General Assembly

Join us at EGU 2017: Call-for-abstracts is now open!

Join us at EGU 2017: Call-for-abstracts is now open!

From now, up until 11 January 2017, you can submit your abstract for the upcoming EGU General Assembly (EGU 2016).

In addition to established scientists, PhD students and other early career researchers are welcome to submit abstracts to present their research at the conference. Further, the EGU encourages undergraduate and master students to submit abstracts on their dissertations or final-year projects.

The EGU recognises that there are many outstanding students who would benefit from attending and presenting at the General Assembly and, therefore, provides a discounted registration rate to this group. Interested undergraduates can apply to present a poster, talk or PICO presentation on research undertaken in a laboratory setting, on a mapping or field project they’ve been involved in during their degrees, or any other research project of relevance.

Browse through the EGU 2017 sessions. Clicking on ‘please select’ will allow you to search for sessions by Programme Group and submit your abstract to the relevant session either as plain text, LaTeX, or a MS Word document. Further guidelines on how to submit an abstract are available on the EGU 2017 website.

An innovative presentation format – Presenting Interactive Content, better known as PICO – has been implemented at the General Assembly since 2013. PICO sessions bring together the advantages of both oral and poster sessions, allowing authors to present the essence of their work and follow it up with interactive discussion. Please note that some sessions are ‘PICO only’ sessions, meaning you cannot select oral/poster preference. If you are submitting to a PICO only session be sure to check out our PICO guide, for tips on how to prepare your presentation.

The deadline for the receipt of abstracts is 11 January 2017, 13:00 CET. If you would like to apply for financial support to attend the 2017 General Assembly, please submit an application no later than 01 December 2016. We’ll be providing further information about how to apply for travel grants and how they are awarded in a forthcoming post.

EGU 2017 will take place from 23 to 28 April 2017 in Vienna, Austria. For more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2017 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU17 is the conference hashtag) and Facebook.

NB: We strongly recommend booking accommodation for EGU2017 as soon as possible . The congress ECCIMD2017 (10,000 participants) will take place in Vienna at the same time as the EGU2017. In addition, the Vienna City Marathon (40,000 participants) will take place on Sunday, resulting in many hotels being fully booked the night before.

GeoPolicy: Living in a post-factual society and why it’s more important than ever for scientists to engage

GeoPolicy: Living in a post-factual society and why it’s more important than ever for scientists to engage

Last week, the EGU Science Policy Fellow packed her bags and flew to Brussels. Now this wasn’t to sample some of the fine beers Belgium has to offer, but to attend the 2nd International Network on Government Science Advice (INGSA) Conference. This conference, co-organised by INGSA and the European Commission, aimed to discuss the major principles needed for effective science advice to governments, focusing predominantly on the European scale. This month’s GeoPolicy post looks at the main themes and take home messages discussed at the conference.


A post-factual society?

Commissioner Carlos Moedas, in his opening address, described science validity as being under attack from so-called ‘post factual politics’. Events like the UK referendum decision to leave the EU is an example of this, but many others exist throughout Europe and the world: 41% of the French population now believe vaccines are unsafe.

Part of the reason for this shift in distrust towards expert advice is the rapid rise of non-traditional media platforms. More than ever the public are exposed to information from all angles and across multiple platforms. These platforms can spread misinformation (whether willingly or by accident) and therefore the ‘facts’ by themselves may no longer assumed to be correct.

Moedas believes that a more transparent and open approach to science advice can help increase public trust. He stated that people can understand the answers if they understand the process. Then, the public can more accurately judge the facts from the fiction.


So why should we engage?

Science advice to policy is often considered a two-way interaction, between the scientists and the policy makers, however the public are vital in this relationship. Scientists need to engage with both, not just because it furthers their research impact, but also it helps ensure a future for their science. Scientists must involve themselves with correcting this dangerous shift towards ignoring the facts. Democratically elected representatives will act on what are the public’s interests (for fear of not being re-elected if nothing else). So scientists need to make sure their work is communicated effectively and accurately to the public. When the public cares, so do the politicians. Although this is selfish reasoning, a scientist needs to ensure the public cares about their research, otherwise funding may be reallocated to other areas of public interest.

Additionally, the positives of effective science advice to policy are plentiful: capacity building, increased sustainability, society can become safer, the economy improves etc. In the EU, ultimate policy decisions are made by member states who are predominantly diplomats, not scientists. Therefore, effective science advice mechanisms to ensure policy makers learn about science are needed. However, this this is no easy task.


No one size fits all

Multiple approaches to science advice exist across the EU and the world, e.g., chief scientific advisors, national academies, third party organisations, in-house organisations, advisory boards / mechanisms. Several presentations from this conference showed that each situation requires tailoring; no one mechanism will work in every situation and not all mechanisms will work in each situation.

More concrete science-policy mapping is needed to better understand these different mechanisms and to help outside institutions comprehend how they might contribute.


