We are delighted to announce that Matthew Huber has just taken over as Editor in Chief of Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology. We asked him some questions about his own research interests and his vision for the journal.
What are your own areas of scientific interest?
I love to think about the interplay between climate and life, so I study the dynamics of past climates and their paleobiological linkages, with an eye toward projecting into the future. Specifically, I study the ocean-atmosphere dynamics and radiative interactions that together govern the equator-to-pole temperature gradient, how these change as global average temperature rises, and the interactions between quantities and the biosphere.
During my student days, from being a geophysics undergraduate at the University of Chicago, to a Masters student at University of California, Los Angeles in atmospheric science, and then PhD student in Earth Sciences at University of California Santa Cruz, I learned to apply the tools of theoretical climate dynamics to understanding massive changes in temperature gradient revealed by data from Earth’s past, in order to develop more robust theories and models.
During those years I did not seriously think that the climate changes caused by humans would be of sufficient scale to rival the major disruptions in the paleoclimate record. Now I know better. The magnitude of change we are causing is truly ‘geological’ in magnitude, and the rapidity with which it is happening is nearly unprecedented. This means what was a purely theoretical or historical scientific endeavor—to me and many others in the field—has taken on a new sense of urgency and relevance. With this relevance comes some new responsibilities for the field: we must endeavor to generate more accurate information, with better characterized uncertainties, and to go beyond speculations to develop more rigorous and falsifiable theories.
What does it mean to you to serve as Editor in Chief of Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology?
Being Editor in Chief of Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology is a huge honor and responsibility. From its founding by the inimitable giant Jim Kennett all the way to the two most recent, amazing editors, Ellen Thomas and Stephen Barker, the journal has maintained high quality and impact while the field itself has broadened, deepened, and matured. I want to keep the unique ‘voice’ of the field that speaks through this journal and help make it louder and clearer. I want the voice of the past to roar so loud that the future cannot help but hear it.
How do you plan to take the journal forward in the coming years?
My first job is simple: Don’t screw it up! Honestly that will be my goal for the first year. Maintain the journal’s key strengths and high standards.
I’m very happy to announce that Ulla Rohl has agreed to be Editor of the journal as well, and I am so happy to have such an experienced and accomplished sea-going paleoceanographer sharing the helm.
Second, I want to enhance the diversity of voices heard throughout all steps of the journal process from submission, review, editing, publication and dissemination. That includes and is not limited to gender, country of origin, discipline, and subject matter. We are looking closely at metrics currently and refreshing the pool of Associate Editors and reviewers to better reflect the diversity of the field. My aim is to bring on a third Editor to help round-out the background and expertise at the editorial level as well. I hope in a year or so to be able to announce progress on making Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology more inclusive.
The third major task I see—and it is shared across all AGU journals—is the fundamental alignment toward FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data practices. This is not just a procedural issue of submitting a spreadsheet when a paper is submitted, although it is that too. To be truly FAIR means rethinking what a journal is in a digital, online, machine-readable age.
We need to adopt practices more common in other fields including community curated repositories and community governed data standards, thorough and pervasive citation of underlying datasets, meta-analyses and syntheses, and containerized publication of all data and code necessary to reproduce an entire analysis. This will require a community-wide adjustment of practices, but given the long history of sample and data sharing as exemplified by the decades of success of scientific ocean drilling, I think this community is well-posed to emerge of leaders in FAIR practice within the geosciences. I am committed to placing Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology at the forefront of AGU journals as an agent of change in the area of FAIR data, which I believe will ultimately result in more diverse, inclusive, sound and impactful science.