Science to Action at AGU Fall Meeting






What is Science to Action at AGU all about?

Word Cloud of Science to Action Submissions

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting is the largest Earth and space science gathering in the world, with approximately 24,000 attendees annually. This year, it will be in Washington, D.C. on December 10-14, 2018. Within this meeting, a group of members are planning a collection of sessions, workshops, networking events that are about how we connect science with action through partnering with communities and working with decision makers. Our goal is to help communities thrive by increasing science engagement to improve daily life and better confront concerns posed by extreme events, climate and land cover change, and natural hazards. Read more about this growing community and email for an introduction.

This meeting within a meeting allows one to connect with a community of people working on building bridges between science and society and also to participate in everything that AGU Fall Meeting has to offer. If you’ve never been before, this year is the year! The meeting is in Washington, D.C. – a perfect place to connect science to decision making.

Click here for review Science to Action activities from previous years.


Upcoming Deadlines:



Thriving Earth Exchange Events

Please use this Google Form to RSVP to the following events. Walk-ins are always, welcome!


Community Science 101: Practical Tips and Real-World Strategies for Engaging with Communities

(RSVP here)

Community science has the power to transform your science into an impactful force for good!  Join Thriving Earth Exchange staff for this workshop to learn and practice the skills needed to build effective relationships with communities to address critical local needs in climate change, natural hazards and natural resources. Early career scientists and graduate students are encouraged to attend.

Tuesday, 11 December: 10:00 – 12:00 p.m.
Congressional A, Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel

Thursday, 13 December: 10:00 – 12:00 p.m.
Congressional A, Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel

Celebrating Community Science with Thriving Earth Exchange

(RSVP here)

From a grand challenge to a highly successful AGU Centennial program, Thriving Earth Exchange will have 100 community science projects completed by 2019. Join TEX for a special annual reception celebrating our community leaders, scientists, and all those working to increase access and equity in science.

This year’s reception will feature 3-minute pop-up style talks from community leaders and scientists. Stories will share the inspiration, actions, and outcomes of community science collaborations through personal narrative. Attendees can expect engaging tales of community and science, and the opportunity to meet and engage with like-minded individuals and potential new partners.

All are welcome. Prepare to be inspired.

Tuesday, 11 December: 6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Busboys & Poets, 1025 5th St NW, Washington, DC

Interested scientists, community leaders, and boundary spanners are invited to apply to share their stories by 30 September. Click here for more information.

Thriving Earth Exchange Project Launch Workshop

(RSVP here)

This workshop will help scientists and community leaders develop collaborative, locally impactful projects together. TEX connects Earth and space scientists to communities around the world working toward solutions related to climate change, natural hazards, and natural resources. Lunch will be provided.

Wednesday, 12 December: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Congressional A, Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel

Interested community leaders are invited to express their interest in participating and developing project descriptions with AGU scientists by 30 September. Click here for more information.

Advancing Equity Through Community Science

(RSVP here)

This workshop will help scientists interested in learning the necessary skills for successfully participating in collaborative, locally impactful community science projects with environmental justice groups. Learn about how to develop cultural awareness, humility and competence and examine real-life scenarios. Scientists interested in working with environmental justice communities, early career scientists and graduate students are encouraged to attend.

Thursday, 13 December: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Congressional A, Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel

Community Science Clinic

(RSVP here)

Engaged in a community science collaboration and feeling stuck? Looking to get started? Want to learn more about it? Meet with the Thriving Earth Exchange team one-on-one to dig into your specific challenges and questions in this hands-on clinic. Walk away with new strategies to employ community science practices and ways of framing your work to ensure maximum success.

Monday, 10 December: 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Geranium, Marriott Marquis

Tuesday, 11 December: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Geranium, Marriott Marquis

Friday, 14, December: 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.
Geranium, Marriott Marquis


Science to Action in the Scientific Program

For those new to Fall Meeting, each session may be a little different, but generally, each session has a 2-hour block of 10-15 minute presentations and a poster session. Anyone who submitted an abstract to a session will receive information about the format of your presentation (poster vs. oral presentation) and the its time and date this Fall. More about abstract submissions is available here.

Click the session title below to be redirected to its abstract submission page.


Boundary organizations working on transdisciplinary user-inspired research develop and implement multiple forms of informal and formal education. First, they develop formal and informal participatory pedagogical approaches for training the next generation of transdisciplinary researchers, often by immersion in co-production or similar collaborative processes, but also via curriculum. Second, either at the project level or the boundary organization level, they practice translational science with decision makers who need climate information, and often educate partners and participants in the process. What are effective ways to staff boundary organizations in order to achieve these and other educational efforts? What are effective strategies for matriculating and retaining talented students in boundary work? We invite contributions that create a better understanding about the workforce needed for transdisciplinary science, that highlight the educational dimensions of coproduction work through examples from successful projects, and that illustrate opportunities for informal learning with different stakeholders and publics.

