Climate Feedback

Nature launching Climate Change journal

Olive Heffernan

Regular readers of Climate Feedback will notice that it’s been a bit quiet as of late. That’s because of some major – and massively exciting – changes taking place behind the scenes. In short, Nature Publishing Group is launching a journal on climate change and I’ve been appointed as the Chief Editor.

The journal, Nature Climate Change, will launch in print in April of next year. That’s a while away yet, but launching a peer reviewed journal is a lengthy process, so already the wheels are beginning to turn to make that happen on schedule.

Over the next month, I’ll also be finishing up Nature Reports Climate Change, the web portal on climate science and society that I’ve been running for the past three years. Nature Reports Climate Change will come to an end in May once we close the next digital issue. The archived content will still be freely accessible, but I’ll be taking a break from commissioning content for a few months while I recruit a staff of editors, visit research institutes and prepare for the pre-launch phase of the journal, which will happen later this year.

Now, some of you may ask why we’re launching a climate research journal, given that there are several already out there. Essentially, Nature Climate Change will be a different beast from all established journals.

Nature Climate Change will publish original research across the physical and social sciences on a monthly basis and will strive to forge and synthesize interdisciplinary research. As such, it will be the first Nature branded journal to publish peer-review content from the social sciences community.

As with all Nature research journals, Nature Climate Change will have a staff of full time editors who will offer a quick turn around on submitted manuscripts. Nature Climate Change editors will aim to get an initial response to authors within 7 days. For a Nature research journal, if a paper goes out to peer review, the averge acceptance time is about 100 days and if a paper is accepted, the average time to publication is approximately 30 days. Nature Climate Change will aim to follow, and improve upon, that tradition.

The journal’s mission will be to unify the body of research on the understanding, and impacts, of climate change as well as to place it in a wider social and political context. In addition to the peer reviewed content, it will have a dynamic front half, taking forward the features, opinions, analysis and reviews that Nature Reports Climate Change has become known for over the past three years.

As Chief Editor of Nature Climate Change, I’ll continue my role as moderator of the Climate Feedback blog. Over the coming months, I’ll be blogging about how the launch is progressing, as well as continuing my usual posts on climate science, policy and such like.

I’ll say much more about all of this in due course, but I just wanted to give you, our readers, a heads up on the changes afoot.


  1. Report this comment

    Olive Heffernan said:

    For the most part, the articles will be behind a pay wall. We’ll blog about the content here on Climate Feedback though, as a way of keeping a wider audience in touch with what’s being published in the journal.

  2. Report this comment

    Mac said:

    Quote, Olive Heffernan, exactly one year ago, " Delegates at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change, held on March 10–12, 2009, heard a grim portrayal of the state of planet, with Arctic summer sea-ice being lost faster and sea-level rise expected to be more severe than anticipated just two years ago. "

    Nature Climate Change will be simply more of the same, and the same no longer cuts any ice with the general public.

  3. Report this comment

    wilbert Robichaud said:

    @MAC..think!! Why is it call “SUMMER” sea ice?

  4. Report this comment

    Mac said:

    I THUNKEDED wilbert, the web link is to note specifically the increases in summer sea ice from 2007 – that is a direct response to Olive’s quote.

    Now if you want to discuss the near normal levels of winter sea ice – then please do.

  5. Report this comment

    Dr Scott Campbell said:

    If you want to be taken seriously after Climategate you’ll have to do (at least) four things:

    (1) Require articles to submit all data and code along with the manuscript before you’ll even consider it.

    (2) Make it a condition of acceptance that all data and code will be published by you simultaneously on a website (in a suitable form with clear labelling, etc., so as to prevent underhand attempts at making the data as difficult as possible to interpret).

    (3) Regularly use qualified referees regardless of their views about AGW — in other words, regularly using referees who are neutral or sceptical about AGW.

    (4) With papers that rely heavily on statistics, use referees from outside climate science who are experts in statistics.

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    Confused said:

    Will you answer Bishop Hills comment ?

  7. Report this comment

    M. Flagg said:

    Great to see the cross-disciplinary approach!

    Perfect opportunity to do things right – good science, well-vetted data, GLP best practices implemented for computer codes, and a peer-reviewed forum allowing the science to do the talking.

    I assume the journal will take all the lessons-learned from the recent uproars over data and code availability and make everything transparent. Looking forward to a new era in climate studies and this journal could lead the way.

  8. Report this comment

    Olive Heffernan said:


    That’s an excellent question, and it’s one that we’re giving alot of thought to. We haven’t formed a concrete data policy for the journal yet, but we recognize that it’s an issue and we want to do everything we can to address it. We’re currently looking at technical solutions to providing data online, as well as our policy on data requirements for published manuscripts, not just in the area of climate change, but across the board.

    What would be really helpful in formulating our data policy for Nature Climate Chnage is input from the community on what people

    a)expect from the journal in terms of data transparency and

    b) think that scientists can realistically provide. All comments welcome.

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    Richard Drake said:


    Your questions have simple answers. The many of us that have been concerned about the Climategate revelations expect total transparency of data and source code in climate science. We believe that this is already not only realistic but now required, because of the importance of this area for all humankind, as the Commons Select Committee said yesterday.

    It’s a quirk of history that I sought to raise this issue on the evening of 17th November 2009 with one of the UK’s foremost advocates of such openness in other areas, Glyn Moody. I was interested because I knew Glyn to be a fervent advocate of the view that CO2 emission reduction was crucial for human survival. Yet Glyn at once agreed with me, as I expected, that all climate science data and code should be published. That was the day Climategate was breaking, though I had no idea of this at the time. Six days later Glyn offered this reflection on Climategate itself:

    I’ve steered clear of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) break-in since emotions are still running high, while information content remains low. But aside from the significance (or otherwise) of the emails, one thing is abundantly clear: if the climate data had been released from the beginning, this would really be a story of negligible interest to the wider world."

    Your journal has the opportunity to start on the right side of history on this vital issue.

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    geronimo said:


    Good luck with your new journal, I think Richard Drake has put the case for openness clearly. The other issue I’d like to address is editorial scientific neutrality. For a decade or more Nature, rightly or wrongly, has developed a reputation as a scientific magazine with a political stance on climate science, and frankly the editorial after climategate was ample evidence of this. Sceptical scientists claim they have consistently been denied publication of their papers. Indeed the climategate emails show clearly that the “insiders” in the climate community did all they could to block publication of contrarian papers. Nature and Science are the the world’s top science journals, they should not take a political view about what science they publish, the science should be published on its merits and I hope that the new jounal follows this honourabale tradition.

    I hope it goes well for you and the new journal.

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    Andrew said:

    Olive, nothing short of full and complete data transparency, methods and computer code should be accepted.

    If the scientists cannot realistically provide what is needed for reproduction of their work then they should not be published.

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    mikep said:

    There are journals in my field which do have a straightforward replication policy, following on from difficulties arising from the inability of others to reproduce published results. For example, Econometrica, one of the premier journals has a specific replication policy which begins

    “Econometrica has the policy that all empirical, experimental and simulation results must be replicable. Therefore, authors of accepted papers must submit data sets, programs, and information on empirical analysis, experiments and simulations that are needed for replication and some limited sensitivity analysis.”

    The full policy can be found here

    There does not seem anything very onerous for the journal about this. Of course, to be really effective journals also have to enforce the policy.

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