Sharing the Importance of Ocean Salinity Beyond the Scientific Community

Annette deCharon
Senior Marine Education Scientist

University of Maine

Friday, May. 1, 2015, 3:00pm
Chase 130

The Aquarius satellite mission and Salinity Processes in the Upper-ocean Regional Study (SPURS) are providing the scientific community with new insights into the role seawater salinity plays in the Earth system. Aquarius and SPURS scientists and engineers, working with the University of Maine-based Salinity Public Engagement and Communications team, developed webinars that focused on how these programs’ findings increase knowledge about topics such as the water cycle, ocean circulation, and climate. Direct involvement of research scientists and engineers was key to the success of these efforts. These experts learned how to use interactive concept maps to “deconstruct” scientific content into simpler graphical formats for their presentations. A benefit to webinar participants, presenters, and facilitators was that they honed their critical thinking skills. In addition, the webinars allow people traditionally not represented in science, technology, engineering and math to gain better access to high-quality NASA materials. Post-event audience evaluation data provide valuable feedback on the impacts of sharing the results of ocean salinity research beyond the scientific community.


Annette deCharon's academic background is in earth sciences (B.S. Geology, M.S. Oceanography). Her early professional experience supported the use of space-borne technology to study Earth and other planets. Overseeing outreach efforts for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Earth Science Flight Projects during the 1997-98 El Niño sparked a new focus on multimedia-based science communication. Over the past 15 years, she has focused on piloting and sustaining grant-funded (e.g., NSF Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, COSEE; NASA Aquarius) educational products, software tools, and models for in-person and online interaction. These endeavors have not only broadly disseminated scientific information but also fostered novel interdisciplinary collaborations.