Image modified from Moonscape by Alvaro Folhas (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)
There is no doubt that 2016 was packed full of exciting, insightful and informative blog posts. An impressive 360 posts were published across the EGU’s official blog, GeoLog, as well as the network and division blogs!
In December, to celebrate the excellent display of science writing across the network and division blogs, we launched the EGU Blogs competition. From a list of posts selected by our blog editors, we invited you, the EGU Blogs readers, to vote for your favourite post of 2016. After a little over three weeks of voting, the winners are finally in!
Without further ado, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to the Cryosphere Blog, who take this year’s crown, with a 58% share of the votes, for their post following the journey of a snowflake! From the water vapour in a cloud to the snowman in your garden, find out what leads to the complex structure you can see on in the image below!
Snowflakes viewed with a low temperature scanning electron microscope (SEM). [ Image Credit : Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture via Wikimedia]
All the posts entered into the competition are worthy of a read too, so head over to the poll and click on the post titles to learn about a variety of topics: from the fate of Fukushima Iodine-129 in rain and groundwater, to exploring whether letters of recommendation are the key to the leaky pipeline in academia and how common soft sediment structures like slumps and flames form.
If the start of a new year, with its inevitable resolutions, along with the range and breadth of posts across the EGU Blogs have inspired you to try your hand at a little science writing then remember all the EGU Blogs welcome (and encourage!) guest posts. Indeed, it is the variety of guest posts, in addition to regular features, which makes the blogs a great read! If you would like to contribute to any of the network, divison blogs or GeoLog, please send a short paragraph detailing your idea to the EGU Communications Officer, Laura Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps a bold claim, but at over 4,000 km away from Australia and 4,200 km from South Africa, Heard Island is unquestionably hard to reach.
The faraway and little know place is part of a group of volcanic islands known as HIMI (comprised of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands), located in the southwest Indian Ocean. Shrouded in persistent bad weather and surrounded by the vast ocean, Heard Island, the largest of the group, was first sighted by the merchant vessel Oriental in 1853.
Its late discovery and inaccessibility mean Heard Island is largely undisturbed by human activity (some research, surveillance, fishing and shipping take place on the island and it’s surrounding waters). It boasts a rich fauna and flora: seals, invertebrates, birds and seals call it home, as do hardy species of vegetation which grow low to the ground to avoid the fierce winds which batter the island.
Geologically speaking the islands are pretty unique too. They are the surface exposure of the second largest submarine plateau in the world, the Kerguelen Plateau. Limestones deposited some 45–50 million years ago began the process which saw the emergence of the islands from the ocean floor. Ancient volcanic activity followed, accumulating volcanic materials, such as pillow lavas and volcanic sediments, up to 350m thick. For the last million years (or less) Heard Island has been dominated by volcanism, giving rise to the 2745m tall Big Ben and 700m tall Mt. Dixon. Eruptions and volcanic events have been observed on the island since 1947. Much of the recent volcanism in the region has centered around McDonald island, which has grown 40 km in area and 100 m in height since the 1980s.
As the group of islands provides a remarkable setting, where geological processes and evolution (given that large populations of marine birds and mammals numbering in the millions, but low species diversity) can be observed in in real time, UNESCO declared HIMI a World Heritage Site back in 1997.
If you pre-register for the 2017 General Assembly (Vienna, 22 – 28 April), you can take part in our annual photo competition! From 1 February up until 1 March, every participant pre-registered for the General Assembly can submit up three original photos and one moving image related to the Earth, planetary, and space sciences in competition for free registration to next year’s General Assembly! These can include fantastic field photos, a stunning shot of your favourite thin section, what you’ve captured out on holiday or under the electron microscope – if it’s geoscientific, it fits the bill. Find out more about how to take part at http://imaggeo.egu.eu/photo-contest/information/.
Meet Beatriz, who's short film was voted the winning entry of the 2016 Communicate Your Science Video Competition. Credit: Jordi Cortés.
If you’ve not heard about ourCommunicate Your Science Video Competitionbefore itgives early career scientists the chance to produce a video up-to-three-minutes long to share their research with the general public. The winning entry receives a free registration to the General Assembly the following year.
Before we get started, could you introduce yourself and tell our readers a little more about your research?
I am a seismologist mainly studying the Earth structure. I did my PhD on Mexico and its vicinity using a novel approach developed in the last decade. Before, seismologists used to study earthquake signals to infer the inner structure, but now we can also study seismic ambient noise, which is everything on a seismic record… except the earthquake signals! This means we now analyse what used to be thrown away, once considered useless. In this sense, it is like recycling. This has revolutionised the field and opened multiple applications, not only for imaging the Earth interior, but also for monitoring landslides, volcanoes or climate change effects.
Some of our readers may yet not be familiar with the competition, can you tell us a little more about it and what made you decide to take part in the competition?
