Geoscientists Highlight Economic Importance Of Research To Congress

2015-09-18T12:15:12+00:00 September 18, 2015|
California drought, dry riverbed 2009 (Credit: Wikipedia commons)

(Click to enlarge) California drought, dry riverbed 2009 (Credit: Wikipedia commons)

Congressman Honda (D-CA) stressed the need for science communication when opening a briefing he hosted with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) this week highlighting the economic value of innovation and federal investment in earth and geoscience research.

Following the interactive reception where representatives from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), NSF (National Science Foundation), AGU, and USGS (U.S. Geological Survey) explained the mission of their organizations to attendees, speakers from academia and industry gave short talks showcasing exciting research projects that are applicable to everyday life. Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh’s (Stanford University) presentation illustrated this connection perfectly. As a climate change scientist in California, he is often asked if the current drought is influenced by global warming. “This is a really important question for real-world decisions. Because if the answer is no… in terms of managing this disaster we can get through this one event and get back to the old status quo. But if global warming is influencing the event… what it implies is that the risk of these kinds of conditions is increasing.” His research has suggested that anthropogenic warming is increasing the probability of the co-occurrence of warm–dry conditions that have created the current California drought.

Jenifer Austin (Google Ocean Program) gave a demonstration of Google Ocean, explaining how big data acquired by the geoscience research community and made available to the public by Google is helping fishery enforcement and allowing children to take virtual field trips to the Great Barrier Reef. Austin said that in classroom demonstrations children were extremely excited about exploring the underwater world and she hopes that such experiences will increase the appreciation for this unique habitat among them. Using her career path to being a scientist at the Southwest Research Institute as an example, Dr. Cynthia Dinwiddie pointed out how funding to the geoscience community is essential for future talent development. Dinwiddie has evaluated the performance and safety of radioactive waste. Lack of funding to train scientist like her would ultimately compromise public and environmental safety, and harm scientific and economic competitiveness of this country.