Science to Action: Communication of Science and strategies to fight misinformation - Practice, Research and Reflection?

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 optimise 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.

This session will also explore the way efficient communication strategies can help prevent, fight and debunk misinformation. Case studies, comparisons between different hazards and risks as well as best practices to fight misinformation at all stages of the risk cycle will be explored. Of special interest are contributions that take into account different aspects of communication (e.g. format, medium, actors, cultural context, time frame,...). The diversity of participants (researchers practitioners, journalists, educators, and policy makers) will enrich the discussion.

Convener: Sam Illingworth | Co-conveners: Heidi Roop, Mathew Stiller-Reeve, Kristin TrimmECSECS, Laure FallouECSECS, Irina Dallo, Michèle Marti, Femke Mulder
vPICO presentations
| Tue, 27 Apr, 13:30–15:00 (CEST)

vPICO presentations: Tue, 27 Apr

Chairpersons: Sam Illingworth, Laure Fallou, Heidi Roop
Geoscience Communication
Marie Heidenreich

1. Science communication is relevant when it comes to getting a project approved. This applies not only to nationally funded research projects, but also to science within the Horizon Europe framework. A solid communication concept is not only a great advantage when it comes to project approval. Science communication can also increase the impact within the research community.

2. Science communication increases the impact of a project. The impact of a project is primarily assessed on the basis of publications in scientific journals. Scientists also read newspapers and watch television - and surf the Internet. Without the appealing presentation of research results, they would not necessarily become aware of studies outside their own specialist area. More and more researchers are on social networks such as Twitter and find out about new articles via their timeline. So thanks to social media, it's becoming easier to share publications online. 

3. Science communication improves collaboration within a project. A positive side effect: especially in large collaborative projects in which researchers are involved in very different disciplines, the project partners can communicate better if the different research approaches and goals are flanked by professional science communication. In their interview study “What do scientists gain from science communication?”, science communication scientists from the University of Münster asked 75 scientists from two interdisciplinary research networks and found that science communication stimulates the exchange between colleagues, imparts knowledge about research in other disciplines, provides an overview of research in the network and promotes the establishment of personal contacts among colleagues.

4. Thanks to science communication, research reaches people outside of the science community. The more clearly presented, the more interest is aroused. But we hardly need to explain that to you as the guests of this session. The communication of scientific results on the effects of plastic in the ocean caused the largely invisible phenomenon of plastic littering has now received enormous public attention and is currently perceived as one of the greatest threats to the marine environment. Many research projects that want to initiate societal change can only achieve their goals with public relations.

5. Often the decisive factor: there is funding for science communication. In everyday science, this is a crucial prerequisite for science communication to take place. Research projects can acquire additional resources and hire professional science communicators to support outreach. Therefore, the scientists can concentrate on their research. The talk will include a brief overview of the funding opportunities that are available for science communication in the EU.

How to cite: Heidenreich, M.: 5 reasons why research projects should communicate their science, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15856, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15856, 2021.

John Murray, Tiernan Henry, Tracy Frank, Labhaoise Ní Dhonnchadha, Blaneth McSharry, Gráinne McGrath, Sharon Flynn, Jeremiah Spillane, and Iain Mac Labhrainn

The History of Life film project is deeply rooted in the area of science communication, education and public engagement. Every year since 2011, NUI Galway final-year undergraduate science students taking the module History of Life have been tasked with researching a significant theme related to the evolution of life on Earth, and then producing a short documentary-style film on their chosen topic. The students work in small teams and have no prior training in film-making. Their finished films are uploaded to a specially created channel on YouTube, where they have amassed large viewing figures. The value of this multimodal teaching approach is that it engages all of the major learning domains. Cognitive skills are enhanced through acquisition, analysis and communication of knowledge, and practical skills are honed through deployment and use of technology. The students also develop their team-working skills and they find the overall learning experience both novel and rewarding: positively impacting on the affective domain. The strong temporal narrative which underpins palaeontology makes it well suited for film and in the ten years that the History of Life film project has been running, many inspiring moments have been captured by the various student teams. This presentation draws upon student feedback, along with instructor and media developer insights, to highlight key takeaways from the project and makes recommendations for optimising best practice in media-based science communication/educational initiatives.

For more information please see the following highlights compilation: https://youtu.be/0Y0RmQFb628

How to cite: Murray, J., Henry, T., Frank, T., Ní Dhonnchadha, L., McSharry, B., McGrath, G., Flynn, S., Spillane, J., and Mac Labhrainn, I.: The History of Life film project, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-958, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-958, 2021.

Anita Heward and Jen DeWitt

In this presentation, we will give an overview of the Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit, a resource that aims to empower outreach providers and educators in measuring and appraising the impact of their activities. The toolkit is intended to provide advice and resources that can be simply and easily integrated into normal outreach and education activities. It is available as an interactive online resource (http://www.europlanet-eu.org/europlanet-evaluation-toolkit/), as a downloadable PDF and as a hard copy (including a book and set of activity cards).

The toolkit has been developed over a number of years with content provided by professional outreach evaluators Karen Bultitude and Jennifer DeWitt (UCL, UK). Initially, a series of focus groups and scoping discussions were held with active outreach providers from the planetary science community in order to determine what they wanted from such a toolkit, and what sort of tools would be of most interest. A shortlist of tools was developed based on these discussions, with volunteers testing out the tool instructions once they were drafted.

The toolkit begins with a brief introduction to evaluation and steps to choosing the right tools. This advice takes the form of a series of questions to help design an evaluation approach and make the most efficient and effective use possible of limited time and resources.