Yes, the EGU video competition consists on explaining your research to a general audience through a three minute video. Once ready, you submit your video to EGU and disseminate it as much as possible to get people to vote for it . I decided to take part because I was fascinated with the bunch of applications developed from seismic ambient noise and aware of the importance of communicating science to society. This cocktail of thoughts inspired me to create the video.
Watch Beatriz’s winning film, Subtle Whisper of the Earth
Had you filmed any science videos prior to producing ‘Subtle Whisper of the Earth’?
No, never. Only as a teenager I recorded some short, home-made videos for outdoor activities, but nothing related with science. However, in the production of Shubtle Whisper of the Earth I was helped by two professionals: Jordi Cortés, the journalist in charge of the communication at the Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera, ICTJA-CSIC, who filmed and edited the video, and Daniel García (@rocambloguesco), an Earth Sciences communicator who helped me with the script.
What inspired you to make a film about your research and submit the entry to the competition?
Since I finished my PhD I was thinking about making a documentary to show how seismic ambient noise was such a big evolution for seismology. Indeed, I already had some script ideas bubbling in my mind. Then, I found out about the competition through the recently created communication department of my center and, after thinking about it I went for it. I thought it [the video competition} was a great opportunity to make my ideas real.
We can’t go into too much detail here, but how did you go about collecting the footage and turning it into a film?
First, I adapted my original ideas to the length of the video competition specifications. After several iterations, I got the main idea. In parallel, I thought on the story: I needed something common to people, like recycling. I made a script, then Daniel helped me to simplify it from the research realm to society, and I organised it in sequences, duration and film resources. All these steps were the most time-consuming part. Jordi and I organized the “field work” dividing the filming on indoor and outdoor. Since we organized the sequence planning in advance, it took us only one morning shooting indoors and one afternoon outdoors. Jordi’s experience behind the camera and in production helped a lot to get the final video, but we only used user-level material and software for producing and editing.
What’s your top tip for aspiring science filmmakers?
Have a clear idea of the message you want to communicate. Also, you need a story to catch the attention of the audience. Once you have the idea and the story, the next step, how to visually express them, comes easily.
Beatriz preparing materials to be used in the making of her film. Credit: JordiCortés
Which part of the filming process did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed the whole process, but especially two parts: first, the beginning of the creative process, thinking what, why, and how I wanted to communicate the story, imagining the screenshots in my mind. And second, shooting with Jordi was really fun, I enjoyed it a lot, it was like a game.
Would you recommend filmmaking as a way for scientist to reach out to a broad audience?
Sure! When I started I did not think that the video would reach as many people as it did. I was really happy when some friends told me ‘now we know what you do’. Even some colleagues told me that now they understood pretty well what we get from the seismic ambient noise. It is worth it. A short video is a good way to reach a broad audience globally. Being short, specific and visual are good ingredients to grab attention.
Would you recommend others taking part in the Communicate your Science Video Competition?
Yes, of course. It is an enjoyable exercise to communicate your research. The hardest part of the competition is the self-promotion to get votes, but that’s a different story 😉
Has this interview inspired you to go forth and produce a science video? The Communicate Your Science Video Competition is currently open for submissions.
If you are pre-registered to attend the General Assembly in April, go ahead and produce a video with scenes of you out in the field, or at the lab bench showing how to work out water chemistry; entries can also include cartoons, animations (including stop motion), or music videos, – you name it! To submit your video simply email it to Laura Roberts (email@example.com) by 26 February 2017.
For more information about the competition take a look at this blog post. For inspiration, why not take a look at the finalist videos from the 2015 and 2016 editions? For more tips and tricks on how to make a video to communicate your research read an interview with vlogger extraordinaire Simon Clark. We also spoke to Zakaria Ghazoui, winner of the 2015 video competition to as his thoughts on how to make a great video.
The European Union provides almost 75 billion euros of funding through the Horizon 2020 scheme. This money can fund research projects, studentships, post-doctorates and scientific outreach (to name but a few!). The EU is now calling for feedback and comments about the scheme. This month’s GeoPolicy explains how you can have your say.
Essentially, H2020 provides financial support to scientists and businesses wishing to establish projects that overlap with the EU’s policy objectives (promoting excellent science that benefits society). H2020 was introduced in more detail in a previous GeoPolicy post entitled ‘An overview of EU funding for the Earth, atmosphere, and space sciences’. The scheme runs from 2014 to 2020. Now, at this halfway stage, the EU requesting feedback through an online survey.
The objective of the consultation is to collect information from a wide audience on different aspects of the implementation of the Joint Undertakings operating under Horizon 2020.
The survey is open to all and feedback will be used to improve the second half of H2020 and to support discussions currently being conducted on the next EU funding project: FP9 (Framing Programme 9, 2021-2030).
Contributions are particularly sought from researchers, industry, entrepreneurs, innovators and all types of organisations that have participated in Horizon 2020 and in calls for proposals published by the Joint Undertakings in particular.
So, if you have been part of the H2020 process then consider completing the survey. Deadline for complete is the 10th March 2017.