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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The inherent interdisciplinary of the Earth sciences derives from combining aspects of other disciplines when studying the Earth. Though most commonly viewed as providing science-as-knowledge, the Earth sciences can yield greater societal benefit through their nature-directed transdisciplinarity. As an example, paleoflood hydrology involves a relating to the complexities of natural world that overcomes limitations imposed when simplifying reality in order to make predictions. Paleoflood hydrology discovers the natural recordings of ancient (but very real) cataclysmic processes that have the documented ability to cause harm. The commonsense recognition that what has actually happened can indeed happen again provides much more incentive to generate engaged and wise public action than does an abstract prediction of the so-called hundred-year flood. This kind of science differs from that of its constituent disciplines, and it has great potential for making progress on many issues of current societal concern through public education, communication, and guided policy.

Keywords: Earth sciences, education, flood, hydrology, policy, transdisciplinarity

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