maps, photos, videos and 3D drawings. AR material will be accessible by scanning the cartoons with a portable device (phone, tablet), generating complementary scientific information about permafrost. This project is part of the outreach program in the H2020 project Nunataryuk.
Apart from people in cold region communities and a small – although steadily growing – scientific community, the general public knows very little about permafrost properties, its dynamics in response to climate change, and the research going on in the field. We are addressing this by making permafrost science accessible to children, youth, their parents, and teachers. We are producing a 100% outreach-related project that aims at ‘Fostering permafrost research to the ends of the Earth’ (http://ipa.arcticportal.org), but with a casual approach via a series of comic strips. Cartoons are excellent ways to communicate messages in today’s media landscape: they are graphic, funny and direct, and can be rapidly shared via social media to reach many people. Our outreach project targets the general public, focusing on young students who have to choose career paths at the high school or college levels. By introducing them to permafrost research activities, particularly fieldwork, our ‘Frozen-Ground Cartoon’ will enhance the dissemination of permafrost knowledge and broaden the international community of permafrost ‘lovers’. This new project is coordinated by a core group of permafrost early career researchers from Canada, Germany, Sweden and Portugal (in collaboration with an ‘external senior advisor’), and is endorsed by the International Permafrost Association (IPA) as a targeted ‘Action Group’ (http://ipa.arcticportal.org/activities/action-groups). Here we present an overview of our Action Group, including main objectives, significance, and potential future outcomes.