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Researchers and stakeholders address coastal vulnerability and freshwater security (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Belmont Forum Synthesis Workshop

The Belmont Forum is a consortium of research funders that have targeted funds toward research that actively integrates stakeholders into a co-design/co-development process with researchers. It is committed to fostering solutions to global sustainability challenges through innovative transdisciplinary research. On 10-12 December 2016, the Belmont Forum Synthesis Workshop was convened by the Belmont Forum and facilitated by FutureEarth Coasts and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science in San Francisco, CA. Eleven of the thirteen funded project teams from around the globe addressing complex coastal vulnerability and freshwater security issues were present. This newsletter represents a synthesis of the results of the 13 funded projects, revealing real solutions for informed and deliberative decision making about sustainable resource use and development. The results provide further evidence that intense stakeholder engagement to co-develop locally based solutions is an approach that should be continued, expanded, and refined. This Workshop summary provides a brief overview of each project, identifies common themes that emerged, and provides recommendations for future Belmont Forum projects. 




“This is your shield… this is your estuary” Building community and coastal resilience to a changing Louisiana coastline through restoration of key ecosystem functions (Report) Permanent Link

Carruthers TJB, Hemmerling SA, Barra M, Saxby TA, Moss L

The coastal communities of Louisiana are highly vulnerable to coastal change, and the potential benefits of protecting, restoring, and enhancing intact ecosystems are particularly important. However, there is a current lack of synthesized information on potential benefits of ecosystem-based restoration options at a parish, basin, or coastwide scale.

This synthesis report aims to provide key insights and communication tools that can assist in filling the knowledge gap through development of synthesized information on the potential of ecosystem-based adaptation approaches to build community resilience in coastal Louisiana, combining both technical scientific and community input.

IAN Report Card 2015 (Report card) Permanent Link

The aim of this report card was to complete IAN's first annual report. IAN staff reflected back on accomplishments from 2015 and developed indicators in 3 categories: social impacts, ecological outcomes, and partnership satisfaction. IAN received an overall grade of a B+.

Report cards and system dynamics modelling (Newsletter) Permanent Link

A novel approach to advance management and health of river basins

This newsletter summarizes the outcomes of a workshop exploring the linkages and potential benefits of combining river basin health report cards and system dynamics modelling. These two approaches have traditionally been utilized separate from each other, however merging the two will lead to better management of the world's river basins. The ultimate goal of the workshop with UMCES, WWF, and LHI, along with other participants at this workshop was to develop tools and strategies to better manage and conserve the world's limited freshwater resources. The workshop was held November 9-11, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland, United States.

Ecological Drought in the Southeast United States (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Balancing competing demands for water supplies

The Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and their managing organization, the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey, have chosen the emerging climate science field of Ecological Drought as a research focus area. This newsletter highlights the outcomes of a two-day workshop held in Raleigh, North Carolina as part of a series of meetings at each of the nation’s eight CSCs. These workshops are aimed at collating our existing knowledge of the ecological impacts, resistance, and recovery from drought.

Upper Mississippi River Conference 2016 Action Agenda (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Raise the Grade

On Oct. 13–14, 2016, River Action, in association with the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, hosted the ninth annual Upper Mississippi River Conference, entitled “Raise the Grade,” in Moline, Illinois. The conference brought together over 200 participants from 95 organizations to develop solutions to overcome the many challenges identified in the 2015 America’s Watershed Initiative (AWI) Report Card for the Mississippi River watershed.

The major achievement of the 2016 UMR Conference was in bringing different river stakeholders together to open dialog and discuss issues across sectors to develop the Action Agenda to improve conditions in the Upper Mississippi River Basin. This Action Agenda will serve as the basis for maintaining communications across sectors and approaching strategies for “Raising the Grade” through multi-sector education and outreach. An updated report on the Action Agenda will be given at successive conferences, starting in 2017.

Assessing the health of the Indian River Lagoon (Newsletter) Permanent Link

The Indian River Lagoon on the east coast of Florida is a biodiverse ecosystem of temperate and tropical habitats with significant aesthetic, social, and economic value. However, development pressures have been increasing for decades with 2016 being a year of record algal blooms and fish kills. A January 2016 workshop gathering of scientists, resource managers, and citizens is the first step towards creating a ecosystem health report card in order to document the progress or failure in restoration efforts of this estuary.

