Susan Joy Hassol is a climate change communicator, analyst, and author known for her ability to translate science into English, making complex issues accessible to policymakers and the public for 30 years. Susan speaks and publishes widely on current topics in climate change and climate communication including two recent essays in the New York Times. She was a contributing author of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in August 2021. Susan was the Senior Science Writer on three National Climate Assessments, authoritative reports written in plain language to better inform policymakers and the public about climate change and its effects on our nation. The Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), was released in May 2014, the second came out in 2009, and the first in 2000.
In 2021 Susan was honored with the prestigious Ambassador Award from the American Geophysical Union for her tireless efforts to improve communication of climate change science and solutions. In 2012 Susan was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her “exceptional contributions in the area of science communication, particularly for communication of the science of climate change to policymakers and the public.” In 2006, Susan received the Climate Institute’s first ever award for excellence in climate science communication. She served as Communication Advisor to the World Meteorological Organization’s Commission for Climatology. She served two terms on the Board of Directors of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and has been a Visiting Scholar at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, NC, as well as at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO.
Susan publishes widely on climate science, communication, solutions, and policies. Among her recent publications are two articles on the connections between heat waves and climate change in The New York Times in June and July 2021. She wrote on the connections between hurricanes and climate change in Scientific American and the Washington Post in September 2017, and a February 2017 Scientific American commentary entitled Climate Trumps Everything. Susan was the lead author of a November 2016 article titled (Un)Natural Disasters, about communicating the linkages between extreme weather events and climate change in the World Meteorological Organisation’s Bulletin. She published an article with Richard Somerville, in Physics Today in December 2011, titled “Communicating the Science of Climate Change.” Susan’s 2008 article in Eos, “Improving How Scientists Communicate About Climate Change,” provides a brief summary of her advice to scientists and includes many practical suggestions about language and framing.
From 2018 through 2021, Susan focused her attention on improving the quality and quantity of reporting on climate change in the media. She was a leader of the National Science Foundation-sponsored project Climate Matters in the Newsroom, which provides training and localized climate reporting resources to journalists. She also led the development of an online training platform, the Climate Reporting Master Class. Susan also spearheaded Quick Facts for Any Story, a set of fact sheets for reporters on the links between climate change and various types of extreme weather as well as other topics in the news and their relationship to climate change.
Susan is quoted often in the media on topics relevant to communicating about climate change, including in the New York Times, CNN, and Columbia Journalism Review. Susan has discussed climate change on many national radio and television shows including ABC’s 20/20, and Frontline and NOW on PBS. In September 2021, Susan appeared on the Today show on NBC, and in July 2021 she appeared on MSNBC and GBH discussing the links between extreme weather events and climate change. Susan has addressed influential groups including the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2007), the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (2004), and the Sundance Summit of Mayors for Climate Protection (2006 and 2007).
Susan wrote HBO’s global warming documentary, Too Hot Not To Handle, which premiered in April 2006. The film shows Americans experiencing climate change impacts and includes leading scientists explaining these changes. The second half of the film is devoted to solutions available now to address the climate challenge.
Susan was lead author of Impacts of A Warming Arctic, the synthesis report of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, published in 2004, on which she worked for four years with 300 scientists from the Arctic and beyond. She testified about the impacts of Arctic warming before the U.S. Senate in November 2004.
Susan is also interested in solutions to climate change. She co-authored a chapter on energy efficiency in a book titled Innovative Energy Strategies for CO2 Stabilization, published by Cambridge University Press in 2002. She wrote a feature article titled “A Change of Climate” in Issues in Science and Technology (a Journal of the National Academy of Sciences, Spring 2003) focusing on the actions of U.S. states, cities, and corporations in reducing climate change.
Susan has been involved in environmental research and education since the 1980s. Susan led hands-on workshops designed to help people save energy in their homes. She wrote a series of Home Energy Briefs and a series of handbooks about how people can reduce their negative impacts on the environment.
At the Aspen Global Change Institute, Susan synthesized the content of interdisciplinary science meetings on a wide variety of global change topics and edited a series of five annual books titled Elements of Change, 1994-1998. She also helped develop educational materials including the Ground Truth Studies Teacher Handbook, designed for K-12 educators teaching global change.
Susan Hassol Tweets @ClimateComms