The toolkit offers a choice of 14 data collection tools that can be selected according to the audience (e.g. primary, secondary, interested adult, general public), the type of environment and activity (e.g. drop-in, interactive workshop, ongoing series, lecture/presentation or online) or according to when they might best be used (during, beginning/end, or after an event). The online version of the toolkit includes a set of interactive tables to help with the selection of which tool is most appropriate for any given situation.

The toolkit includes descriptions and worked examples of how to use two techniques (word-clouds and thematic coding) to analyse the data, as well as some top tips for evaluation and recommended resources.

For some of the tools, case study examples include information about how the tools have been used in the context of an event, how data was actually collected and analysed and what conclusions were reached, based on the data gathered.

The Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 871149 (Europlanet 2024 RI) and 654208 (Europlanet 2020 RI).

How to cite: Heward, A. and DeWitt, J.: The Europlanet Evaluation Toolkit, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15507, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15507, 2021.

Claudia Volosciuk

The Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is driven by the need to understand the variability and trends in atmospheric composition and the related physical parameters, and to assess the consequences thereof. GAW provides reliable scientific information for a broad spectrum of users, including policymakers, on topics related to atmospheric chemical composition. The programme supports international environmental and climate agreements and improves our understanding of climate change and long-range transboundary air pollution through its work on greenhouse gases, aerosols, reactive gases, atmospheric deposition, stratospheric ozone, and ultraviolet radiation. GAW provides information based on combinations of observations, data analysis and modelling activities, and supports a number of applications at the global, regional and urban scale. This implies a variety of target groups and communication vectors. Due to the complexity and interrelations of the different constituents in atmospheric chemistry and the diversity of the target audience, communication of the related issues represents a substantial challenge. Some examples are questions like “If greenhouse gas emissions are falling, why do concentrations not decrease?”, “if satellite data show pollution reductions, why can’t we say that it is due to emission reductions?” etc.  

To sustain the credibility and increase the visibility of GAW within the WMO community and other national/international bodies, the broader scientific and policy communities, as well as the general public, increasing efforts towards “communicating GAW” are taken. The global pandemic related to COVID-19 was the dominating topic around the globe in 2020. This required adjustments to communication efforts. Due to in-person meetings being impossible, all communication efforts required delivery and engagement through virtual formats.

While emissions of carbon dioxide (among others) have decreased temporarily in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, concentrations have continued to increase. This has led to confusion among many non-scientists who were surprised that the restrictions they were experiencing did not even have the effect of decreasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Thereby, the crisis has provided an opportunity to explain the difference between emissions and concentrations, emphasizing that carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) are long-lived and remain in the atmosphere for a long time, and highlighting the importance to reach net-zero emissions. Similar confusion was related to the interpretation of the pollution levels and also required additional communication efforts.

Reflections on communication of atmospheric composition in the framework of WMO/GAW, including challenges and opportunities during the public health crisis will be presented.

How to cite: Volosciuk, C.: Complexities of communicating atmospheric composition and its impacts during the COVID-19 public health crisis in 2020, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2195, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2195, 2021.

Janne-Markus Rintala, Maiju Tiiri, Alexander Zilliacus, Karlina Ozolina, and Elena Saltikoff

A virtual conference can be much more than another lengthy video meeting. The Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) research infrastructure was aiming for 400 participants with a traditional physical conference. Yet the organisers were pleasantly surprised when their virtual Science conference attracted more than 1000 participants. What were the key elements of this success?

The abstract submission and review process of a virtual event doesn’t have to be different from a face-to-face conference, but the double-anonymous review process used herein was considered one of the main elements of the success, because it allowed several junior scientists, and even PhD students as speakers in plenary sessions. Another benefit of using virtual platform is that it allowed participation even without any own presentation, because there are no travel nor lodging costs. Our conference was also free of charge and without any registration fees, which is in accordance with EU Open Science Policy. This encouraged student - and worldwide participation.

With regards to the technicalities, selecting well-experienced, professional virtual event organizer as a partner is essential. Keeping track of the work flow between partners and within the organisation team members is easier when the work division is agreed on at the start and a “master file” is created to keep everyone on track. This also allows for any questions and requests to be shared easily, allowing for systematic updates and traceable flow of information. Uploading of presentations two weeks in allocated voluntary practice sessions to be organized for all speakers before the conference. This practice together with professional studio video-streaming team secured running three parallel sessions smoothly throughout conference. In future, those pre-rehearsals could be made mandatory but even with this 50% of speakers practising, no major difficulties in presentations were encountered. Compared to physical conference the timing of parallel sessions succeeded with highest precision that enabled audience to switch between the sessions without missing any of the presentation beginnings nor causing any disturbance to the speaker or delays in the programme.

A dedicated public text chat in every session was found useful and essential in a virtual conference. This could easily be implemented in any physical conference as well. The chat helped the chair to select questions based on content, and even those questions which did not get floor time were answered afterwards in the chat – either by presenter or other community members. Everybody was getting an equal opportunity to ask their question or making their comment and thus getting their voices to be heard.

Recording all sessions and having them available online for limited time allowed participants a chance to listen to talks from parallel sessions afterwards, and encouraged participation across time zones.

The overall participant feedback was positive and encouraging to include some of the virtual elements in the future ICOS conferences even when pandemic situation allows traveling.

How to cite: Rintala, J.-M., Tiiri, M., Zilliacus, A., Ozolina, K., and Saltikoff, E.: ICOS Science Conference 2020, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1198, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1198, 2021.