Ecological drought in the South Central United States (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Time is not on our side

The Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers (CSCs) and their managing organization, the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey, have chosen the emerging climate science field of Ecological Drought as a research focus area. This newsletter highlights the outcomes of a two-day workshop held in Norman, Oklahoma, as part of a series of meetings at each of the nation’s eight CSCs. These workshops are aimed at collating our existing knowledge of the ecological impacts, resistance, and recovery from drought.

Yucatan State Coast (Brochure) Permanent Link

A framework for developing a report card (English)

The Yucatan coast of NE Mexico that borders the Gulf of Mexico supports a high biodiversity of plants and animals, as well as important fisheries and tourism activities. However, the region's rapid growth in terms of coastal development is putting immense pressure on these natural resources. IAN staff, Dr. Heath Kelsey and Jane Hawkey, were invited to assist with efforts to develop an ecosystem health report card by Dr. Paulo Salles Afonso de Almeida and Irina Ana Rosa Ize Lema, both of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM). On 4-5 August 2016, a workshop was held at the National Coastal Resilience Laboratory (LANRESC) in Sisal, Mexico, assembling stakeholders and scientists interested in ensuring the sustainability of these coastal resources, and to begin the process of creating an ecosystem health report card.

Costa del Estado de Yucatán (Newsletter) Permanent Link

Marco de trabajo para el desarrollo de una Tarjeta de Reporte

La costa de Yucatán, en el NE de México, que limita con el Golfo de México, apoya una alta biodiversidad de plantas y animales, así como importantes actividades pesqueras y de turismo. Sin embargo, el rápido crecimiento de la región en términos de desarrollo costero está poniendo una inmensa presión sobre estos recursos naturales. El Dr. Paulo Salles Afonso de Almeida e Irina Ana Rosa Ize Lema, de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), invitaron al equipo de IAN-UMCES, Dr. Heath Kelsey y Jane Hawkey, . Del 4 al 5 de agosto de 2016, se realizó un taller en el Laboratorio Nacional de Resiliencia Costera (LANRESC) en Sisal, México, reuniendo interesados y científicos interesados en asegurar la sostenibilidad de estos recursos costeros y comenzar el proceso de creación de un informe de salud ecosistémica tarjeta.

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"Writing crystallizes thought and thought produces action." Paul J. Meyer


A goal of IAN Press is to empower scientists to directly communicate their ideas and concepts. Publications from IAN Press are designed to transform the uninterested to interested; the interested to involved and the involved to engaged.

IAN Press products are designed to be examples of good science communication principles, and the hope is that others will employ these principles so that scientific understanding can be disseminated widely as possible. The production of IAN Press communication publications involves experimentation with communication techniques and, as such, provides various ideas for science communication that can be emulated.

The comparisons and contrasts that IAN Press provides on environmental subjects intend to stimulate scientists, managers, practitioners, policy makers, students and other readers to think more broadly and expansively about the region and issues that they face. The extensive use of visual elements accesses a broader cultural diversity as well, which allow for more global perspectives.

The conclusions and recommendations presented in IAN Press publications are crafted to empower actions, plant seeds of ideas and provide justification for people to take appropriate action to find solutions to environmental problems. The conclusions are made as explicit as possible by employing active titles and featuring them prominently (e.g., front section of books or back cover of newsletters).

On costs

IAN Press does not provide author royalties and the design and layout of the publications conducted by a talented team of Science Communicators is underwritten by various grants and contracts. Marketing is limited to the internet and word-of-mouth, also reducing costs. Thus, the price of IAN Press publications is solely to reimburse the actual printing costs entailed. The intent is to provide the broadest possible readership, thus keeping costs as low as possible is paramount. Typically, full color is used, virtually on every page, which does increase print costs, however, the use of color is a key element in providing accessible information to a wide audience and the lack of author royalties or design/layout charges.

Peer review

IAN Press undertakes a rigorous review process by both peer scientists and resource managers. In addition, Integration and Application Network Science Integrators and Science Communicators read, edit and review all aspects of IAN Press publications, including text, conceptual diagrams, photographs, maps, figures and tables. Many IAN Press publications are multi-authored, and each author contributes to the review and editing of the entire publication. This is not the classical peer review system of a limited number of anonymous reviewers working with an editor to recommend changes, rather a larger number of non-anonymous reviewers that develop consensus on each word, visual element and recommendation. The review process is often accelerated by IAN Press to accommodate timely publication.


