Climate Communication Prize

Jennifer A. Francis

Woodwell Climate Research Center



Nominating someone for an award should not have been this fun; it really was our pleasure to nominate Dr. Jennifer Francis for this important award. While we acknowledge that there are other candidates who too are certainly qualified for this award, we can’t imagine anyone more deserving than Dr. Francis.


Dr. Francis is, first and foremost, a top researcher.Her work has truly been at the leading edge of current climate research. She has, in particular, made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the impact of climate change on middle- and high-latitude atmospheric dynamics. Dr. Francis’s work in this area has proven prescient. While initially garnering some controversy, primarily because of the novelty of the mechanisms she has proposed, time has been the ultimate arbiter; her work suggesting that climate change favorsa slower, more meandering jet stream has withstood considerable scrutiny and is increasingly accepted as part of the corpus of scientific thinking


Because of its profound implication in the arena of climate change and extreme weather events, Dr. Francis’s research has also generated intense public interest. While some scientists might eschew the public exposure given the fraught nature of our public discourse, she has embraced the opportunity to communicate her research and its implications to the public. 


As we noted in our nomination letter, 


[In] Dr. Francis, we have a candidate who has charted such an active communication pathway, it is hard to find someone who parallels her work. We believe that the magnitude, quality, and significance of her communication efforts put her into a group of one. Dr. Francis has been one of the most active scientists in the popular press. She became nearly ubiquitous in climate-change press articles.There, she expertly educates huge portions of the US and international public about how climate change affects our lives.”


A review of the body of her outreach efforts demonstrates an almost singular ability to connect cutting-edge atmospheric research with the larger needs of our society. Her skills have been on display in major venues like the New York Times, NBC News, Bloomberg, NewsweekScience, the Boston Globe, NPR, National Geographic, PBS NOVA, WBUR Boston, CBC, the Washington PostScientific American, PBS NewsHour, NPR’s Science Friday show, Discover, and many, many others (and this is just a sampling of her 2019 activities alone!).


We know that Dr. Francis has a long career ahead.We also know that she will continue to inspire her colleagues with her excellence in both the research and outreach arenas. This honor simply could not be more well deserved.


John Abraham, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.; and Michael E. Mann, Pennsylvania State University, University Park



I could not have been more surprised or more honored to receive this prize. My two nominators, Dr. John Abraham and Dr. Michael Mann, have written a citation worthy of extreme blushing (the good kind). These two accomplished scientists are also greats in the world of communicating climate science to nonscientific audiences, so their generous words are all the more meaningful and appreciated. I am especially grateful because I know these two are exceedingly busy with their own research, teaching, publishing, and communication efforts, yet they recognized the value in taking the considerable time to compile nomination materials on my behalf. I plan to do the same for one of my deserving colleagues, and I hope others will follow suit. 

Finally, I am exceedingly grateful to AGU for creating the Climate Communication Prize to recognize the ever-increasing need for effective science communication about the climate crisis. Encouraging scientists to stick their necks out to translate the complex yet crucial impacts of climate change on all aspects of society has never been more important. 

Jennifer Francis, Woodwell Climate Research Center, Falmouth, Mass.