December 10, 2017

Story: Ocean Tipping Points Outreach

By: Kristen Weiss

Now in its culminating year, the Ocean Tipping Points (OTP) project—a collaboration between COS, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and several other organizations—has spent the last several months reaching out online and in person to ocean managers and other stakeholders who may benefit from tipping points science. 

The Ocean Tipping Points web portal debuted in summer 2017, housing links to large datasets and publications produced during the project, as well as in-depth guidance on how to integrate tipping points science into diverse ocean management contexts. In early fall, OTP team members hosted a webinar on OpenChannels to introduce the website and its resources to over 150 live viewers from academic institutions, government agencies, and NGOs. 

Most recently, members of the OTP research team welcomed approximately 40 ocean science and management practitioners, representing 6 different management teams, to a hands-on tipping points workshop in Santa Barbara, California. The workshop was designed to orient participants to all the available tipping points resources and guides on the OTP web portal, then help each team build out a strategy for effectively using these tools to address their own management challenges. 

OTP core project leaders led training sessions on topics such as performing tradeoff analyses for efficient management, identifying early warning indicators and thresholds, and communicating about ecosystem tipping points to various audiences. Each management team had an opportunity to explore analyses using real datasets and receive one-on-one advice and assistance from members of the OTP research team, including Carrie Kappel (NCEAS), Ashley Erickson (COS), Rebecca Martone (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, British Columbia), Crow White (CalPoly San Luis Obispo), Mary Donovan (University of Hawaii), Rod Fujita (Environmental Defense Fund), and Larry Crowder (COS). 

At the end of the workshop, each management team produced a conceptual map to help guide their use of tipping points science into their future management plans, and had the opportunity to receive feedback from the entire group. Reflecting on the workshop as a whole, many participants agreed that the three days were incredibly valuable for building their team’s understanding of available science resources and for giving them the time and space to think more strategically about management implementation. The OTP team plans to remain available to assist participants as they begin utilizing OTP resources, and a group check-in is planned at the six-month mark. 

Based on the success of this first workshop—including the sense of community and peer-to-peer learning the workshop cultivated—OTP researchers hope to secure funding for additional workshops in the near future. In the meantime, several OTP spin-off projects are already underway in Hawaii, British Columbia, and elsewhere, which will continue to build on the outcomes of the original collaboration.