Sam Illingworth, Hazel Gibson, and Susanne Buiter

In the spring of 2020, as the coronavirus swept across the globe, millions of people were required to make drastic changes to their lives to help contain the impact of the virus. Among those changes, scientific conferences of every type and size were forced to cancel or postpone in order to protect public health. Included in these was the European Geosciences Union (EGU) 2020 General Assembly. After a six-week pivot to an online alternative, attendees of the newly designed EGU20: Sharing Geoscience Online took part in the first geoscience conference of its size to go fully online.
This work explores the feedback provided by participants following this experimental conference and identifies four key themes that emerged from analysis of the questions: what did people miss from a regular meeting; and to what extent did going online impact the event itself, both in terms of challenges and opportunities?
The themes identified are: connection, engagement, environment, and accessibility; and include discussions of the value of informal connections and spontaneous scientific discovery during conferences, the necessity of considering the environmental cost of in-person meetings, and the opportunities for widening participation in science by investing in accessibility.
The responses in these themes cover both positive and negative experiences of participants and raise important questions about what conference providers of the future will need to do to meet the needs of the scientific community in the years following the coronavirus outbreak.

How to cite: Illingworth, S., Gibson, H., and Buiter, S.: The Future of Conferences: Lessons Learnt from EGU20: Sharing Geoscience Online, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1940, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1940, 2021.

Joanna Zawiejska and Agnieszka Świętek

Pre-university education is the most comprehensive channel of communicating verified and uniform science information to young people. Despite this foundational role, how that science is taught in schools seems often overlooked, with more attention devoted to the efficacy of alternative education pathways. We argue that effective formal science education is crucial as it nurtures future willingness to embrace new scientific information, shapes perceptions, and promotes “intellectually sustainable” attitudes towards the abiotic environment and its dynamic nature. In particular, inquiry-based teaching is necessary for students to be open to life-long learning and critical thinking as adults when they inevitably confront the effects of climate change, increasing risks from natural hazards, environmental change and simultaneous expansion of social media as a basic, if not primary, source of information about the world. Based on the analysis of Polish education system and curricula, and on interviews with geosciences teachers participating in targeted workshops, we identify systemic aspects of formal education that influence effectiveness of science communication likely to affect student attitudes, with particular regard to geohazards, related risks and to environmental protection. Factors that influence effectiveness of that education include (i) adequate knowledge transfer between fast-developing geosciences and the education system, (ii) progress in geosciences education and didactics research, (iii) long-term teacher training, (iv) progress in development and availability of innovative education tools, (v) development, construction and topicality of geosciences curricula content, (vi) degree of freedom by the teachers in interpretation and following the curriculum content, and (vii) consistency in curriculum content throughout the education cycle and across subjects that include geosciences topics. Coordination of these aspects is challenging, especially since each is designed, driven, supervised and often financed by different actors. Particular attention should be given to the timely incorporation of current scientific knowledge into school curricula to avoid significant time lags in the content of communicated information and resultant collation of contradictory messages that students receive. Finally, we emphasize the urgent need for development of post-diploma education programmes and similar initiatives that will support geosciences teachers

How to cite: Zawiejska, J. and Świętek, A.: How not to miss a great opportunity? A closer look at teaching geosciences in formal education systems, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14556, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-14556, 2021.

Martin Archer, Jennifer DeWitt, Carol Davenport, Olivia Keenan, Lorraine Coghill, Anna Christodoulou, Samantha Durbin, Heather Campbell, and Lewis Hou

A major focus in the STEM public engagement sector concerns engaging with young people, typically through schools. The aims of these interventions are often to positively affect students’ aspirations towards continuing STEM education and ultimately into STEM-related careers. Most schools engagement activities take the form of short one-off interventions that, while able to achieve positive outcomes, are limited in the extent to which they can have lasting impacts on aspirations. We review various different emerging programmes of repeated interventions with young people, assessing what impacts can realistically be expected. Short series of interventions appear also to suffer some limitations in the types of impacts achievable. However, deeper programmes that interact with both young people and those that influence them over significant periods of time (months to years) seem to be more effective in influencing aspirations. We discuss how developing a Theory of Change and considering young people’s wider learning ecologies are required in enabling lasting impacts in a range of areas.

How to cite: Archer, M., DeWitt, J., Davenport, C., Keenan, O., Coghill, L., Christodoulou, A., Durbin, S., Campbell, H., and Hou, L.: Going beyond the one-off: How can STEM engagement programmes with young people have real lasting impact?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7943, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-7943, 2021.

Bethan Davies, Laura Boyall, Jen Thornton, Huw Griffiths, Peter Neff, Klaus Dodds, Simon Ross, Addy Pope, Katie Hall, and Jason Sawle

www.AntarcticGlaciers.org was set up in 2012 to promote public understanding of glaciers and climate change. The website aims to connect researchers to the next generation, to focus on make science accessible and interesting, and to provide an easy-to-find resource for teachers, with relevant, engaging, original content, interesting visuals and teaching resources. This approach helps scientists connect with a large community; there are 250,000 GCSE Geography school students in the UK alone.


AntarcticGlaciers.org is used as a teaching resource by numerous universities and schools worldwide, and is recommended explicitly to teachers by the UK Geographical Association, SCAR, the Quaternary Research Association, the Royal Geographical Society and the Geologists’ Association, among others. Resources from the website have been used in numerous school textbooks and MOOCs. Evaluation of user statistics shows that, to date, AntarcticGlaciers.org has received >3.2 million page views from >1.7 million visitors located across the globe. It has been well cited by diverse news outlets and scientific institutions including NASA, NSIDC, AGU, EGU and RealClimate.org. Google Analytics data shows that a substantial portion of the audience are engaged in the education sector. The website is the top or second hit in Google for a number of related search terms, and the majority of the traffic originates from organic searches.


