Tailored communication strategies are critical for optimizing the impact of scientific research. The COS communication team has focused on three key approaches to amplify the reach and impact of our research: (1) Link release of our science publications to timely and relevant events, news items, or topics; (2) coordinate with research partners and their communications teams; and (3) tailor our message to best match the targeted audience or media platform. Following the success of the Deep Seabed Mining publication released just before the International Seabed Authority meeting in 2015, COS and our partners jointly rolled out the "Bright Spots" research on coral reefs (on the cover of Nature) in advance of the International Coral Reef Symposium in June, 2016, and the Future of Antarctica Marine Protected Areas research in Science in advance of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources meeting (CCAMLR) in October – both of which generated tremendous interest from the media, issue stakeholders, and policymakers.
In June 2016, the Presidents of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands held a Summit with scientific experts—including several faculty members from Stanford University—during the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium. Out of the summit, the three presidents released a call to action requesting immediate assistance from the scientific community to improve coral reef protection. In response, a group of leading coral reef scientists from around the world, including Professors Larry Crowder, Steve Palumbi and Rob Dunbar of Stanford University, pledged their support to link science to policy action to better manage and protect coral reefs.
Images of flooded coastal trails and roadways and collapsing seaside cliffs during winter storms in 2016 provided a stark reminder that coastal communities are already experiencing the impacts of rising sea levels. Our researchers are working with local coastal planners to harness the ability of natural habitats to reduce the vulnerability of coastal communities to sea level rise. In 2016, our team scaled up research developed during previous county-level engagements in the central coast of California to inform statewide climate adaptation decisions. Our team developed an approach to link ecosystem service and climate science to land use policy in a way that helps planners evaluate adaptation options. The results are distilled and communicated through an online viewer that directly links science to coastal adaptation land use policy considerations in a format relevant to coastal planners in an effort to advance resilient, science-based coastal planning.
The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Center for Ocean Solutions and key partners sponsored two significant "Uncommon Dialogues" in 2016, bringing together relevant experts to discuss important ocean issues, including:
Improving and updating water quality standards is one of the top recommendations of the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia (OAH) Panel, co-chaired by Stanford researcher Ali Boehm, which released its recommendations in April 2016. State-level solutions are being proposed in revisions to these standards under the Clean Water Act and California’s Ocean Plan. In Fall 2016, The Center for Ocean Solutions, along with agency partners, joined together to host an Uncommon Dialogue to address these new water quality goals. In January 2017, the meeting organizers released a meeting summary report and accompanying e-news article outlining key findings.
In light of California’s ongoing drought and increasing interest in meeting its water needs through desalination of ocean water, Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment, through the Center for Ocean Solutions and Water in the West, collaborated with Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Nature Conservancy to facilitate an Uncommon Dialogue among cross-sector experts on the potential impacts of ocean desalination on coastal and marine ecosystems. Over the course of the dialogue, open discussions regarding desalination revolved around the best available science, current technology, and policy.
MARINE continued to offer a variety of professional development opportunities for its emerging ocean leader audience in 2016. These included workshops, seminars, and panel discussions on topics ranging from diversity, equity, and inclusion to communicating climate change risk and converging art and ocean science. Total attendance for all events in 2016 was over 550 participants. MARINE also held an early career multidisciplinary mixer at the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting in New Orleans, LA, which saw 100 participants network across 50 different institutions and organizations represented at the conference.
In partnership with UC Santa Cruz, MARINE offered the second course in our Wicked Marine Problems course series in Winter 2016: "Multidisciplinary Approaches to Coastal Climate Adaptation." Students explored the skills and techniques relevant for carrying out a substantive, original multidisciplinary research project with a focus on human adaptation to the coastal impacts of climate change. The 10 week course involved 17 undergraduate and graduate participants from three MARINE institutions, as well as 12 expert speakers from around the region, including those from NGO and agency groups.
The Ocean Tipping Points project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, completed its fourth and final year of initial funding in 2016. The project team synthesized the latest science and are applying new tools that incorporate our growing body of knowledge on ecosystem thresholds in case studies focused on specific management opportunities. In the Main Hawaiian Islands and Haida Gwaii, British Columbia the Ocean Tipping Points team is working closely with local scientists, managers, and stakeholders to make tipping point science and tools applicable and accessible to current management issues. This information will help managers avoid undesirable tipping points, monitor using early warning indicators, prioritize management actions, and evaluate progress toward ecosystem objectives. To this end, the Ocean Tipping Points communication team developed a web portal—available online in spring 2017—to make all of the data, resources, and guidance produced throughout the project accessible to marine managers and other stakeholders in need of the latest tools to manage a changing ocean.
In early October 2016, Stanford doctoral student Cassandra Brooks and Center for Ocean Solutions Science Director Larry Crowder published a policy article in the journal Science entitled “Science-based management in decline in the Southern Ocean.” The timing was strategic; just days after the paper was published, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) convened their annual meeting. For the sixth time since 2012, the proposed Ross Sea marine protected area (MPA) was brought to the table for consideration—but this time, the motion passed, resulting in the establishment of the largest MPA in the world.
Our eDNA project team and research collaborators have continued their pioneering work using a genetic sampling technique that is revolutionizing the way we look at biodiversity in the ocean. Our work is currently funded by BOEM, NASA, and NOAA as part of the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON). In September, the eDNA team spent ten days aboard the R/V Western Flyer to continue eDNA sample collections for the Monterey Bay Long Term Monitoring Program, the results of which are adding to our understanding of the biodiversity and community dynamics in Monterey Bay over the last decade.
The Bright Spots research project was one of the largest global studies of its kind, a collaboration of researchers from around the world—including from COS—who synthesized data from over 6,000 reef surveys in 46 countries across the globe. In this study, 15 "bright spots" were discovered—places where, against all the odds, coral reefs were doing better than expected. By virtue of the breadth of the survey, researchers identified several social-ecological characteristics that improved the state of coral reef ecosystems.
The Center for Ocean Solutions is excited to release our first episode in our new Series of Solutions video series: The Mentors and the Intern.
This first episode highlights the valuable role that nature provides in protecting coastal communities, and follows the story of intern Monica Moritsch as she discovers how her ecology background can directly inform coastal policy.
Natural habitats, such as wetlands and sand dunes, play an important role in protecting coastal communities from climate change impacts including sea level rise, erosion, and storm surge. The Center for Ocean Solutions is working with the Natural Capital Project, city planners, and many other collaborators to develop map-based online tools to help cities across California identify vulnerable coastlines and prioritize the protection of habitats that provide the most protection to these regions.
The Series of Solutions, supported in part by Conservation Media Group, features four ocean research endeavors led by Center for Ocean Solutions or Stanford University researchers. The Series also focuses on the critical role that early career scientists are playing in ocean research, whether through doctoral research, internships, or fellowships. We hope that this series not only brings to light some of the innovative solutions our researchers are finding to address ocean challenges, but also emphasizes the importance of mentorship, interdisciplinary, and teamwork in scientific research.
Watch the Video on YouTube here
The 2017 Oceans Colloquium is a conference-style event focused on improving science and policy communication and presentation skills. The colloquium will provide participants with the opportunity to develop and practice effective communication skills, while sharing their ocean-related work and interests in diverse and engaging ways.
Join us for a diverse set of activities, including:
Free and open to participants from MARINE's seven partner campuses. Includes morning refreshments, lunch, and afternoon happy hour.
For more information, and to register, visit: http://marineucsc.wixsite.com/2017oceanscolloquium
Stanford marine biologists discover an ancient group of genes in coral species that predict when they are under stress and might bleach. The approach could improve conservation strategies for at-risk coral.