Why would hundreds of scientists from around the world freeze a ship in Arctic sea ice for an entire year, braving subzero temperatures and months of polar darkness? This may sound like a fictional adventure movie plot, but from September 2019 through October 2020, the MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) Arctic research expedition did just this. Currently, the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the global average (a phenomenon known as Arctic amplification) and due to a lack of observations, there is considerable uncertainty in climate models projecting the Arctic climate of the future. The MOSAiC expedition aims to better understand the changing Arctic climate system by gathering data from ground zero over a full seasonal cycle to augment satellite observation data. Using the expedition as an engagement hook, scientists and curriculum developers developed a high school earth science curriculum anchored by the phenomenon that climate scientists are actively trying to explain: Arctic amplification. The curriculum follows the model-based inquiry instructional framework where each lesson provides students with learning experiences (e.g., virtual reality tours of MOSAiC field sites, analyzing authentic Arctic satellite datasets) that relate back to the phenomena. Focusing on explaining natural phenomena provides an authentic context for students to learn and apply scientific understanding, which research shows can help engage students in NGSS scientific practices. Here we present an overview of the learning sequence using refinement of mental models throughout the unit and present preliminary results from pre-post assessments from two educator workshops (~100 teachers) that show that participants’ understanding of Earth’s climate system improved significantly after engaging with the curriculum. Based on these results, we expect this curriculum to be an important tool in engaging students in Earth’s systems thinking.
Scientific expeditions can be used to engage the public in science learning within an exciting and compelling context, giving insight into the often messy and serendipitous nature of science and the humanness of scientists. The 2019-2020 MOSAiC (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) research expedition allowed scientists from around the world to study all aspects of the Arctic climate system at ground zero for a full seasonal cycle. The German icebreaker Polarstern was intentionally frozen in Arctic sea ice and drifted almost continuously across the Arctic Ocean for a year. The Polarstern served as the central research observatory for MOSAiC, allowing scientists to study Arctic sea ice, atmospheric processes, and more. Here we present our U.S.-based MOSAiC expedition outreach efforts and the role of MOSAiC scientists in them. By harnessing the public’s fascination with the Arctic and the excitement of the expedition, coordinated MOSAiC communication, outreach, and education efforts promoted a broad understanding of the changing Arctic and the societal implications of these changes, hopefully inspiring a future generation of potential scientists. Many MOSAiC scientists were directly engaged in MOSAiC outreach efforts with students, teachers, and the public, and outreach materials were developed that could be accessed and distributed virtually. The expedition was brought to life for learners of all ages by providing them with immersive experiences like VR Google Expeditions and 360-degree videos from the field, opportunities to connect directly with scientists through video calls and an #askmosaic question submission campaign, and insight into what day-to-day life on an icebreaker in the remote Arctic is like. Our outreach efforts helped us better understand the importance of providing scientists with diverse outreach opportunities that are fulfilling to them and the power in using scientific expeditions to engage the public.
During recent droughts in North Carolina, various audiences have articulated needs for information that explains current or anticipated impacts, droughts’ geographic extent and timing, and how the State monitors drought. This is despite there being a regular process in place to evaluate statewide conditions and seemingly abundant information available through federal, state, and local agency websites; media outlets; and other channels. This presentation provides findings from a research project designed to improve the availability, understandability, and usability of drought communications products for North Carolina audiences, focusing on the US Drought Monitor map of North Carolina as an example. The North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council (DMAC) technical committee has met weekly to assess drought conditions since the 1990s and has recommended the state’s drought designations to the US Drought Monitor since 2000. The DMAC recommendations typically align with the weekly USDM map. Through surveys, focus groups, usability studies, and other engagement methods, we collected information from groups such as extension agents and water utility staff about 1) their communications preferences - resources that are concise, easily readable, and readily shareable through email, listservs, and social media - and 2) infographic prototypes created to address those preferences. User feedback on the prototypes informed iterative refinements to their content and design and provided information about their potential use for communications and management decisions. Ultimately, understanding the monitoring process and how drought designations are made was a key factor affecting the extent to which extension and other communication professionals apply, share, and value the information produced by monitoring groups and scientific agencies. This research suggests that addressing transparency questions can support efforts to communicate complex problems, such as drought.