From extreme weather events to emerging diseases, communities are facing a growing number of climate-related health risks. Health departments and local officials are increasingly motivated to build resilience by better understanding, preparing for, and mitigating the effects of climate change in their communities, which often requires effective communication and collaboration with researcher partners in geosciences, civil engineering, ecology, health sciences and other allied disciplines. This session aims to promote discussion of the wide variety of approaches and programs that have been developed by multi-disciplinary and cross-sector partnerships to enhance community resilience and equitably mitigate climate risks. The session will share lessons learned from researchers across disciplines and practitioners (particularly in public health, emergency management, or city planning) on what made the partnership or program successful, while addressing any barriers/challenges. Submissions from partnerships working in resilient infrastructure (built environment), hazard prediction and mitigation planning, and public health preparedness are encouraged.

Increasingly, scientists and practitioners work in partnership to understand and respond to climate variability and change. These experiences demonstrate the importance of factors such as iterative interaction and personal relationships that build trust for increasing the use of science and its societal benefit. While instructive, these experiences are often project-based, include the involvement of only high capacity practitioners, and rarely expand beyond single case settings. This makes it difficult to know how to create, scale, and sustain efforts that would be able to meet accelerating decision-support needs. This session invites anyone working across the spectrum of research to implementation to report on network-based or collaborative initiatives that employ principles of co-production to support decision-making at region-wide or sector-wide scales. Contributors will present innovative models for climate service delivery, experiences with virtual participation, assessment networks and network-of-networks, and other advancements that demonstrate creative, scalable, and sustainable solutions.

Modern Earth science contributes to a multitude of societal challenges. While science conducts successful communication strategies to some parts of society, it can be observed, that effective science communication with indigenous communities is missing. Often, science communication with native and indigenous people is characterized by misunderstandings, misconceptions and an ominous tension, that might be rooted in science colonialism. We aim to start a dialogue within the Earth science community about the interaction of indigenous knowledge systems with modern conceptualization of research. Therefore, we invite presentations that show examples of effective decolonized science communication and how unintentional conflict between scientists and native communities were resolved. We also encourage Earth scientists to present examples of interactions with local knowledge systems and how indigenous knowledge has driven purposeful investigations and provided a foundation for effective science communication. Finally, we would like to address the issue of socio-cultural boundary conditions for science communication.

Perspectives of indigenous peoples can bring deep insight to the study and management of complex environmental systems through their holistic approaches to problem solving and ways of knowing. These perspectives can inform and enrich western scientific research and discussions of policy in areas related to sustainability, human-environment interactions, ecosystems, climate adaptation, geohealth, and more. Although western science started to acknowledge the importance of indigenous knowledge, voices of indigenous peoples are largely absent from scholarly discourse. With this in mind, we welcome submissions focusing on indigenous voices and perspectives in environmental sciences and policy emphasizing meaningful collaborations between western scientists and indigenous communities, or on indigenous scholars’ experiences walking in both worlds. Submissions may be case studies, syntheses, or other scholarship focusing on one or more indigenous tribe, group, or organization. We also welcome perspectives discussing relevant issues surrounding community based participation, ethics, mutual understanding, and respect for sacred knowledge.

Pressure is increasing to implement mitigation and adaptation measures to manage climate risk. “Practitioners” at state and local levels are moving forward and looking for authoritative data, tools, and methods; they are also forming networks to share experiences and identify good practices. This session will explore how practitioners and researchers from across the country are co-producing knowledge, tools, and strategies to support incorporation of climate risk in areas such as bond rating and financial analysis; designing climate-ready infrastructure (transportation, housing, communications, etc.); assessing inland flooding; reducing wildfire risk; and many other areas. It will also consider how the sustained national climate assessment could incorporate assessments of these applications of climate science (broadly defined). Papers will explore re-occurring “use cases” for applied climate science, assessment of rigor and effectiveness, an increased role for civil society organizations and state/local/tribal governments, and the role of a new civil society Climate Assessment Consortium.

Are our climate science-based decision tools reaching people, and are they having an impact? Scientists are working with stakeholders to develop resources that support and inform decision-makers preparing for the impacts of climate change, and are increasingly doing a better job of ensuring their products are useful and usable. However, end users still routinely report that the decision support landscape is overcrowded and confusing. Communities also face capacity, funding and communication barriers that further inhibit their use of science-based resources. This session will explore attempts to bridge the divide between decision-makers and scientific information, and invite discussion of both successes and challenges in facilitating connections between them. We will explore critical questions like: who has access to our science-based decision tools, how useful are they, and how do we better evaluate them going forward? Experiences from any scientific field across the AGU community that have addressed similar questions are welcome.

