In December 2013, UC Press’s mission-driven, trans-disciplinary, open-access journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene published its first article, ushering in its motto, “Open Science for Public Good.” In this blog post we pause to reflect and take note of some of the publication highlights from the journal’s first ten-plus years.


A carbon budget for the Amundsen Sea Polynya, Antarctica: Estimating net community production and export in a highly productive polar ecosystem

Knowledge Domain: Ocean Science

This research article from PL Yager et al.–part of Elementa’s ASPIRE: The Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition Special Feature–integrates much of the work done under the NSF-supported Amundsen Sea Polynya International Research Expedition (ASPIRE) in austral summer 2010–2011, and helped launch Elementa’s Ocean Science domain as an important venue for publishing complex interdisciplinary research.

Related Content:

Special Feature: Understanding the Trajectory and Implication of a Changing Southern Ocean: The Need for an Integrated Observing System

Carrying capacity of U.S. agricultural land: Ten diet scenarios

Knowledge Domain: Sustainability Transitions

This article from Christian J. Peters et al. garnered massive public attention (Altmetric Score: 1,054) for a simulation model calculating human carrying capacity under ten varying human diet scenarios–ranging from current consumption practices to a 100% vegan diet–and the newsworthy implication that the carrying capacity of a vegan diet scenario was lower than two of the “healthy omnivore” diet scenarios. This influential report has inspired ongoing investigation into the links between agriculture and human diets.

Related Content:

Forum: New Pathways to Sustainability in Agroecological Systems

Imaginary politics: Climate change and making the future

Knowledge Domain: Sustainability Transitions

The second most-cited article in the Sustainability Transitions domain, this paper demonstrates Elementa’s ability to bridge multiple disciplines–in this case bringing the humanities into conversation with science and social science. Here, the author Manjana Milkoreit uses ecological science fiction to theorize what she describes as climate imaginaries: visions that shape power and agency in climate change.

Related Content:

Special Feature: Envisioning Sustainable Transitions

Major impacts of climate change on deep-sea benthic ecosystems

Knowledge Domain: Ocean Science

Relative environmental changes at the deep seafloor in the year 2100. Relative change (%) in dissolved oxygen (mL L–1) and seafloor POC flux (mg C m–2 d–1) conditions that could be seen at the deep (> 200 m) seafloor by 2100 relative to present-day conditions.

Though poorly understood, the deep sea encompasses the largest ecosystems on Earth. This highly-cited (224 citations) review article from Andrew K. Sweetman et al. lays out the foundations of our understanding of an important subject–and one with increasing salience given the increased commercial interest in deep-sea mining.

Related content:

Deep-Sea Mining of Polymetallic Nodules: Environmental Baselines and Mining Impacts from the Surface to the Seafloor

Special Feature: Tropospheric Ozone Assessment Report (TOAR): Global Metrics for Climate Change, Human Health and Crop/Ecosystem Research

Knowledge Domain: Atmospheric Science

Tropospheric ozone is a greenhouse gas and pollutant detrimental to human health and crop and ecosystem productivity. Since 1990, a large portion of the anthropogenic emissions that react in the atmosphere to produce ozone has shifted from North America and Europe to Asia, where ozone monitoring–in developing nations and remote regions of the world–has been limited, leaving the research community struggling to maintain an up-to-date assessment of ozone in the troposphere.

The very highly-cited TOAR special feature, guest edited by Alastair Lewis, represents the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry‘s (IGAC) community-wide effort to address this knowledge gap, quantifying tropospheric ozone in a rapidly changing world.

Related Content:

Tropospheric Ozone Assessment Report: Present-day distribution and trends of tropospheric ozone relevant to climate and global atmospheric chemistry model evaluation

Image from the Gene Editing the Food System Special Feature. Illustration by Kelsey King; reused with permission from Ensia.

Democratizing CRISPR? Stories, practices, and politics of science and governance on the agricultural gene editing frontier

Knowledge Domain: Sustainability Transitions

This paper exemplifies the kind of critical scholarship on sustainability transitions that Elementa has increasingly become known for. Part of Elementa’s groundbreaking Gene Editing the Food System Special Feature, in this article author and co-Guest Editor Maywa Montenegro de Wit explores how gene editing is being portrayed as a more democratic approach to crop innovation, and critically evaluates whether this is actually the case.

Detail from the The World of Underground Ecology in a Changing Environment Special Feature. Drawing by Camille E. Defrenne.