Earth observation (EO) and geographic information technology (GIT) offer a wide range of data and tools to aid in data management, research, decision-making, and tracking, as well as the ability to test and assess options by providing high-resolution and spatially explicit information in both temporal and spatial domains. However, capacity and gender gap at individual and institutional levels in the HKH region has limited the adoption and operational use of EO data and GIT in various applications as was evident by SERVIR phase I and phase II analysis. In this regard, as part of our capacity-building processes in the HKH region, we held a series of “Empowering women in GIT” events in 2021 to promote and support young women to become aware of and pursue careers in EO and GIT. Virtual trainings were delivered to the young women of five countries i.e. Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh of the HKH region building the capacity of ~235 individuals from ~166 institutes accommodating many professionals from the academic institutes as well. The trainings were given on various aspects of EO and GIT from basic to advanced level including the use of open-source EO data and tools for terrestrial applications along with a focus on the SERVIR services, and applications on drought monitoring, forest cover analysis, HiWAT streamflow prediction, stream water delineation etc. Analysis from the training assessment showed an enhancement (>50%) in the knowledge and skills from low to higher levels. The effectiveness of the training judged by relevancy and quality surveys demonstrated that the trainings were of significant high quality, with >85 percent of the participants responding positively. Our efforts to close the gender gap in EO and GIT had a positive outcome, with most participants expressing confidence in using the information in their respective professional domains and research areas. Academic institutions have been the key in spreading knowledge on EO and GIT, thus, building the capacity of academic professionals would help in the foundation of institutional and individual capacity to transfer knowledge. Focused capacity development can contribute to bridge the gender and capacity gap, and underpin the achievement of best practices and innovations that might guide towards better adoption of EOand GIT in the HKH region.
The UCLA Planetarium hosts star shows and lectures on various astronomy topics, educating UCLA and the broader Los Angeles community about science and the wonders of the night sky. It serves over 4000 people per year, as UCLA Astronomy’s largest outreach effort. We host private shows for visiting school groups (30% of our attendees), shows for UCLA astronomy courses (20%), and weekly public shows for the community at large (50%). Our planetarium and its events are run exclusively by graduate students, who also maintain its historic projectors and dome. In the near future, we plan to improve and expand our outreach efforts in two specific ways. Our outreach efforts are free for educational groups, but we currently do not provide travel support for visiting schools. We plan to actively reach out to school groups from underserved communities and hope to raise funds to cover these schools’ field trip and travel expenses. We also plan to improve our science communication effectiveness, with strategies for improving volunteer recruitment, training volunteers on effective public speaking skills, and improving the quality of our existing repository of presentations. Of course, these in person events are on hold due to the ongoing pandemic; in the meantime, we are developing ways to serve our audience virtually. We recently hosted our first “virtual” planetarium show on YouTube Live, with over 1,700 viewers on the livestream and over 7,300 total viewers. We welcome any suggestions or ideas to help us improve our planetarium outreach efforts!
Practitioners and researchers in geoscience education embrace ICON (Integrated, Coordinated, Open science, and Networked) principles and have a history of using them to create and share educational resources, to move forward collective priorities, and to learn from one another. Geoscience education brings substantial expertise in social science research and its application to building individual and collective capacity. This can be used to support ICON processes and improve the coproduction of knowledge between geoscientists and diverse communities. Geoscience is an important part of the knowledge needed to advance equity at local to global scales. The geoscience education community has expanded its own ICON capacity through access to and use of shared resources and research findings, enhancing data sharing and publication, and leadership development. We prioritize continued use of ICON principles to develop effective and inclusive communities that increase equity in geoscience education and beyond, that support leadership and full participation of systemically non-dominant groups, and that enable global discussions and collaborations.
