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Science to Action at Fall Meeting 2020

The theme for #AGU20 is Shaping the Future of Science and will feature opportunities, discoveries and solutions that will shape future generations and society.

  • We envision a future where scientific discovery continues to be valued and celebrated for its role in advancing human knowledge.
  • We envision a future where knowledge of Earth and space sciences are used in collaboration with advances in natural, physical and social sciences, medicine and engineering.
  • We envision a future that will shape our science, culture and partnerships for the benefit and prosperity of people and the planet.

This year’s meeting will be held virtually (mostly) and in San Francisco, California (possibly) on December 7-11, 2020.

Visit the AGU Fall Meeting website for the latest information on meeting content and participation.

What is Science to Action at AGU all about?

Annually, a group of AGU members who organize themselves under the banner of Science to Action carry out a collection of sessions, workshops, and networking events that are about how we connect science with action through partnering with communities and working with decision makers. Another group, Native Science, hosts events that explore the connections between science and indigenous ways of knowing. All of us – Thriving Earth Exchange, Science to Action, and Native Science – share the goal of helping all 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. We share an evidence-based conviction that co-created science or community science is a good way to do this important work.

Email [email protected] for an introduction.

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


Science to Action in the Scientific Program

Abstracts will be accepted for the following sessions until 11:59pm E.T. on 29 July 2020. More info here.


AGU’s new strategic plan’s emphasizes our joint goals of advancing scientific discovery and using the results to address societal challenges. This need is consistent with recent global activation of younger generations toward projects that address racial/economic inequality and social justice. In this spirit, we invite contributions focusing on using our science in collaboration with decision makers, communities, and other stakeholders to benefit society. These could discuss approaches or examples of what we might do. We hope for discussion of what works, what doesn’t, how we can do better, and how these efforts could contribute to increasing diversity in our ranks.

Scientists, practitioners and communities have accelerated their engagement and collaboration to produce decision-relevant and actionable science. In this session, we explore (1) how scientists build and strengthen partnerships with community members and other stakeholders, 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 including federal, state, local, university, and extension partners, to name a few. Through this collective sharing, we can harness characteristics of effective and transformative partnerships to better understand community needs and deliver stakeholder-driven and decision-relevant science. Together, we continue progress toward interdisciplinary and transformative science that is actionable and equitable.

Accelerated by climate change, natural disasters can leave communities-built environments and social institutions with destructive and permanent disruptions. Advances have been made to bridge the knowledge gap between science and applications by defining and quantifying the risk and developing capabilities that visualize or communicate the implications on a community’s built environment and social institutions. However, many challenges remain on quantifying vulnerability and on establishing methods to translate vulnerability and risk to policy actions. Addressing these challenges requires joint efforts between communities, to understand how their social institutions would be affected by hazards, and scientists who can help inform decision-makers about built environment vulnerability. This session aims to highlight and invite presentations showcasing innovative analyses and decision science approaches mitigating the impacts of climate-driven events or long-time horizon hazards on the built environment, consequences on social and economic fabrics; and the role played by community leaders in mitigation and restoration processes.

Water plays a vital role in sustaining and regulating the health of ecosystems and societies. Natural variability and human driven alterations to the hydrologic cycle (i.e. water quantity) drive complex dynamics within human-hydrologic systems and pose challenges to understanding and managing the resource. Additionally, water science that informs management and leads to community action can be illusive. To find scientifically sound, ethical, culturally appropriate, socially compelling, and economically viable water related solutions, we need convergence of scientific research across disciplines as well as a better understanding of and responsiveness to the values, needs and priorities of decision makers, community members, and practitioners. This session welcomes research that addresses historic and emerging problems concerning water quantity or quality through transdisciplinary science. Presentations involving citizen science or community engaged research are encouraged, as are those that demonstrate convergence of methods or theory across fields.

Data can inform and transform global and local decision-making. In water management, a lack of useful data and context hampers our ability to understand water resources and decide how best to manage them. Managing water is increasingly difficult thanks to growing demand, population growth and climate change.
Today, water managers not only need more data that are useful, understandable and available long-term. They also need the right data with the right resolution, latency and format, that can easily plug into decision pipelines. Moreover, organizations must be open to ingesting new data.
This session explores data-driven water and watershed management. How can silos between data producers/scientists and decision-makers be broken down? How are decision-maker priorities uncovered, then translated into needs-driven science? How can water managers build their own capacity to use scientific data in decision-making?
Speakers will share successes, challenges and lessons learned. Talks at the water-energy-food nexus are welcome.

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 knowledges, 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, data governance, and respect for sacred knowledge.