AntarcticGlaciers.org is supported by an unpaid Advisory Board comprising Higher Education professionals and practicing school teachers. The Advisory Board, in conjunction with focus groups and interviews held with teachers and teaching professional bodies, helps to guide website development. These interviews have revealed few appropriate teaching resources covering Antarctica for younger age groups (11-14 years). Resources that focused on quantitative data, introducing GIS and mapping, and that were clearly linked into the curriculum, were particularly sought after. Teachers indicated that existing content is often too hard and needs to be rewritten. Case studies, exciting multimedia visuals, interactive GIS and interesting student exercises are intensely desired. In current times, accessibility for learners at home is key priority. The limited attention spans of children means that large blocks of text do not work well and are best broken up with multimedia resources. Interactivity engages the learner and increases knowledge retention. Supporting teachers in teaching these topics, by developing engaging and exciting introductory content, is therefore a critical outreach goal.


In this project, funded by the Antarctic Science Bursary, academic experts have worked with pedagogical consultants and ESRI educational consultants to develop a series of four ESRI StoryMap collections that cover: Introduction to Antarctica, Antarctic Wildlife, Antarctica and Climate Change, and People in Antarctica. These fully interactive StoryMaps include student mapping exercises, videos and interviews with experts, high quality photography and engaging imagery. They are tightly keyed into the national curriculum, and by working with educational experts, we have attempted to ensure that they are useful for teachers. Reviews by independent stakeholders at the final stage of the project will ensure that the StoryMaps will be effective in the classroom, especially in an online learning environment.

How to cite: Davies, B., Boyall, L., Thornton, J., Griffiths, H., Neff, P., Dodds, K., Ross, S., Pope, A., Hall, K., and Sawle, J.: Science into schools: reviewing and designing useful online teaching resources on glaciers, Antarctica and climate change., EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7885, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-7885, 2021.

Inga Beck, Sophie Weeks, Pia Cassarini, Julia Dooley, Betsy Wilkening, David Marinez, and Neelu Singh

PEI is the leading international professional network for polar educators and scientists, formed in 2012 as an outcome of the Education and Outreach activities of the IPY, connecting polar education, research and the global community.  The organisation encourages collaboration, networking and dialogue between teachers and researchers developing science communication and engagement tools and methodologies, integrating and evaluating learning and engagement at all stages of the research process. Three opportunities to be involved in this work are highlighted.   


International Collaboration

PEI, collaborating with IASC, SCAR and APECS is working with researchers and polar educators to review and update Polar Science and Global Change - An International Resource for Education and Outreach (IPY2010), a comprehensive book of teaching and communication resources including scientific information, research material, methods and hands-on activities to bring polar research into classrooms and the community. The updated online version will provide existing and new resources, in multiple languages, downloadable as chapters and activities including: 

Current science and future research questions

Emerging topics - 3rd pole, remote sensing and microplastics

Activities/Labs for teaching polar science

Communication techniques for different audiences

Public outreach initiatives

Capacity building and careers

Indigenous knowledge

Opportunities are available to join the collaborative group of educators and scientists to evaluate the existing resource and contribute to developing a new online resource.


Professional Networking in Bits and Bytes

PEI members have been connecting, collaborating, and creating in an online environment since 2012. PEI members also get together at the PEI biennial international workshop to share and evaluate current polar education, outreach and science communication initiatives with international peers and experts. In preparation for the 2022 PEI Iceland workshop, members will present a programme of online professional development experiences for polar educators, science communicators and community members beginning in Spring 2021, highlighting strengths and challenges of engaging audiences . These will be shared freely and evaluated through discussion. 


Global Dialogue

PEI welcomes participation in a global cafe, connecting interdisciplinary and diverse communities, encouraging ongoing dialogue about effective polar education and action.

There are many networks and partnerships who engage in polar education, science communication, community learning and research but there are few opportunities to collect together this experience and expertise on a global scale. The first global conversation - Connecting Education, Indigenous Knowledge & Arctic Research, will contribute material for a report to the Arctic Science Ministerial. It Aims to connect dialogues about polar education and outreach, particularly concerning the Arctic, which is changing faster than any other environment on the planet.This is a unique opportunity for science, education and community partners with an interest in the Arctic to weave networks, lead dialogue and participate in a global conversation.

How to cite: Beck, I., Weeks, S., Cassarini, P., Dooley, J., Wilkening, B., Marinez, D., and Singh, N.: Engaging Audiences - new tools and innovative methods for polar education, engagement and communication, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-7383, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-7383, 2021.

Cornelia Baumann and Inga Beck

Education is key in order to create a generation that thinks and acts sustainable and that considers nature as one of the most important good.Within the three years Interreg Project ‘KlimaAlps’ (www.klimaalps.eu) – making climate change visible - one major task is the establishment of a training for educators, to become a certified ‘Climate-Pedagogue’ for the alpine region. The ‘Climate-Pedagogue’-training contains background information of climate change in the Alps and a variety of innovative educational tools and methods. It covers aspects of the high mountain areas, rivers and lakes, human beings, agriculture as well as moors.  The project is managed by the ‘Energiewende Oberland’; five additional partners from Austria and Bavaria are responsible for e. g. a high quality of the taught scientific information (Environmental Research Station Schneefernerhaus), the didactical input (University of Innsbruck, Department of Geography), the outreach activities and the implementation (Naturpark Karwendel, Klimabündnis Oberösterreich, Landratsamt Garmisch-Partenkirchen). During the last one and half years, the concept for the ‘Climate-Pedagogue’- training was worked out in cooperation with other environmental facilities and in March 2021 the first lectures of a pilot run with over 30 selected participants were held. In total there will be two runs in 2021 in order to evaluate the recent version of the training as good as possible. The next and long-term steps will be the firm establishment of a chargeable ‘Climate-Pedagogue’ – Training for every interested person for at least the coming ten years, as well as the strengthening and growing of the network. The presentation will give a short overview about the entire project as well as details about the ‘Climate-Pedagogue’ – Training and some first impressions of the already hold lectures in 2021.

