Proposal: Geoscience

Rename to:

Earth Sciences


Geoscience has connotations of geology and geography (all to do with the surface of the planet, or what's under it. This could potentially turn off oceanographers or atmosphere scientists. (also, Geography is out of scope).

Earth sciences is a common department/faculty name for university departments that include geology, atmospheric science, and oceanography. It doesn't explicitly include environmental sciences, but it certainly implicitly includes most parts of environmental science that aren't biology of ecology-related (for which we already have biology.SE).

This is also an alternative to the name proposed on the merge discussion: Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences. I believe Earth Sciences is better, because it is more concise, less tautological (the atmosphere is surely part of the earth), and less ambiguous (biology isn't even potentially included).

  • 1
    Thanks @EnergyNumbers, fixed.
    – naught101
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 0:17
  • 2
    I down-voted because I disagree with the change, I understand from this question that area51 works like meta in this respect.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 21:42
  • @gerrit: Fair enough. I wasn't aware of the point you made in the in the "no" answer. At my universities (in australia), all space and solar sciences come under the physics department, and are quite separate from earth sciences. I actually prefer it that way, but I can see why some might not. (Also, 'geo-' means 'Earth'.. wtf would space and planetary sciences come under 'geoscience"? etymologically, the two terms are basically identical...)
    – naught101
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 23:23
  • I'm doing atmospheric remote sensing related to clouds, and I'm formally part of space technology. This is not unique. Space and atmospheric sciences are quite often at the same university department, NASA and German DLR do a lot of atmospheric sciences too. I agree that it makes little sense etymology, but those who study the surface of Mars are still geologists, not areologists. The Geosciences field has this established meaning in the scientific community, whether it makes etymological sense or not...
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 7:44
  • @gerrit: I think it might be worth opening a separate discussion around whether space sciences are included, or what the limits are. At the moment, the scope (as defined in the blurb) doesn't include them. As I say, personally I think it's a separate field, but it would be good to get a broader straw-poll of community views.
    – naught101
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 10:51
  • 2
    -1 I disagree with the proposed name change. Geoscience is a broad church that encompasses more than just the "Earth"-related processes/systems. The broader the remit (whilst remaining somewhat focussed) the more likely the site will move on from the Definition phase on Area51. Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 11:11
  • @naught101 Good idea. Done.
    – gerrit
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 11:44

3 Answers 3



It's a community wiki, add your reasons here.

  • The existing Geoscience proposal had after 9 months only garnered 39 followers. Given the two-year timeout on new-site proposals, an expanded Earth Sciencse proposal is unlikely to make it through commitment within the remaining 15 months: it would be better to start a new proposal now, and try to get existing followers of the various related proposals to join the new one.

  • Geoscience is broader than Earth Sciences. It includes space and planetary sciences, solar physics, etc. Just look at the vast range of topics covered by the American Geosciences Union and the European Geosciences Union.

  • 1
    @EnergyNumbers: good point, but it seems pretty hard to get people to notice changes like this sometimes (I've tried commenting on some of the appropriate answers in the closed meteorology, suggesting they move their questions here, only one responded). Is there a legitimate way of notifying subscribers of related groups?
    – naught101
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 0:20
  • 2
    Can I point out here that AGU is the American Geophysical Union, not the American Geosciences Union ?
    – awiedmer
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 3:39
  • And the EGU is the European Geophysical Union Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 23:37


It's a community wiki, add your reasons here.

  • The proposal already exists and has followers and sample questions, so it gives a kernel to build on

I've changed the name to Earth Science largely because we now have three places for asking planetary science questions outside of Earth:

  • Physics:

    Explanations of observed physical or astronomical phenomena

  • Space Exploration:

    Science discovered by space probes

  • Astronomy:

    Planetary Science and Celestial mechanics

Astronomy further notes:

Earth science, unless directly related to phenomena observable on other celestials, Solar system in general of which Earth is a constituent part, or as an origin of observational astronomy where its movement, local and global phenomena might affect observations and measurements in any way, is off-topic on Astronomy but can be asked on Physics now or Geoscience once this Stack Exchange site proposal reaches public beta.

Earth Science is a name intended to focus the site on the topic space that is unique to the site: geology, oceanography, meteorology, climatology, and environmental studies. All of these (with the possible exception of the last) have application on other planets and I hope people will ask such questions. But what makes this proposal distinctive is our home planet's amazing combination of a rocky surface, pockets of water, an atmospheric shield, and life infusing all three layers.

So my suggested scope:

  • Physics—theoretical understanding of physical systems including those on Earth.
  • Space Exploration—practical application of physics to discover the universe outside of Earth.
  • Astronomy—understanding of physical systems outside of Earth.
  • Earth Science—understanding of physical systems on Earth.

Some questions might be ontopic on all four sites and that's ok. But I hope that Earth Science will develop its own culture and approach to questions that will make it stand out from the crowd. It should certainly be more practical in orientation than Physics and more grounded (sorry!) than Astronomy or Space Exploration.

  • Although I proposed the change, way back, I'm not sure that even I agree with it any more, and there was clearly opposition to the idea (10 votes for no change, 1 vote for change). "Geoscience" is literally a direct synonym for "earth science" - it's science about the earth (it doesn't mean planetary science). So I don't think any of your reasoning is applicable to only one of the two.
    – naught101
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 0:01
  • However, it does appear that "Earth Science" is slightly more popular, except in geology-heavy countries, like Australia (which goes against what I thought when I first posted this... WTF..). See also the discussion on whether to include planetary sciences.
    – naught101
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 0:04

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