Operating rules for most US reservoirs were developed and codified decades ago to reduce risks of dam failure, flooding, and other hazards, while providing for reservoir benefits. Historically, rules were developed so that they did not depend on (then almost nonexistent) skillful weather and inflow forecasts for those risk reductions. Consequently they do not explicitly incorporate much, if any, forecast information. With many recent major improvements in weather and flood forecasting, research and management studies are now evaluating the prospects for a new generation of forecast-informed reservoir operations (FIRO) to improve flood-risk management, water-supply reliability, and environmental/ societal benefits. This session seeks presentations on how FIRO moves from scientific and engineering possibility into decisionmaking and implementation, including (1) physical, hydroclimatic, economic, and legal conditions that affect FIRO’s efficacy, (2) regionally-applicable, decision-relevant criteria for triaging reservoir systems for FIRO viability, and (3) viability assessments and case studies for new FIRO applications.

The geosciences often strive to produce knowledge that will help solve pressing societal issues. Despite this motivation, this knowledge is not used in decisions as much as is expected. Understanding why knowledge is not used and identifying strategies to overcome these challenges, requires engagement across many disciplines and inclusion of the communities whose issues we would like to address, especially those that relate to social behavior and decision-making. This session welcomes talks that present social and behavioral findings that illuminate how to forge stronger linkages between science and society, and increase the beneficial use of geoscience knowledge. Insights from varied fields that provide helpful lessons for geoscientists is encouraged, including (but not limited to) anthropology, economics, history, political science, decision science, psychology, and sociology.

This session will share experiences in Community Science and Citizen Science. Community Science, using text from the Thriving Earth Exchange, is “the processes by which scientists and communities do science together to advance one or more community priorities. It encourages communities, particularly historically marginalized and oppressed communities, to guide, participate in, learn from, and benefit from science.” Citizen Science, similarly, engages the public to collaborate with scientists to assist in research and monitoring, from local to global investigations. We welcome examples from these growing fields of research that illustrate the importance, value and benefit, to both research and the public, of connecting science with society. We also welcome research about citizen and community science – things like learning outcomes, best-practices, and design strategies – particularly in the context of the geosciences.

Scientists communicate their science with broader communities through presentations, social media, events and activities, and many other creative outlets. This session seeks to explore the many ways in which scientists are sharing their science, the barriers they face, and the ways science communication can be better supported in the space and Earth sciences. We welcome presentations demonstrating the diversity of scientists’ activities to engage audiences as well as evidence of the impact of public presentations, activities, and events by educators, researchers, and practitioners. Insights on effective communication strategies, formal and informal education outreach activities, and use of social media to share your science are welcome.

Do you consider yourself a science communicator or science communication researcher? Does your research group or institution participate in public engagement activities? Have you ever evaluated, studied, or published your education, outreach or engagement efforts? Scientists and communication practitioners engage non-peer audiences through numerous pathways including websites, blogs, public lectures, media interviews, and educational and research collaborations. A considerable amount of time and money is invested in these activities and they play an important role in how different publics come to understand scientific topics, issues, and the research process. However, few opportunities and incentives exist to optimize science communication practices and to evaluate the effectiveness of different engagement approaches. This session, run at both AGU and EGU, encourages critical reflection on science communication best practices and provides an opportunity for the community of science communicators and researchers to share best practices and experiences with evaluation and research in this field.

There is growing demand for opportunities to build capacity to use and apply Earth observations (EO) and geospatial data for societal benefit. In response, the capacity building community is enabling individuals and institutions to build skills and capabilities through a variety of approaches across a range of scales – from local (e.g., in-person trainings and collaborative feasibility studies) to national (e.g., co-development projects with government ministries) to regional (e.g., regional hubs and capacity building networks) to global (e.g., massive open online courses – MOOCs, online webinars, and hackathons). Working at each scale requires consideration of target audience needs and priorities, appropriate formats, and methods for assessing effectiveness. This session will explore the differences between scales and facilitate a knowledge exchange between those working in the EO capacity building and international development realms. Contributors will present case studies that highlight their target audiences, implementation approach, assessment methods, challenges, and best practices.

Investors, infrastructure planners, and subnational entities aspire to make climate resilient investments. Presently, uncertainty in future projected climate and weather-related outcomes thwarts their efforts. Practical, scientifically sound guidance is needed to help investors and infrastructure planners make progress toward frameworks and practices that support resilient investments. For example, given a multiplicity of projected futures, should a subset of scenarios be prioritized to promote a more tractable decision-making landscape? How can scientists help convey—while avoiding constraining—uncertainty in projected outcomes? How can scientists contribute to communication of projected variability as well as uncertainty in manner that inspires, rather than overwhelms, efforts toward resilient decision-making? Beyond statistics, what alternative methods and philosophies, such as storylines, have been successful in enabling decision making in the midst of uncertainty? Share success stories of establishment of long-term relationships between scientists and stakeholders; or on production and communication of usable science data, informatics and tools.