How to cite: Baumann, C. and Beck, I.: Communicating Climate Change to broad public through Educations - Project KlimaAlps, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4690, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-4690, 2021.

Christopher Skinner, Alison Lloyd Wiliams, Maggie Mort, and Joanne Coles

Flooding is recognised as a powerful agent of geomorphology. During a few hours of a flood event, more change can occur to a river and its valley than accumulated changes over several decades. Floods are also a powerful force of change in our human experience. Floods (re)shape lives, communities and societies, causing devastation and upheaval but also creating experience and enhanced understanding among flood-affected people of the need to adapt and live with water. So, to appreciate the full of impacts of flooding it is important to consider and communicate the ways it changes both 'landscapes and lifescapes'.

In the Landscapes to Lifescapes online exhibition, hosted on The Flood Hub (https://thefloodhub.co.uk/), social scientists and geomorphologists collaborate to explore the material and social meaning of flooding. ‘Landscapes’ shows the complex and varied forms of flooding and how these alter rivers and valleys, visualised by digital activities from the SeriousGeoGames Lab. ‘Lifescapes’ illuminates some of the effects of flooding on families and communities, using flood testimonies gathered from a series of qualitative participative studies. The exhibition culminates in a 360 virtual reality experience, telling the true story of a young boy caught up in flooding. Help Callum was created combining software designed for videogames and a real flood narrative, allowing visitors to experience Callum’s journey from flood victim to flood activist, through his eyes and using his words.

The aim of the exhibition is to promote flood resilience knowledge and actions to the users through: raising awareness of flood risk and recovery, including particular impacts on children and young people; encouraging the users’ agency by highlighting actions that can be taken at household and community level; and modelling positive behaviours by providing examples and case studies. Evaluation is conducted throughout using feedback boards and polls. 

How to cite: Skinner, C., Lloyd Wiliams, A., Mort, M., and Coles, J.: Landscapes to Lifescapes - Sociotechnical interventions in public engagement , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12105, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12105, 2021.

Ihor Bubniak, Serhiy Tsikhon, Anatoliy Tserklevych, Yevheniy Shylo, and Mariia Oliinyk

We present a new educational course "Creation of virtual geological outcrops of the outskirts of Lviv" for students of geological specialties. Discipline "Creation of virtual geological outcrops of the outskirts of Lviv" is a selective discipline for students of 2-3 courses of various specialties, which is lectured in the amount of 3 credits (according to ECTS). The course is 32 hours of classroom classes, 16 hours of these of lectures, the rest 16 hours of practical classes and 58 hours of self-study.

The course is in three parts. First is preparatory ones. Students get acquainted with the geological structure of Lviv, prepare equipment for field work.

The field stage (the second part of the course) includes the survey of 3-4 geological objects around Lviv. These can be natural outcrops, quarries. A particularly valuable object for learning is the Honey Cave, located within the city limits. Depending on the object, we choose the type of survey— digital photogrammetry or terrestrial laser scanning. Each group of 4 students explores 2 objects.

The third cameral period includes field data processing. Students create 3D geological models and perform various measurements on them. Students compare different types of models to choose the best one. At this stage, students use a variety of software available in institutions. The final stage of the course is the preparation of a report and passing the exam.

The project war partly financed by EGU HE Teaching Award.

How to cite: Bubniak, I., Tsikhon, S., Tserklevych, A., Shylo, Y., and Oliinyk, M.: Educational course "Creation of virtual geological outcrops of the outskirts of Lviv", EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-4565, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-4565, 2021.

Michael Villafranca, Brittany Webster, and Elizabeth Landau

Communicating the value of science to policymakers has never been more importance, but how do you make a difference while adhering to new norms for physical distancing? Regardless of one’s level of technological aptitude, and no matter if time constraints exist, scientists can still effectively communicate the value of their science to policymakers through virtual means. The Public Affairs team from the American Geophysical Union will share lessons learned from several virtual advocacy events held in 2020 and will cover a few communications strategies for influencing policymakers through virtual science policy engagements—from virtual meetings with policymakers to social media to traditional media.

How to cite: Villafranca, M., Webster, B., and Landau, E.: Virtual Advocacy Days for Science in Times of Crisis: Communications and Engagement Influencing Decision-Making, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16353, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-16353, 2021.

Josh Wolstenholme and Christopher Skinner

Flooding is a major risk to lives and properties globally and this risk is increasing because of several factors, not least the increase of sea level and changes to patterns of precipitation due to climate change. Whilst flood management interventions can reduce the risk and the impact of flooding, it is not possible, and never will be possible, to stop flooding completely and this necessitates a public that is informed and equipped to take actions to increase their personal resilience.

Successful learning in Geosciences requires 3D thinking yet many of the tools used by educators are 2D visualisations, relying on the student’s individual ability and imagination. There has been an increasing use of interactive 3D visualisations, particularly of geological outcrops, yet the methods used to produce these either rely on expensive equipment or processing using high-specification machines. The 360 Lab uses new functionality offered by state-of-the-art tablets to rapidly capture high-resolution 3D scenes of flood management interventions, for example, woody dams.