It is difficult to teach for both understanding and application, and the climate crisis highlights this in profound ways. Even those who understand the extreme threats posed by anthropogenic climate change have been largely at a loss for how to generate a response to such threats at scale. What drives people, organizations and governments to actually act in the face of crisis? In at least several historical examples, the impetus for action includes being astounded and scared while also having reason for hope and the ability to display courage. These steps are infused with building visceral understanding of the problems’ magnitude. Examples that follow this pattern include US involvement in World War II, the Apollo Program, and the civil rights movement. “Where Does Gasoline Go?” and “Fire & Brimstone & Fort McMurray” are presentations that, when brought together apply this framework to climate change communication. Americans burn 391 million gallons of gasoline per day, each containing 5.5 pounds of carbon. To sequester that carbon by tree-planting requires the equivalent of growing a 2x4 for each gallon. If the US were to offset current emissions from gasoline (roughly a quarter of total US emissions) by planting trees, we’d need to grow 4.3 billion pounds of wood every day - more than 1.5 trillion pounds/year. When you fill your tank, count 2x4s as the gallons roll by, and mentally scale this up to every driver in the country. If one understands both scale and the basics of climate change, this is both astonishing and terrifying. We have faced terrifying situations before and we have emerged from them. Indeed, throughout human history, we have always lived in times characterized by the wonderful and horrible simultaneously. We have also always made apocalyptic prophecies that, at least at the global scale, have not come to pass. For the credible ones, people eventually acted and were able to meet the challenges (though sometimes at horrific costs). Recognizing that we have always been wrong in predicting global apocalypses and that when the situation becomes dire (as it is doing now) we have taken effective action is reason for hope. The process described here, through the story of a gallon of gasoline, couples clear science with powerful emotion. It closes with hope. And, it offers tools and a broader approach that can be widely replicated.
Water scarcity, population growth and climate change dilemmas imperatively require adaption strategies for a more efficient and sustainable use of water resources. Agricultural systems are part of a wider network, where all social, economic and, ecologic parameters must be taken into consideration to assess the performance and resilience of said network. The importance of accounting the complexity of human decisions and their impact on the water cycle has been increasingly studied, nevertheless the integration and analysis of different decision making theories into hydrological models still remains a major challenge and uncertainty source. Therefore, the ongoing project is aimed to improve the understanding of social dynamics in agrohydrological networks by assessing different irrigation practices including rainfed agriculture and deficit irrigation within a hydro-economic network. We developed an agent-based model (ABM) of farmer decision making on crop water productivity and groundwater levels using two existing optimization models: (i) the Assessment, Prognosis, Planning and Management Tool (APPM) (Schmitz, et al. 2010) that integrates the complex interactions of the strongly nonlinear meteorological, hydrological and agricultural phenomena, considering the socio-economic aspects and (ii) the Deficit Irrigation Toolbox (DIT) (Schütze and Mialyk 2019) to maximize crop-water productivity by analyzing the crop yield response to climate change, soil variability, water management practices. The developed ABM was assessed with the different theories on human decision-making based on the Modelling Human Behavior (MoHuB) framework (Schlüter, et al. 2017). As a result of this study, a sensitivity analysis of how different behavioral theories affect the dynamics of social-ecological systems which enables the evaluation of the robustness of policy implementation to different assumptions of human behavior where cooperation is a mechanism to improve resilience. This research was funded by the Technische Universität Dresden, by means of the Excellence Initiative by the German Federal and State Governments.
Students K-16 in the United States and Canada joined their GLOBE Program peers from across the world in collecting water quality measurements during a week-long data-collection period in September, led by the GLOBE Africa Regional Coordination Office. The project was built off of other GLOBE collaborations around spring phenology measurements (Europe) and expeditions to Mt. Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria (Africa). The efforts and resulting analysis of Collaboration: Water were supported by an international team of scientists, faculty and education professionals. The GLOBE Program Country Coordinators from the U.S. and Canada share the project goals, discuss the results of the September data challenge and how these lead into the community-based collaboration projects being developed between schools. Some of the projects will be presented during the International Virtual Science Symposium and Student Research Symposia in spring 2020. This project works on several levels. It creates resiliency locally through community-based inquiry, supports the development of 21st Century critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills and places the community investigations into the global context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation). Along with tools, templates and the benefits of participation, the presenters will share how other communities can be involved in the March data collection event.
In support of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments, the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) has established a goal to become climate neutral by 2050. While much progress has been made to lower the University’s carbon footprint across multiple emissions sectors, tree conservation or restoration has traditionally been excluded due to concerns about the reliability and consistency of the science. For the past several years, faculty and students in UMD’s Department of Geographical Sciences have been working with state governments across the region to inform climate action planning with advanced forest carbon science. However, with student support and leadership, we identified an opportunity to retool this same science to help UMD “walk the walk” and advance our own forest climate goals in parallel with Maryland and other U.S. Climate Alliance states. By partnering with the Office of Sustainability and other land management entities, we have been able to directly inform the campus climate action plan with robust forest carbon estimates as well as influence and support the carbon budgeting process of all universities that have pledged support for the “Carbon Commitment.” Unlike state governments, the university’s approach to sustainability broadly follows that of a corporation, requiring enhanced collaboration to ensure the science is provided in user-relevant formats while remaining consistent with science approaches utilized by state partners. Our experience during the first year of this project underscores the value of building out scientific approaches that meet specific stakeholder needs while remaining poised to adapt these tools in support of new partnerships and collaborations.
