Dr. Josefine Lenz Awarded For Science Communication On Permafrost

by Sabrina Heerema | Published: 27-Sep-22 | Last updated: 20-Sep-22 | Tags : Arctic communication permafrost research | category: NEWS

Dr. Josefine Lenz from the Alfred Wegener Institute – Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam has won the WISPoP - Potsdam Prize for Science Communication for the project "Permafrost in Transition". The 1500 euro prize was awarded by the proWissen Potsdam association and the Potsdam Research Network Foundation.

Dr. Josefine Lenz receiving the 2022 WISPoP prize for Science Communication © proWissen Potsdam e.V.

From left to right: Dr. Patrick Arnold (jury member), Dr. Josefine Lenz (WISPoP - winner 2022), Dr. Vera Schneider, Franz Ossing and Dr. Matthias Arlt (jury members), Dr. Katrin von Kap-herr and Tim Bosse (WISPoP - Audience Award Winner 2022) © proWissen Potsdam e.V.

Josefine leads the Permafrost in Transition project, an outreach project aiming to communicate permafrost and changes by a warmer climate to the public. The project has a mobile exhibition that brings the topic of the global sustainability crisis to a broad audience using the example of the thawing permafrost in the Arctic. With a variety of formats of science communication, the exhibition concept also makes it clear to the uneducated that anthropogenically generated climate change entails consequences that affect all areas of the Earth system – and ultimately also humans. 


The exhibition is characterized by various elements: The smell of a soil sample of permafrost and the feeling of the low temperature of this sample which appeal to the senses; while 3D printing models visualize how permafrost thawing changes the landscapes in the Arctic and thus also the living conditions there. Tools such as wobbly pictures in postcard format, virtual reality glasses and wooden laying games are used here. The project attaches great importance to imparting knowledge on perceptible climate changes to all age groups and across all levels of education. 

Upon accepting the award, Dr. Josefine Lenz stated "It is a great honor and pleasure that the topic of permafrost and especially our approach to making it understandable and accessible with all senses receives this great appreciation through the Potsdam Prize for Science Communication 2022! Developing the hands-on exhibits and graphics and engaging in lively communication with the target audience was a lot of fun. I would like to thank all those involved once again: The underlying research data and documentation, the creative exchange of ideas, the sometimes complex data preparation, the implementation of the participatory elements and finally the active exchange has only become so successful through the committed AWI staff. It's great to now see 3D tours and prints of permafrost landscapes, effective before-and-after wobble images, playing games to understand the proportions of the permafrost surface and carbon stores, specially-built experimental columns and boxes and finally real permafrost samples to touch, smell and feel in the hands of the interested public and to discuss the change of the Arctic. The next opportunity is not far away, on the Telegrafenberg at the Long Night of the Sciences". 


Dr. Josefine Lenz is leading Arctic PASSION’s work of connecting thePan-AOSS to society through communication, dissemination and engagement.