The 3D scenes were used to create interactive models of the flood management features, allowing people to get, virtually, ‘hands-on’ and explore them. The 3D models are fully compatible with virtual reality headsets. Guided tours of schemes have been developed to be used by schools, showing how features are installed and providing a focus to discuss how they work and how effective they might be.  This overcomes challenges to accessing such locations, including location, budget, accessibility, and Covid-19 related restrictions. Future developments include using the rapid scans to create 3D printed models of features for face-to-face learning and scaled experiments.

How to cite: Wolstenholme, J. and Skinner, C.: The 360 Lab, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10189, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10189, 2021.

Zoe Jacobs, Ekaterina Popova, Lucy Cox, and Daniel Gill

MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses are picking up momentum in popularity. Unlike regular courses, MOOCs can attract many thousands of enrollees around the world and engage broader audiences outside of academia, such as governent officials and NGOs. With scientific communication and policy engagement practices shifting online due to the current pandemic, MOOCs can be seen as a digital tool that acts as a confluence for education, public engagement and capacity development. In this presentation we will introduce you to a MOOC “Ocean Sceince in Action: Addressing marine ecosystems and food security”, which attracted ~1800 participants from over 100 countries for its first run in October 2020 with these numbers continuing to increase for subsequent runs (the next started on 18th January). The MOOC aims to introduce the participants to innovative marine technologies and their applications used to tackle the challenges of the sustainable management of marine ecosystems with specific lectures focussed on food security, impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems and fisheries, the sustainable development goals and the Ocean Decade 2030.

Marine autonomous systems are becoming ever more reliable and easy to use for environmental observations – at a fraction of the cost of a research ship. Earth observation satellites monitor the oceans daily, collecting a wide range of marine data, most of which are freely available from global archives. Ocean models of increasingly high resolution make it possible to explore regional ecosystem dynamics and gain insights into reasons for variability and change. Engaging participants globally into the cutting edge research and the use of marine data requires novel approaches to engagement, communication and teaching. Using elements of MOOC created by SOLSTICE (Sustainable Oceans, Livelihoods and food Security Through Increased Capacity in Ecosystem research in the Western Indian Ocean) program, this presentation will explore how research projects can create inspiring and informative digital content to communicate their findings to achieve a long lasting legacy of their results and better inform managers and politicians responsible for decision making.   

How to cite: Jacobs, Z., Popova, E., Cox, L., and Gill, D.: Ocean science in action: communicating cutting edge advances in marine research and technology via Massive Online Open Courses, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14571, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-14571, 2021.

Irina Dallo and Michèle Marti

In order to have an impact in practice, research approaches should reflect real conditions as much as possible and generate user-oriented findings. To this end, we need an interdisciplinary exchange among experts and authorities considering institutional structures. Moreover, a combination of innovative methods is required to assess the diverse public’s needs and to generate useful findings for the design of products and services to communicate multi-hazard information. Furthermore, the findings should be communicated to the scientific community as well as to the authorities and the public. Our contribution demonstrates a successful approach for involving different stakeholders in the design process of products and services in a multi-hazard context.

For our research, we are using a participatory and user-centred systemic approach with a major emphasis on user requirements driving future developments. It can be understood as a multi-perspective bottom-up approach, involving not only scientists from different disciplines but also authorities (e.g. decision makers) and the public. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods thereby allows to understand the wider social and structural context and thus to implement sustainable and suitable services and products.

A combination of various methods is used in this approach to assess the needs of the scientists, the public and the authorities. With surveys, we assess general patterns and needs and identify challenges and potentials. To compensate for the artificial setting questionnaires establish, we include experiments (e.g. conjoint choice experiments) into the surveys to test different options. With interviews or focus group discussions, we further deepen aspects that we quantitatively assessed in order to better understand people’s beliefs behind their choices. Moreover, we apply interactive methods from the design thinking toolbox, such as user-driven prototyping. This methods allow an understanding of users’ thinking and reveals needs and features that developers may not have thought of. Furthermore, we used the actor constellation – a role-play for jointly sorting out the relevance of various involved actors – to map the connections between the actors and to identify potential conflicts. To gain further insights and to contentiously enhance our products and services, we maintain a constant dialogue with different stakeholders.

An important aspect of this dialogue is the transparent and active communication of the findings to the scientific community as well as to the authorities and the public. For this purpose, we use the following mechanisms: co-creation of knowledge with key stakeholders, open-access papers for scientific journals, personal contact with actors involved, presentation at conferences, non-scientific reports for authorities (in the national languages), blog posts, social media posts, and exchange of knowledge and experience via project platforms. In order to be successful, the information communicated should meet the target audiences’ expectations.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 821115.

How to cite: Dallo, I. and Marti, M.: How to best involve different stakeholders in the design process of products and services to communicate multi-hazard information?, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-815, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-815, 2021.

Fighting Misinformation
Max Schneider and Fabrice Cotton

Probabilistic seismic hazard estimates are a key ingredient of earthquake risk mitigation strategies and are usually communicated through seismic hazard maps. Though evidence exists that visual design properties are key for effective communication using such maps, few authors describe their approach in visualizing seismic hazard. Current maps use colors, legends and data classification schemes which are suboptimal, from the visualization perspective. As such, they have the danger of miscommunicating seismic hazard. We present a set of principles regarding color choice, legend design, and classification of the continuous hazard estimate for categorical mapping. These principles are based on (1) communication goals for the seismic hazard phenomenon, (2) empirically-validated recommendations from the visualization literature and (3) other best practices in map design. We discuss the process of redesigning the German seismic hazard map using these principles. A set of prototype maps adhering to these principles are presented. We also describe ongoing efforts to test the redesigned maps, as well as how to use them to further communicate the uncertainty around probabilistic hazard estimates.