The EU’s Scientific Advice Mechanism

A new Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) has been created to improve science advice transparency within the European Commission. SAM was described in a previous GeoPolicy post, but essentially it comprises a seven-member panel of scientific experts who work closely with the Commission and EU science academies to study scientific topics of societal interest. The network of scientific academies, known as SAPEA, can call upon external experts to contribute to the topics of focus. Currently three topics have been identified: Cybersecurity, Light duty vehicle real-drive CO2 emissions, and Glyphosate.

SAM is in its early stages, being established only a year. Needless to say, the science-policy world is observing its progress and performance with eager eyes.


Tips for communicating to each other

Both scientists and policy workers need better training at understanding the different languages each group speaks. Several tips / suggestions mentioned during the conference are listed below.

For scientists:

“There is an increasing pressure on scientists to deliver and they are now subject to closer public scrutiny. Therefore, scientists cannot take their authority for granted, they need to earn it, especially in polarising situations where public opinion is split” Pearl Dykstra (SAM panel member)

  • Less is more (when explaining science). Can you explain your science in 140 characters? Or pitch your research during a quick conversation in a lift? If so, this gets you a 20 minute meeting with a commissioner / MEP etc.
  • “Scientists should put themselves in shoes of policy makers more often. They need to address societal needs: there is no shortage of these” (Tibor Navaracsics, DG Education, Culture, Youth and Sport).
  • Try to understand the constraints of democracy. Science is only one factor that is considered during policy making.
  • The job of scientists is to explain what is, not what ought to be. Politicians will advocate, scientists must give the facts on which to base advocacy. Both sides need to be aware of their own biases.
  • Engage with both politicians and the public to increase trust.
  • Timing is essential. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) ensures their science advice is given when most needed. For example, disaster response requires warnings / reports / impact maps to be published as soon as possible, the JRC issues these within 2-3 hours.


Tips for policy workers:

  • Anticipate / expect what researchers need (policy-for-science) for them to do effective research.
  • Decrease bias, policy workers need to be open to their need for advice. “We need politicians to trust the science process even if they don’t like the results” (Bernhard Url, European Food Safety Authority).
  • Champion evidence-based policy making as we cannot afford policy mistakes. This can be hard, as it may seem counter intuitive at times.

“Both sides need to create space and time for the science policy dialogue” Yoko Harayama (Cabinet Office for Japan)


What if we fail?

There are many challenges with providing effective mechanisms for science advice to policy. Saruto Ohtake (Cabinet Office for Japan) gave a poignant talk about what the effects can be when this relationship fails.

The 2011 Japanese earthquake, which induced a tsunami and the shutdown of the Fukishima nuclear power plant, killed over 10,000 people. Scientific research was not communicated quickly enough and policy workers failed to ask for advice.

The results of this failure were catastrophic and subsequently, public trust in science dropped 10-20%. Effort on both sides is now needed to restore public trust and to ensure similar events never happen again.

This talk highlighted another reason for why scientists and policy officials need to have an effective and trusted relationship with each other and the public.

Although the conference focused more on the challenges at hand, rather than implementing potential solutions, it still provided much discussion and food-for-thought. Luckily, these topics could be mulled over after the conference with a refreshing blond Belgium beer.

Additional Reading

Principles of science advice to government: key problems and feasible solutions

GeoPolicy: 8 ways to engage with policy makers

Dealing with post normal science and post truth politics

Science and Policy Making: towards a new dialogue website

Educators: Apply now to take part in the 2017 GIFT workshop!

Bathymetry, volcanoes (green triangles), and earthquakes in the Mediterranean area. SubMap: Arnauld Heuret, Jérôme Losq and Serge Lallemand

Bathymetry, volcanoes (green triangles), and earthquakes in the Mediterranean area. SubMap: Arnauld Heuret, Jérôme Losq and Serge Lallemand

The General Assembly is not only for researchers but for teachers and educators with an interest in the geosciences also. Every year the Geosciences Information For Teachers (GIFT) is organised by the EGU Committee on Education to bring first class science closer to primary and high school teachers. The topic of the 2017 edition of GIFT is ‘The Mediterranean’. This year’s workshop is co-organised with the Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and will be taking place on 24–26 April 2017 at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna, Austria.

The Mediterranean is a key region for understanding the complexities and delicate relationships between civilization, natural processes, catastrophic events and protection of the environment. The region is densely populated with progressively increasing anthropogenic pressures, which, when combined with the peculiar geological setting, result in heightened vulnerability to climate change enhanced by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. The workshop will explore most of these aspects, and will include a hands-on experience session.

Teachers from Europe and around the world can apply to participate in the 2017 edition of GIFT, and to receive a travel and accommodation stipend to attend the workshop, by November 15. Application information is available for download in PDF format, a document which also includes the preliminary programme of the workshop.

Not sure what to expect? More information about GIFT workshops can be found in the GIFT section of the EGU website. You can also take a look at a blog post about what participants could expect from the 2016 workshop and also learn what the workshop is like from a teacher’s perspective here. You might also find videos of the 2016 workshop useful too.