IAN Press attempts to be as authorship inclusive as possible and to provide attribution to each visual element. Authorship is not ranked or ordered, and the credibility of the IAN Press product should be based on the scientific data presented and the collective effort of a multiple of contributors, both with and without formal academic training.

Science Communicators are the key element in the production of IAN Press documents. They design the layout of the document, obtain and edit the visual elements, designate the amount and style of text, and orchestrate the review and editing process. IAN Press documents are produced using a 'storyboard' approach, in which the central message(s) are identified and various visual elements selected to support the central message(s). This is in contrast to the more traditional method of writing text and adding in visuals subsequently. In video and film production, storyboards are used and the producer is key to assembling the visual elements. Science Communicators serve in an equivalent role in terms of assembling all the pieces that go into the publication.


IAN Press relies extensively on color for photographs, maps, conceptual diagrams, figures and even text and tables to a limited degree. The use of color allows for an increased data density and provides a bigger visual impact considering the amount of the human brain devoted to visual discrimination of colors. Color allows for greater discrimination of visual elements and in data presentation, a closer juxtaposition of different elements and greater comparative utility. The preponderance of color printers and the ability of electronic versions to be displayed in color promote the inexpensive dissemination of full color documents. In order to help color-blind people compensate, an effort is made to provide other visual clues in graphics, such as symbols with different shapes or map delineations with different shading or texture, but some of the visual impact will be compromised.


IAN Press does not target a narrow, specific audience, rather attempts to be as inclusive as possible. As the world becomes more specialized, with marketing forces that promote highly targeted advertising campaigns, IAN Press products attempt to reach the broadest audience possible. IAN Press attempts to raise the bar rather than dumb down the message by using non-technical language, defining all terms and reducing acronym use. By providing synthesis, visualizations and context, we feel that relatively sophisticated concepts can be grasped by a non-technical audience. In fact, science has become highly specialized and often the language, tools and approaches used in various scientific disciplines are relatively incomprehensible to specialists in other disciplines. Thus, one audience of IAN Press is scientists from other specialties to encourage inter-disciplinary thinking and approaches.

Why use print media?

With the growing popularity of electronic media, the carbon footprint involved in producing and distributing paper products, and the ability to provide infinite resources via the web, it could be argued that IAN Press should disseminate entirely via electronic means. While IAN Press provides downloadable, web accessible materials, IAN Press continues to produces written products for the following reasons:

  1. There is rigor and discipline required in producing science communication products that have limited 'real estate', that, is limited amounts of space to convey a message. A paper product maintains focus, while web links can lead to tangential issues. The priority setting required to establish the final layout and include various communication elements is important in conveying information. Fixed 'real estate' forces condensation, synthesis and integration. Every visual element is uniquely created for the purpose of conveying the specific information intended, rather than repurposed from other sources.
  2. The written product invites non-linear reading, and a quick scan allows readers to delve into the visual elements most interesting to them. If a reader is most attracted to photographs, maps, conceptual diagrams, or figures, they can migrate to these elements and the figure legends should be self explanatory. Alternatively, if reading text is the preferred way of obtaining information, the text is designed to be self sufficient. The juxtaposition of text and various visual elements also conveys important information, something that can be lost via hyperlinks on the web. In addition, electronic books with the current technology do not support color graphics.
  3. Since various IAN Press products are intended to inform a broad community from policy makers to the general public, the weight of scientific support that can be marshaled can be a factor in empowering people to action. In order to make an impact, the difference between hundreds of web pages and hundreds of printed pages is one reason to provide print versions of IAN products. In addition, internet access is not equally applied globally or socially, and in some societies and sectors of society, a written product provides a more accessible source, particularly through libraries and schools.
  4. Printed materials provide a 'time stamp', a fixed point of time when the data are assembled and the conclusions are reached. Rather than constantly updating the data and conclusions, drawing the line in the sand as to what is known at a particular time point is what printed products do. The shelf life of science communication products should be somewhat limited due to the increased scientific understanding based on ongoing research, yet the record of what is known, and when it is known, provides an important archival body of information.
  5. "The product drives the collaborative process"; in that the science communication product forces an intensely collaborative process of obtaining and refining visual elements, drafting and editing text, and experimenting with layout and design. While this collaborative process can be conducted with the production of web materials, print deadlines are a good way to insure timely delivery. In addition, to obtain buy-in from many scientists whose training and experience are in producing printed papers and books, printed copies are often necessary.