How to cite: Schneider, M. and Cotton, F.: When color theory meets seismology: Principled visualization design for seismic hazard maps , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8308, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8308, 2021.

Sara Mcbride, Robert de Groot, Tao Ruan, Qin Lv, and Qingkai Kong

On July 4, 2019, a M6.4 earthquake struck Ridgecrest, California. The next evening, on July 5, an even larger M7.1 rattled the region. The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States detected and issued ShakeAlert Messages for both earthquakes to pilot users of the system. Several ShakeAlert technical partners, including the Caltech UserDisplay demonstration console, also delivered alerts to their users. However, the Los Angeles City application (app), powered by ShakeAlert, developed and being tested by the City of Los Angeles did not deliver ShakeAlerts to approximately 700,000 test users in Los Angeles County. This is because the alerting threshold of the estimated shaking (above Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) IV, potentially damaging shaking) was not met for either event in Los Angeles County. While the minimum magnitude threshold of M5.0 for both earthquakes was met, the shaking estimated by the ShakeAlert system indicated that no part of Los Angeles County would experience levels of shaking that would be damaging. Although the ShakeAlert System performed as designed—in both the Ridgecrest area as well as in Los Angeles—various media outlets and initial feedback from LA City app users suggest that the public perceived that the system did not work.

This presentation offers an analysis of media and social media data related to the perceived performance of the ShakeAlert System during the Ridgecrest earthquake sequence. Specially, we focus on a comparison between media depictions and social media activity in the two geographic regions that did and did not receive a ShakeAlert message, Kern County and Los Angeles, respectively. This represents in many ways a natural experiment, and it is important to learn from these early perceptions of this emergent system.

How to cite: Mcbride, S., de Groot, R., Ruan, T., Lv, Q., and Kong, Q.: Failure to alert? Exploring perceptions of ShakeAlert during the 2019 Ridgecrest Earthquake SequenceShow affiliations, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13565, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13565, 2021.

Marina Corradini, Laure Fallou, Rémy Bossu, and Frédéric Roussel

Twitter has proved to be a powerful tool for the dissemination of scientific information in the aftermath of a seismic event. During an earthquake crisis, the affected population is in need of rapid, reliable information on what has just happened and what to do next to stay safe. However, it is not rare that reliable earthquake information takes a few minutes to be accessible and shared with the population. This shortcoming can have harmful impact: every time there is a lack of information, rumors fill the void and misinformation spreads. To make matters worse, scientific communication is often jargon-laden and hence perceived as overly technical, inappropriate, and unfeeling. Effective earthquake communication must therefore be:

  • rapid and clear, to prevent fake news from spreading;
  • transparent, by acknowledging uncertainty if reliable information is not available yet;
  • empathetic and compassionate, to decrease anxiety and promote a sense of calming.

In this light, we discuss the communication strategy of @LastQuake, the official Twitter channel (160k followers) of the Euro-Med Seismological Centre. When an earthquake strikes and is felt by the population, real-time information on the seismic event begins to be automatically published via a twitter-robot. These automatic tweets range from easily-accessible scientific information about the earthquake location and magnitude, to the shaking felt by the earthquake eyewitnesses, to the safety guidelines and –where applicable– to tsunami warnings. Our automatic tweets have little or no technical jargon. The Information is primarily accessed by users who are in the midst of responding and possibly traumatized. Hence our words, tone, and images have been carefully chosen to provide competent and appropriate communication. Meanwhile, when necessary, further tweets may be manually published to counter the onset of specific false claims and theories, or to address cultural and situational specific needs.  

Our discussion will outline the current @lastquake twitter-bot environment and discuss evidence-based best practices for using Twitter for earthquake crisis communication to avoid misinformation and promote self and community efficacy.

How to cite: Corradini, M., Fallou, L., Bossu, R., and Roussel, F.: Communicating in the aftermath of an earthquake: when Twitter proves to be a trustworthy and empathetic information channel. , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-147, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-147, 2021.

Jon Roozenbeek and Sarah Dryhurst

Misinformation about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a pressing societal challenge. Across two studies, one preregistered (n = 1,771 and n = 1,777), we assess the efficacy of two “prebunking” interventions aimed at improving people’s ability to spot manipulation techniques commonly used in COVID-19 misinformation, across three different cultural contexts (English, French, and German). We find that Go Viral!, a novel 5-minute “prebunking” browser game, (a) increases the perceived manipulativeness of misinformation about COVID-19, (b) improves people’s confidence in their ability to spot misinformation, and (c) reduces self-reported willingness to share misinformation with others. The first two effects remain significant for at least one week after gameplay. We also find that reading real-world infographics from UNESCO improve people’s ability and confidence in spotting COVID-19 misinformation (albeit with a smaller effect size than the game). 

How to cite: Roozenbeek, J. and Dryhurst, S.: Towards psychological herd immunity: Cross-cultural evidence for two prebunking interventions against COVID-19 misinformation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12138, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12138, 2021.

