The Big Debate: How can we solve geomorphology's communication problem?
In this debate, I contest the notion that geomorphology is generally poorly communicated, despite the propensity for disaster imagery and related news headlines to dominate media coverage and interest in the public sphere. I describe some ways that communication of the real-world importance and application of geomorphology has worked well when engaging with other scientists, professionals, industry partners, conservation officers, water and land managers, landowners, and traditional owners. Nevertheless, I point out that there are still significant hurdles to overcome when communicating geomorphology to policy and legal experts, and to the general public. To enhance outreach and understanding of geomorphology, I maintain that the communication of geomorphology should follow the rule of 'SOS': it should be situated (appropriate time, place, and context), open (honest) and succinct (short and meaningful). Further, when communicating geomorphology we should avoid 'LOL' moments: that is, launching into lessons, providing out-of-touch opinions or advice, and/or lengthy explanations. Examples from collaborative research and engagement in the Macquarie Marshes (Australia) highlight the importance of meaningful two-way communication for real-world impacts and conservation outcomes for rivers and wetlands.
Big Debate Panelists: Mary Bourke, Suzie Maas, Tim Ralph, Dewi Roberts, Julian Ruddock; Chair: Stephen Tooth.