Interdisciplinary research (or integration across fields) is necessary to both understand human and natural systems feedback and translate basic science into decision-making. Emergence of community science, translational research, and socio-hydrology all indicate the growing interest of geophysical scientists in this arena. These interdisciplinary approaches are motivated by numerous goals including sustainability, resilience, and adaptive mitigation. The resulting applications are broad, ranging from atmospheric science and water resources management to the prediction and mitigation of natural hazards, and incorporate both quantitative and qualitative approaches. While best practice conversations within these communities are growing, there is a great benefit to sharing insights across research communities. This session seeks presenters that can share lessons learned from both successes and failures in designing and implementing interdisciplinary research projects to bridge these gaps.

These are trying times for both scientists and local communities: dwindling financial resources, institutional barriers, and spatio-temporal constraints. Despite these roadblocks, scientists persevere to engage and collaborate with decision makers and communities to ensure science that is actionable, applicable, and usable. In this session, we explore (1) how scientists build and strengthen partnerships within and outside the research community, and (2) how these novel and truly collaborative partnerships lead to decision-relevant tools, resources, or knowledge. We invite on-the-ground stories and experiences, successes and challenges, and best practices that illustrate both increased collaborative capacity and the successful co-production of actionable science. Through this collective sharing, we can harness characteristics of effective and transformative partnerships to better understand community needs and deliver robust, science-based, and decision-relevant products and applications to our stakeholders.

Scientific data have the power to inform, improve and transform decision making in a variety of fields. Many decision makers recognize the value of data-driven decision support, but find it challenging to infuse those data operationally. Frequently, those making decisions lack the scientific and technical resources to access, process or analyze data that can provide actionable information.
This session will discuss how to enable data-driven decision making. How do we ensure decision makers have access to the relevant data? How can silos between data producers, scientists and decision makers be broken down? What are the best ways to uncover decision makers’ needs and priorities, then translate them into needs-driven applications that underpin science-based, data-driven decision and policy making? And how should scientists define and convey scientific uncertainty to decision and policy makers? Speakers will share their success stories, the challenges faced and lessons learned.

From land use planning to hazard mitigation, community science refers to collaborations among scientists, science educators, decision makers and community members to solve problems. Community science often includes education, to enhance community understanding, build scientific capacity within the community and to develop a scientific workforce that can serve communities. Community science also provides opportunities to bridge gaps between historically underserved and underrepresented communities and science that may result in broader participation in and use of geoscience. This session will showcase examples of AGU members engaged in successful educational collaborations for community problem solving, including service learning, undergraduate research projects, informal education for communities, youth-citizen science, cross-cultural education, preparation for scientists to engage in community science and more.

Responding to challenges posed by rapid environmental change is at the forefront of natural resource management. Managers, decision-makers, and stakeholders are grappling with integrating science into decision-making in the context of wicked social and environmental issues. Although ecologists have a history of generating research relevant to environmental decision-making, ecologists have been slower to embrace intentional partnerships with decision-makers, as equals in co-producing science and policy. Ecologists are now making strides toward the intentional production of actionable science, specifically designed for decision-makers, through the process of translational ecology (TE). The approach extends beyond theory or opportunistic applications of research findings, seeking outcomes that serve managers and decision-makers—thereby distinguishing TE from applied ecology. It differs from strict models of knowledge co-production, acknowledging that scientist-stakeholder interactions occur along a spectrum of engagement intensities and applications. We invite presenters to share results on TE practice, evaluation techniques, and insight for overcoming challenges.

Much earth and environmental science focused on socially relevant issues like climate change, environmental health, and natural hazards is intended to both advance knowledge and benefit society. Collaborative research with non-academic partners is critical for connecting science to action, yet traditional models of research funding, academic incentives, and graduate training have often created barriers to these collaborations. Despite these barriers, non-academic partners working with researchers routinely innovate at the interface between decision making and science. This session explores frontiers in co-production, which we define as partnerships to design, conduct, and apply research to real-world problems. The goals of this session are to: 1) provide examples of novel approaches for connecting science to action, 2) cultivate connections across communities in AGU working to connect science with societal needs, and 3) highlight the state of the art for processes being used to fund, carry out, and evaluate actionable science.

