Earth System Science/ESS » Earth System Science/ESS – Payson Stevens

The concept of the Earth as an integrated system of living and non-living elements has very old origins. In the 19th and 20th centuries different emerging scientific disciplines began the process of understanding how these earth spheres (e.g., geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere) interacted and influenced each other. This concept of Earth System Science/ESS evolved in the 1980s when NASA formed a committee of earth scientists, from all these disciplines, to define the formal development of Earth system science. Under Francis P. Bretherton, the Chair of NASA’s ESS Committee, distinguished scientists from the major US science agencies, academia, and industry, produced a series of three ESS reports: ESS: A Preview(1983), ESS: An Overview(1986), and ESS: A Closer View(1988). These reports emphasized the increasing impacts of humans on the earth system and were part of the emerging study of global change and climate impacts resulting from human behavior.

INI was involved with the ESS Committee from the early 1980s and created the ESS branding/graphic standard elements, designed, created the artwork, and produced the three publications. Paul Blanchard, a consultant to NASA, developed the text working with ESS Committee members. Stevens and Blanchard, helped to conceptually develop the famous Bretherton flow-chart diagrams, depicting Earth system processes operating at different times scales (Decades to Centuries; Thousands to Millions of Years).

During the early 1980s, digital desktop printing technologies were just beginning and INI worked with the early software and hardware companies on their beta-versions. It is believed that the 208-page book, ESS: A Closer View, was the first book to be completely designed and integrate desk-top publishing book elements going directly to digital film for printing. Monarch Litho (Los Angeles) played a pioneering role in helping to refine and push the boundaries of digital printing in its early days.