The Marches for Science in Washington, D. C., and other cities have been an opportunity to explain how Earth and space science research can address pressing problems in the world today. Credit: Jenny Lunn

To celebrate Earth Day in 2017 and the March for Science held on the same day in locations across the globe, AGU commissioned a collection of Commentaries demonstrating the benefits of Earth and space science research for society.

Galvanized by the momentum of the March(es) for Science, enthusiastic authors wrote articles describing the importance of their science in straight-forward language understandable by the layperson. AGU’s journal editors and publication staff worked within a tight timeframe to review and finalize these pieces, then our publishing partner, Wiley, sped them through the production process for simultaneous release on 20 April 2017.

It was a huge team effort, but the dedication and commitment shown by authors and staff served to reinforce how seriously we took the opportunity to describe how scientific research can contribute to understanding, addressing, and mitigating major challenges facing humankind.

The collection was a great success. The 29 commentaries covered topics ranging from the significance of space weather and the impact of climate change on beaches, to using satellite data to monitor ocean currents, and ways to capture carbon dioxide.

Over the past year, the full text of these articles have been downloaded almost 40,000 times, the most popular being Water and life from snow: A trillion dollar science question, The food-energy-water nexus: Transforming science for society, and Creeping faults: Good news, bad news?

The pieces in the collection boast a combined Altimetric score of 467 (a measure of how many times the articles have been shared via news outlets, blogs, social media and other means), and the individual commentaries have already been cited in the scholarly literature 56 times. These figures speak to the relevance and impact of this collection.

We have decided to make Earth and Space Science is Essential for Society a living collection and will be adding new commentaries over time. To celebrate the 2018 March for Science, we have added 15 more articles, all of which present further evidence of how research in these fields can contribute insights into pressing social, environmental, and economic issues.

Some of the new commentaries explore how land use change effects flooding and the impacts of living near livestock farms on human health, early warning systems for catastrophic fires and monitoring changing conditions in the high Arctic, mining resources on the deep seafloor and communicating climate change risks.

All content in the Earth and Space Science is Essential for Society collection is free to read, download and share.

Jenny Lunn, Director, and Paige Wooden, Senior Program Manager, Publications, American Geophysical Union; email:


Lunn, J.,Wooden, P. (2018), Societal impacts collection continues to grow, Eos, 99, Published on 18 April 2018.

Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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