Trends In Earth and Space Science

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is an international scientific society dedicated to promoting discovery in Earth and space science for the benefit of humanity. Global changes, both scientific and societal, have resulted in a number of recent and emerging trends in the Earth and space sciences.

To help identify, understand and begin to prepare for these trends, in early 2014 AGU distributed a survey to more than 55,000 individuals, including AGU members, representatives from other scientific societies, funding agencies, and chairs of relevant disciplinary surveys. This work was overseen by the Scientific Trends Task Force, operating as a subset of AGU’s Council.
Cover of AGU's 2014 Scientific Trends Survey Results Report
The survey data was classified into broad themes and categories that the task force considered, in addition to information from other sources, in their final analysis. The results of that analysis was then summarized to create the Scientific Trends Survey Results summary report. In addition to being an informative service for the broader scientific community, the summary report is intended to be used as a guide for AGU’s program planning and operations.

The report identifies 12 themes:

  • Utilizing and managing big data sets
  • Advances in modeling
  • Characterizing, reducing, and communicating uncertainty
  • Quantifying variability
  • The increase in inter-, multi-, and trans-disciplinarity
  • Climate change
  • The growing demand for science for society
  • The increase in globalization of science
  • New and innovative tools and methodologies
  • New funding sources and mechanisms
  • Increased interest in planetary and space sciences
  • Increased interest in life in extreme environments

It also identifies several challenges and opportunities, including:

  • Declining funding
  • Preserving Earth resources; risk reduction
  • Increased politicization of science
  • Communicating science to nonscientists
  • Growth of inter-/multi-/transdisciplinary science

Download a copy of the Scientific Trends Survey Results summary report