Fungal community and functional responses to soil warming are greater than for soil nitrogen enrichment

Knowledge Domain: Ecology and Earth Systems

Soil fungi are key regulators of forest carbon cycling and their responses to global change have effects that ripple throughout ecosystems. In this study from Mark Anthony et al.–Part of Elementa’s The World of Underground Ecology in a Changing Environment Special Feature–researchers analyzed fungal community response to warming and nitrogen addition at Harvard University’s 4,000 acre Harvard Forest laboratory & classroom, showing that warming and nitrogen enrichment both had significant impacts on fungi, and signaling the implications these changes could have for carbon storage in soil.

A global atlas of artificial light at night under the sea

Knowledge Domain: Ocean Science

The impacts of artificial light at night (ALAN) on marine ecosystems have emerged as a focus for ecological light pollution research, yet the global prevalence of ALAN in underwater marine ecosystems is unknown. T. J. Smyth et al.’s groundbreaking research here has brought widespread attention to artificial light as anthropogenic pollution in marine environments, helping close this knowledge gap by providing an ingenious atlas of its global occurrence–as well as a unique teaching tool.

Tree-ring recorded variations of 10 heavy metal elements over the past 168 years in southeastern China

Knowledge Domain: Ecology and Earth Systems

Heavy metal pollution is a serious concern in China’s urban areas. In this article from Elementa’s Pan-Pacific Anthropocene Special Feature, Shiyin Chen et al. measure concentrations of metals in tree rings–a good indicator of human activity in the region–in order to document changes in pollutants and industry over the past 168 years in southeastern China.

Polarstern in ice. Credit: Markus Rex

Special Feature: The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC)

Knowledge Domains: Atmospheric Science, Ocean Science

Driven by a warming planet, the Arctic climate system is undergoing dramatic changes, with impacts that ripple throughout the world, affecting everything from global shipping and commerce to international relations, from resource development to weather events and wildfires–the changing Arctic has global implications that affect us all. However the processes driving these changes are poorly understood, and are not well represented by current climate models.

The year-long, $160 million, multidisciplinary MOSAiC expedition aboard the icebreaker Polarstern sought to observe and explain the many processes driving the Arctic climate system; Elementa’s The Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate Special Feature, guest edited by a stellar team of scientists including Marcel Nicolaus, Matthew Shupe, and Benjamin Rabe, is Elementa’s ongoing compendium of research documenting the MOSAiC expedition’s work.

Related content:

Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Snow and sea ice

Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Atmosphere

Overview of the MOSAiC expedition: Physical oceanography

Quantifying the impact of future extreme heat on the outdoor work sector in the United States

Knowledge Domain: Sustainability Transitions

In another instance of the Sustainability Transitions domain’s publishing on topics of urgent public concern, the author team of Rachel Licker, Kristina Dahl, and John Abatzoglou address an increasingly pressing environmental and social issue: extreme heat and humidity, and their effects on the future of outdoor work. This exemplary collaboration between academics and practitioners quantifies the exposure of the US outdoor workforce to extreme heat and the associated earnings at risk under different emissions scenarios and, for the first time, different potential adaptation measures.


Submitting to Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene

For manuscript submissions, please review our submission guidelines. Elementa operates under an Article Publication Charge (APC) publication model, with waivers available for under-funded researchers as well as for faculty, staff, and students of the University of California system who are corresponding authors on Elementa papers. If you would like to propose a Special Feature or Forum as a guest editor or co-Guest Editor, please review our Special Features Guidelines.

AcknowledgementsUC Press and the editors and staff of Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene would also like to acknowledge BIOONE as Elementa’s founding publisher, as well as previous Elementa Editors-in-Chief Oliver Chadwick, Michael Chang, and Anne Kapuscinski.


Open Science for Public Good

Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene is a trans-disciplinary, open-access journal committed to the facilitation of collaborative, peer-reviewed research. With the ultimate objective of accelerating scientific solutions to the challenges presented by this era of human impact, it is uniquely structured into distinct knowledge domains, and gives authors the opportunity to publish in one or multiple domains, helping them to present their research and commentary to interested readers from disciplines related to their own.

Editors-in-Chief:
Steven Allison, Jody W. Deming, Detlev Helmig, Alastair Iles

Impact Factor: 4.7
online.ucpress.edu/elementa
Twitter: @elementascience

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