An academic paper on global climate zones written by three Australians more than a decade ago has been named the most cited source on Wikipedia, having being referenced more than 2.8 million times.
However, the authors of the paper, who are still good friends, had no idea about the wider impact of their work until recently.
The paper, published in 2007 in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, used contemporary data to update a popular model for classifying the world’s climates.
Known as the Koppen Climate Classification System, the model was first published by climatologist Wladimir Koppen in 1884, but it had not been comprehensively updated for decades.
The lead author of the paper is Murray Peel, a senior lecturer in the department of infrastructure engineering at the University of Melbourne, and he coauthored the updated climate map with geography professor Brian Finlayson and engineering professor Thomas McMahon, both now retired.
“We are amazed, absolutely amazed at the number of citations,” Finlayson said from his home in Melbourne. “We are not so much amazed at the fact it’s been cited as we are about the number of people who have cited it.
“It’s pleasing that research you’ve done is something other people are finding useful,” he said.
The trio knew their paper had an impact in academic circles and in scientific literature, with the Koppen Climate Classification System used by researchers in a range of fields, including geology, sociology, public health and climatology.
However, Finlayson said they were unaware of the more widespread success until a journalist from Wired contacted them about the results of an analysis by Wikipedia of the top 10 sources by citation across every Wikipedia language.
All 10 were reference books or scientific articles.
The updated world map of the Koppen-Geiger climate classification had 2,830,341 citations, easily surpassing what came in at No. 2.
Finlayson said the popularity of the paper emphasized the importance of open science, which is the concept that data and findings should be openly and freely available so that others can use and benefit from them. Wikipedia operates on a similar concept and credible citations are crucial to the encyclopedia’s reliability.
“The journal we originally published the paper in is free and open access, and we chose the journal for that reason,” he said. “People noticed and said: ‘Hey, we have an updated climate map, we’ll use that,’ and then it spread.”
At the time, open access journals were rare.
“I have always been a supporter of open science,” Finlayson said. “Research is no good to anyone locked in a cupboard, or published in a journal you have to pay a lot of money to access.”
He said he first began working with McMahon in 1981, and that they got to know Murray, who is “a fair bit younger,” when he became one of their doctoral students.
“He did his PhD on global hydrology and kept working with us in that area over the years, and we are all still very good friends and kept publishing together,” said Finlayson, now 73. “We agree on most of the serious things and then every now and then we have differences of opinion. So we talk about it, and then we set out to test who is right, and write a paper on the results.
“If you want to form an academic group of people who work together well, the fact that they’re friends helps a lot. You’re not concerned about things like someone getting more kudos than you are,” he said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big