Environmental Defense Fund: Climate Science Fellow

Apply here. (Applications due Friday, January 13, 2017)

Non-U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for this position.

Website: www.edf.org

Location: Washington, DC

Fellowship Position

Position title: Climate Science Fellow

Department: Global Climate

Reports to: Climate Scientist, 

Address of fellowship placement: 1875 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

Department Description

With world attention focused on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. The twenty-five member Global Climate program works to promote ambitious, well-designed market-based climate policies around the world, including at the state and federal level in the United States; in the EU, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, and India; and in international forums including the United Nations climate talks and the International Civil Aviation Organization. The Global Climate program is also home to EDF’s climate science team, which conducts, assesses, and communicates the climate science underpinning EDF’s climate-related initiatives.

Position Description

The Climate Science Fellow will play an important role within EDF’s rapidly growing climate science team. Climate is the largest of EDF’s four focus areas, with approximately half of the organization engaged in climate-related initiatives, such as policy actions, legal positions, market-based solutions and communications. These climaterelated activities rely on sound science informed by robust, credible, and timely information. 

Due to the cross organizational demand for cutting edge climate science information, EDF would greatly benefit by augmenting the climate science team’s capability to enlarge its support of the entirety of EDF’s climate-related initiatives. The Climate Science Fellow will therefore be able to expand the internal and external reach and usefulness of climate information. The fellow will benefit from unique exposure to the frontlines of climate action, and learn how and why science fundamentally guides climate policy and decision-making.

Specifically, the main focus of the fellow will be to develop quantitative scientific information in support of EDF climate-related decision-making and communications. First, the fellow will conduct quantitative analyses of climate benefits from various short and long-lived climate pollutant mitigation strategies, by employing a reduced complexity global climate model driven by various emissions scenarios. For several years, staff across EDF have inquired about temperature responses to various mitigation actions – an undoubtedly useful, but difficult to calculate, metric. Until recently, EDF relied on rudimentary estimates of this metric. However, the climate science team has now identified credible and efficient modeling methods to address these questions more comprehensively, which are ripe for more detailed exploration. The fellow will be critical to capitalizing on this newfound capability, and will be responsible for performing climate simulations in response to myriad emissions pathways. Building this in-house modeling capability to analyze temperature responses to prospective mitigation actions is a big step forward in our scientific capabilities at EDF and will advance scientific support for important decisions. The fellow will benefit from exposure to cutting edge modeling tools. Additionally, the fellow will monitor daily, weekly, and monthly temperature and precipitation data – regionally, nationally, and globally – to provide useful real time information on a variety of weather and climate events. By conducting basic data analysis, the fellow will advance our climate communications capability (e.g., blog posts) through identification and quantification of pertinent weather and climate-related features, while honing the fellow’s technical and data analytics skills. 

Further, the fellow will help increase the efficiency of EDF’s climate change science communications by developing and maintaining a database of confirmed climate science factoids. Many EDF climate-related communications materials require at least a few key and compelling points about the causes and impacts of climate change. The status quo often leaves writers and presenters “reinventing the wheel” by searching the internet for interesting stats. However, over the years we have amassed a large collection of internally approved content. The fellow will be responsible for collecting and organizing these talking points into an easily navigable and sortable database, or “library,” such that EDF staff requiring climate change science information will not need to search for new material, but rather simply consult the database. This has the additional benefit of reducing vetting time via EDF scientists. The fellow will benefit from this experience by learning how to distill complex scientific information for non-expert audiences, while also learning how to achieve the delicate balance between scientific accuracy, compelling statements, and content simplicity.

Examples of specific responsibilities, projects, tasks, and/or duties of the Fellow include:

  • Perform modeling and data analysis to advance quantitative scientific information in support of policy decisions, legal positions, and communications.
  • Employ a reduced-complexity climate model to analyze temperature responses to various emissions scenarios, including business-as-usual and mitigation pathways.
  • Monitor daily, weekly, and monthly temperature and precipitation data to identify and report on extremes. 
  • Develop and maintain an internal climate science fact-driven database with the best available climate change causes and impacts information.
  • Provide high-quality climate science support to time-sensitive requests by EDF staff.


  • Training in at least one of the following: Environmental Sciences, Geosciences, Atmospheric Sciences, Oceanic Sciences.
  • Familiarity with basic data analysis
  • Computer programming knowledge preferred but not required.

Professional Development

EDF is the ideal place for young professionals interested in the nexus of climate science, policy, and communications, offering a unique insight into the frontlines of climate action. As part of EDF, the fellow will interact with scientists, attorneys, economists, policy experts, communications specialists, and more, all working towards achieving practical and long-lasting solutions to today’s most  pressing environmental challenges. The fellow will ultimately benefit from a vibrant workplace that embraces diverse backgrounds, perspectives, talents and contributions, and where innovation and results-driven outcomes are a way of life. As part of the Global Climate team, the fellow will be exposed to domestic and international climate policy, and especially market-based climate action strategies. As part of the climate science team, the fellow will remain at the cutting-edge of climate science while developing strong verbal and oral communication skills from sharing the science with diverse internal and external non-expert audiences. Further, the fellow will advance and broaden her/his technical skillset from the use of several analytical and modeling tools. Specific professional development opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Co-authoring papers for publication in peerreviewed journals
  • Writing reports/fact sheets/blog posts for general audiences on the topic of focus
  • Attending scientific conferences, workshops, seminars, and writing retreats
  • Participating in team meetings, including policyoriented discussions