In 2017, an unprecedented string of atmospheric rivers yielded record precipitation totals and widespread flooding in California, and Hurricane Harvey dropped record-smashing amounts of rain on Houston and much of southeastern Texas. These events caused potentially lethal dam-safety emergencies, major evacuations, and damages to infrastructure and the environment. Agencies responding to these events, and especially responding to forecasts of these events, faced the question that motivates current climate attribution studies: what was the mix of natural variability vs climate-change trends in these events? A better understanding of the extent to which such events already reflect climate change is crucial to climate-change adaptation plans, but also increasingly to flood managers confronted by real-world forecasts of these extremes. We seek submissions from water and emergency managers, engineers, and scientists who confronted those events, and other hydrologic extremes, to discuss where and how climate-attribution studies can be focused to improve management outcomes.

Researchers estimate 41 million US citizens are at risk from flooding, and by 2050 more than 60 million may be vulnerable to devastating 1% annual floods. Flood disasters generated by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017 generated approximately $265 million in damages, 198 deaths, and over 70,000 people displaced. In the wake of these recent disasters, this session encourages critical reflection on how scientists and engineers engage with residents to communicate the science of flooding, including hydrologic, socio-economic, and ecological dimensions. Central to this engagement is developing a level of scientific literacy that allows residents to interact with local government and federal agencies to shape and act on flood mitigation polices and practices. Submissions that present strategies, tools, or case studies of collaborative projects in which scientists have worked with residents to advance local priorities, conduct risk evaluations, or identify sustainable solutions to historical and future flooding are encouraged.

Decisions that are made when designing and constructing infrastructure have long-term ramifications for community resilience. From buildings made to withstand high winds to culverts that can accommodate large storm surges, engineering design decisions that are informed by best-available scientific information can improve community safety. However, scientific understanding about hazard risk, building materials, and other design parameters may be difficult to synthesize and translate to engineering, policy, and other audiences. Therefore, stakeholders who are responsible for interpreting and making infrastructure investment decisions may be doing so with limited or outdated information. In this session, we are interested in convening a discussion between scientists and engineers to better understand the challenges and opportunities for integrating research advancements into resilient infrastructure design. Best practices can be learned by identifying examples where standards organizations, communities, and private and public sector entities have successfully translated scientific information to make effective infrastructure design decisions.

The scientific community is increasingly interested in and under growing pressure to use research for the benefit of society. We are employing novel approaches that involve stakeholders in research. The linear model of specialist scientists operating separate from society is being augmented by collaborative approaches that connect research to actions. However, the metrics we use to measure the value and impact of research do not account for societal benefit. We are left with some fundamental questions: What aspects of the research process and its results are of value for science and for society? How do we incentivize, measure, and reward societal impact?
This session will explore metrics for measuring the societal value and impact of transdisciplinary research efforts. We invite papers that discuss examples of broader metrics, and processes through which we can value the impact of transdisciplinary research and collaborative engagement on society as well as science.

Science and social justice are inextricably linked. Science can advance social justice; community science knowledge supports participation in civic processes and is critical for improving and maintaining quality of life. Evidence-based public safeguards are vital to protecting the health, safety, and well-being of all communities and individuals. Science needs to be guided by social justice – when it is hasn’t been, scientific evidence has been used to justify oppressive actions and disempower people. Finally, science is enriched by social justice and the ethical frame and diverse viewpoints it brings. This session will explore examples of scientists working with and within the most impacted communities, learning with those communities, and contributing their scientific expertise to social justice issues. The symposium will also share effective context-dependent practices for respectful, mutually beneficial partnerships and approaches for scientists looking to learn from and partner with social justice efforts.

Cities and local municipalities around the world are leading the way in developing and implementing strategies to adapt to a ‘2-degree world’. The geoscience community has made tremendous strides in data collection and modeling to better understand our climate system, and we are beginning to offer usable information that can help guide the local adaptation decisions by citizens, local governments, or companies. We invite research or case studies aiming to systematically integrate geoscience data into adaptation or sustainability decision-making; either through creating pathways and partnerships, through providing data at decision-relevant scales, or through innovative methods of calculating and communicating climate change risks. We especially invite projects using a design-thinking approach; that have taken a plunge into user-needs and developed tools to support real-world decisions through an iterative and collaborative process, or projects in which stake-holder collaboration has guided the development of new geoscience data products.


Student/Early Career Pop-Up Talks

Hydrology for Public Good: Best Practices and Lessons Learned from Community Engagement
Hydrology as a research field is inherently linked to solving real world problems in water resources management. Even when addressing the most fundamental research questions, results are highly relevant to a wide variety of stakeholders. Yet, often hydrologic studies go unnoticed, even if studies are in a community’s own “backyard.” How does a hydrologist start and maintain connections to community members or organizations? What does the process look like? What are examples of successful hydrology engagement? This pop-up session of short (5-10 min) talks, in coordination with AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange and AGU’s Sharing Science Program, invites abstracts that outline best practices and lessons learned from doing hydrology for the public good.