Bärbel Winkler and John Cook

Skeptical Science is a volunteer-run website publishing refutations of climate misinformation. Some members of the Skeptical Science team actively research best-practices refutation techniques while other team members use the provided materials to share debunking techniques effectively either in writing or through presentations. In this submission, we highlight several of our publications and projects, designed to help to give facts a fighting chance against misinformation. While some of the resources are nominally related to climate change, the underlying techniques apply across different topics. Resources include the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) “Denial101x - Making sense of Climate Science Denial” co-produced with the University of Queensland in 2015, the “FLICC-framework” explaining the taxonomy of science denial with its five main techniques (fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations, cherry picking, and conspiracy theories), the Debunking Handbook 2020 which summarizes research findings and expert advice about debunking misinformation, and the Conspiracy Theory Handbook distilling research findings and expert advice on dealing with conspiracy theories. We will also introduce the Cranky Uncle smartphone game, using critical thinking, gamification, and cartoons to interactively explain science denial techniques and build resilience against misinformation.

How to cite: Winkler, B. and Cook, J.: Giving Facts a fighting chance against misinformation, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-337, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-337, 2021.

Yavor Kamer, Shyam Nandan, Stefan Hiemer, Guy Ouillon, and Didier Sornette

Nature is scary. You can be sitting at your home and next thing you know you are trapped under the ruble of your own house or sucked into a sinkhole. For millions of years we have been the figurines of this precarious scene and we have found our own ways of dealing with the anxiety. It is natural that we create and consume prophecies, conspiracies and false predictions. Information technologies amplify not only our rational but also irrational deeds. Social media algorithms, tuned to maximize attention, make sure that misinformation spreads much faster than its counterpart.

What can we do to minimize the adverse effects of misinformation, especially in the case of earthquakes? One option could be to designate one authoritative institute, set up a big surveillance network and cancel or ban every source of misinformation before it spreads. This might have worked a few centuries ago but not in this day and age. Instead we propose a more inclusive option: embrace all voices and channel them into an actual, prospective earthquake prediction platform (Kamer et al. 2020). The platform is powered by a global state-of-the-art statistical earthquake forecasting model that provides near real-time earthquake occurrence probabilities anywhere on the globe (Nandan et al. 2020). Using this model as a benchmark in statistical metrics specifically tailored to the prediction problem, we are able to distill all these voices and quantify the essence of predictive skill. This approach has several advantages. Rather than trying to silence or denounce, we listen and evaluate each claim and report the predictive skill of the source. We engage the public and allow them to take part in a scientific experiment that will increase their risk awareness. We effectively demonstrate that anybody with an internet connected device can make an earthquake prediction, but that it is not so trivial to achieve skillful predictive performance.

Here we shall present initial results from our global earthquake prediction experiment that we have been conducting on www.richterx.com for the past two years, yielding more than 10,000 predictions. These results will hopefully demystify the act of predicting an earthquake in the eyes of the public, and next time someone forwards a prediction message it would arouse more scrutiny than panic or distaste.

Nandan, S., Kamer, Y., Ouillon, G., Hiemer, S., Sornette, D. (2020). Global models for short-term earthquake forecasting and predictive skill assessment. European Physical Journal ST. doi: 10.1140/epjst/e2020-000259-3
Kamer, Y., Nandan, S., Ouillon, G., Hiemer, S., Sornette, D. (2020). Democratizing earthquake predictability research: introducing the RichterX platform. European Physical Journal ST. doi: 10.1140/epjst/e2020-000260-2 

How to cite: Kamer, Y., Nandan, S., Hiemer, S., Ouillon, G., and Sornette, D.: How prediction statistics can help us cope when we are shaken, scared and irrational, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-15219, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-15219, 2021.

Rosalie Tostevin, Sinelethu Hashibi, and Batande Getyengana

Outreach and education work are commonly conducted in English1, but people engage more and understand better when the conversation is in their native tongue2–4. In South Africa, English is a first language for under 10% of the population, yet it dominates scientific discourse, alienating huge sections of the population5. To improve public engagement outcomes in South Africa, we are creating a linguistic framework for talking about geological sciences in indigenous African languages, starting with isiXhosa. IsiXhosa is the mother tongue of over 8 million people, and is mutually intelligible with Zulu, Northern Ndebele and Southern Ndebele, meaning it is potentially accessible to 23 million people.

This project is challenging because many geological terms such as meteorite or magma have no direct equivalent in isiXhosa. Therefore, part of this project involves building an open access geological dictionary. This presents an exciting opportunity to generate new, more intuitive and accessible vocabulary. The geological dictionary could provide a tool to transform geology departments, museums and public outreach events. It could also support international geologists to better engage with communities in their field areas.

Using this new vocabulary, we have written short stories summarising the most compelling, relevant parts of South Africa’s geological history. We have eschewed stuffy science writing in favour of compelling stories about our shared geological history that can spark conversation in social settings. The written form will be hosted on a website, and the stories will be recorded, with plans to broadcast them as a regular segment on a Xhosa radio station.

1Hamid, MO, Nguyen, HTM and Baldauf, R (2013) Introduction. Current Issues in Language Planning, 14(1).

2Benson, (2004) The importance of mother tongue-based schooling for educational quality. Paper commissioned for the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2005, The Quality Imperative, UNESCO, Paris.

3King, K and Mackey, A (2007) The bilingual edge: Why, when, and how to teach your child a second language. New York: Collins.

4Salili, F and Tsui, A (2005) ‘The effects of medium of instruction on students’ motivation and learning’, in Hoosain, R and Salili, F (eds) Language in multicultural education (Series: Research in Multicultural Education and International Perspectives) 135-156. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

5Nomlomo, Vuyokazi Sylvia. Science teaching and learning through the medium of English and IsiXhosa: A comparative study in two primary schools in the Western Cape. Diss. University of the Western Cape, 2007.

How to cite: Tostevin, R., Hashibi, S., and Getyengana, B.: Translating the geological record into isiXhosa, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10614, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10614, 2021.