Berkeley Lab

The power of connected and coordinated science

Biogeoscience is an interdisciplinary field, meaning it relates to multiple branches of knowledge. ICON principles are needed to address global problems – however, various challenges hinder ICON in biogeosciences, such as cultural and institutional barriers that prevent data sharing and cross-border collaborations. Scientists recommended short- and long-term solutions based on actions people can take to break these barriers.

The Science

Many environmental challenges such as climate change are global in scope and surpass national boundaries (Figure 1). These challenges involve local-to-global ecosystem processes (e.g., carbon or nitrogen cycling) that require observations across spatial scales. Tackling these grand challenges requires actions that are Integrated, Coordinated, Open, and Networked (ICON). A team of scientists lists several opportunities for ICON science, including organized experimentation and field observation across global sites to advance science and social progress.

The Impact

Biogeoscience requires multiscale global data and joint international community efforts to tackle environmental challenges. However, several technical, institutional, and cultural hurdles have remained major roadblocks toward scientific progress. ICON science aims to address these challenges and create transferable knowledge. In this article, researchers combine three related commentaries about the state of ICON science. They discuss the need to reduce geographical bias in data for enhancing scientific progress. The team identified actions people can take such as engaging local stakeholders across the globe, incentivizing collaborations, and developing training and workshops to advance biogeosciences.


Researchers combined three independent commentaries about the state of ICON principles and discussed the opportunities and challenges of adopting them. Each commentary focuses on a different topic: (a) Global collaboration, technology transfer, and application, (b) Community engagement, community science, education, and stakeholder involvement, and (c) Field, experimental, remote sensing, and data research and application. To implement ICON principles in biogeosciences, the team calls for a suite of short and long-term actions, with an approach toward capacity building, cultural shifts, breaking barriers through reduced entry costs, building research networks, and promoting community engagement with open and fair research practices. They also suggest developing methods and instrumentation to confront global challenges and solve key questions in biogeosciences.


Dwivedi, D., Santos, A. L. D., Barnard, M. A., Crimmins, T. M., Malhotra, A., Rod, K. A., et al. (2022). Biogeosciences perspectives on Integrated, Coordinated, Open, Networked (ICON) science. Earth and Space Science, 9, e2021EA002119. DOI: 10.1029/2021EA002119