If the university can be thought of as an incubator for ideas and thought leadership, then each department is a learning ecosystem unto itself. The IDEEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences) Working Group formed organically in Cornell’s Earth and Atmospheric Sciences department as a grassroots group with a desire to improve the department ecosystem. Self-selected from the full cross-section of the department, our members comprise students, staff, researchers, faculty, and emeriti. IDEEAS is a non-hierarchical group within the very hierarchical setting of academia, and our work provides a model for disrupting traditional power structures while leveraging their influence to reimagine how an academic unit could and should function. IDEEAS is not a committee; we are a collective. We believe that, irrespective of rank or role, every member of the department community has the capacity to practice leadership. As such, we lead by action. Each IDEEAS project or initiative is organized around an action team, who collectively carry out a community-informed vision of the culture we would like to co-create with the rest of the department. Our commitment to collective leadership empowers constituencies (e.g., students, non-academic staff, post-docs) who have traditionally lacked a pathway to provide input or participate in department-level decision making. IDEEAS is developing formal channels of communication between the group and department leadership in an effort to develop a sustainable ecosystem that will outlive its founders. IDEEAS events combine community building and intentional learning opportunities to promote critical reflection and foster connections. Events included a well-attended kickoff party with facilitated conversation that drew 56 attendees (~40% of the department), and community conversations about implicit bias and structural racism. IDEEAS organizers have been critically responsive during ongoing COVID19 isolation, providing numerous opportunities for social connection and using the disruption as a catalyst to cultivate connection and build community resilience that will outlast the pandemic. We invite discussion and collaboration with those engaged in similar justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion work in the geosciences.
Texas will be uniquely situated as the nexus of the “X” where the annular eclipse of October 14, 2023 and the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024 cross. Everyone in the state of Texas will experience at least 84% solar coverage for one or both of these remarkable events, and over 8 million people will be within a 30 minute drive of totality, not counting the dramatic influx of visitors expected because of the favorable weather conditions. Texas is the fastest growing state, and one with the highest fraction (25%) of children under 18. In addition, it is one with a large population of ESL learners in the path of the dark skies. Our goals are three: 1. To bring information to all regions of the state so that every person has a safe experience of a partial and/or annular eclipse; 2. To maximize the number of Texans (residents and visitors) who can experience totality; and 3. To create a set of activities for schools, for groups, and for citizen scientists to collect data on the environment and on bird and animal behavior during these events. We have created two websites for information about the upcoming eclipses http://space.rice.edu/eclipse and http://texaseclipse.net; we have a mailing list for people and educators interested in eclipses http://eepurl.com/cv68Qj and we have seven eclipse animations already created for planetariums and schools: https://space.rice.edu/eclipse/eclipse_animations.html, plus a number of diagrams. We are creating two more animations describing annular eclipses which should be ready for the AGU meeting. We have developed a set of Powerpoint slides and animations to be used for eclipse training, and special “dome versions” using the fulldome animations, to be used in fixed and portable planetariums. We have already done trainings in South Texas (where the eclipses cross) and will work with AAS, NASA, and other groups to ensure the widest possible dissemination of eclipse information, particularly safety information. By the time of AGU we will have already used these materials in teacher trainings at the CAST conference and planetarium trainings for LIPS, and will post them for download. Educational and safety materials will be provided in both English and Spanish, and presentations for both flatscreen Powerpoint or fulldome planetarium programs will be made freely available, thanks to the NASA HEAT program.
This mass balance study was intended to provide up-to-date information about the water quality of the headwater streams draining to the Mohican and Walhonding rivers. This data will be used to define target locations for conservation practices, including agricultural and stormwater management practices. During the study, 124 sites were sampled twice in 2021: during spring high-flow conditions (May) and fall low-flow conditions (August).