This calls for a celebration: GeoLog’s 1000 post!

This calls for a celebration: GeoLog’s 1000 post!

As far as blogging milestones go, today is pretty special. This is GeoLog’s 1000 post!

Since the EGU’s official blog launched back in March 2010 (that’s right, there’s over 6 years of back catalogue for you to enjoy!), we’ve shared posts about research spanning almost every discipline in the Earth sciences; highlighted member’s adventures in the field and showcased the work of outstanding early career scientist. We’ve not shied away from contentious topics and shone a light on some of the most fascinating processes which shape our planet, as well as bringing you the latest from our annual General Assembly.

To celebrate, we’ve come up with a list of some posts which highlight the diversity of content published in the blog over the past six and a half years. Because selecting the best of the blog would be too hard a task, we’ve chosen to feature some of the Executive Office’s favourite posts, as well as some of the most viewed posts since we started recording statistics about the blog back in 2012.

Bárbara Ferreira, the EGU’s Media and Communications Manager says “It’s hard to pick your favourites from amongst 1000 blog posts, published over 6.5 years of the EGU’s blog existence, so I will highlight a few ‘firsts’ instead.”

Imaggeo on Mondays is the longest running regular column on the blog, having started in February 2011. Weekly, we highlight a photo from the EGU’s open-access image repository, Imaggeo.

“The very first featured image was an asphalt volcano from the Gulf of Mexico,” explains Bárbara.

Not surprisingly, one of the most popular posts in GeoLog’s history is also an Imaggeo on Mondays post. Could it be any other way when the April 2013 post highlighted one of the most emblematic geological features in the world? Sarah Connors, the EGU’s Policy Fellow is also a fan of Imaggeo on Mondays.

Left: Asphalt volcano off the Gulf of Mexico . Credit: Marum. Right: href=""> Grand Prismatic spring . Credit: David Mencin (both images distributed via

Left: Asphalt volcano off the Gulf of Mexico . Credit: Marum. Right: Grand Prismatic spring . Credit: David Mencin (both images distributed via

“It gives me the opportunity to learn facts about research areas that differ from my own background (atmospheric chemistry). I particularly liked ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’ which taught me about large shifting landmasses and what effects this can have on the surrounding rock (it can create swirls of different rock types),” explains Sarah.

Geosciences Columns cover recent research in the Earth, planetary and space sciences. Usually, but not always, the research featured is published in one of our open access journals, and presented in a language that is accessible to all. November 2011 was the birth-month of this popular series and featured research about how the Vikings used a transparent variety of calcite, called Iceland spar, to navigate.

“Managing the EGU’s social media presence is one of my [Laura Roberts, EGU Communications Officer] tasks, so I’m always interested in learning what applications social media might have in the context of the Earth sciences. A Geosciences Column published back in February 2013 is one of my favourites as it showcases how social networks to respond to earthquakes.”

Fast forward to July 2012 and another of our long-established columns got underway: GeoTalk, featuring a short Q&A with a geoscientist, often an early career scientist (ECS).

“We started with an interview with Guillermo Rein about his research on the largest fires on Earth and how they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions,” says Bárbara, and adds “all three columns [GeoTalk, Geosciences Columns and Imaggeo on Mondays] are ongoing to this day.”

More recently, Sarah (Policy Fellow) started our newest column: GeoPolicy, which focuses on informing the scientific community on European policy, the scientists contributing to this process, and how other researchers could play a role in influencing policy making.

“So far, it’s been a great experience and I’ve got to write about some interesting topics. I think my favourite post is the ‘How to communicate science to policy officials – tips and tricks from the experts’, which covers a science policy session at the EGU General Assembly 2016. The post summarises key communication tips for researchers wanting to engage with policy officials,” describes Sarah.

While preparing this post we realised our readers enjoy discovering more about subjects which are timely and ‘hot’ at the time of publication. A post about Iceland’s Bárðarbunga-Holuhraun and its remarkable volcanic eruption, which went live not long after the eruption and showcased new research presented at our General Assembly, is among the most popular on the blog. Tapping into slightly niche subjects also proved a hit among the GeoLog audience. Who knew a story about spitfires and geophysical archaeology in Burma would be our most read post ever?

GeoLog is also a place to find resources on all things related to career, science communication, academic writing and personal development. We’ve featured how-to-guides on how to apply for research grants, prepare for your next interview and most recently how to pitch your research to a journalist. Among the most popular posts on the blog is one packed with tips and tricks on how to prepare THE best job application.

It wouldn’t be fair to celebrate this special occasion without sending a big thank you to all our guest authors, who over the past six and a bit years have contributed a range of informative, entertaining and insightful posts. We always welcome guest contributions, so if you would like to submit a post, please do get in touch!

Last, but absolutely not least, a big thank you to all our readers! We hope you continue to enjoy GeoLog. Here is to the next 1000 posts!


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