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GeoTalk: Lena Noack, Early Career Scientist Representative

GeoTalk: Lena Noack, Early Career Scientist Representative

In addition to the usual GeoTalk interviews, where we highlight the work and achievements of early career researchers, over the next few months we’ll be introducing the Division early career scientist representatives (ECS). They are responsible for ensuring that the voice of EGU ECS membership is heard. From organising short courses during the General Assembly, through to running Division Blogs and attending regular ECS representative meetings, their tasks in this role are varied. Their role is entirely voluntary and they are all active members of their research community, so we’ll also be touching on their scientific work during the interview.

Today we are talking to Lena Noack , ECS representative for the Planetary and Solar System Sciences (PS) Division and upcoming Union-wide ECS Representative (as of April 2016).

Before we get stuck in, could you introduce yourself and tell us a little more about yourself and your career?

I am currently a post-doc at the Royal Observatory of Belgium. I studied Mathematics in Germany at the Humboldt-University of Berlin, but discovered soon that I would prefer to work in a field that was my hobby for a long time – astrophysics! I found a PhD position at the German Aerospace Center at the Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin, where I could work for four years on the simulation of plate tectonics on Earth-like planets and the general evolution of terrestrial bodies in our Solar System and beyond. My post-doc position in Belgium allows me to pursue this fascinating topic.

Although we touch upon it in the introduction of this post: what does your role as ECS representative involve?

Apart from being the voice of the ECS in my division, for me the task of the ECS representative involves a wide range of other activities, both during the General Assembly and during the whole year. Luckily, my division doesn’t lack enthusiastic PhD students and post-docs, and we organize different events during the EGU and the related EPSC (Earth and Planetary Science Congress) like short courses and competitions, or this year for the first time also a smaller workshop directly dedicated to ECS. We are also responsible for the division’s outreach activities (via the EGU-PS website, the division Facebook page and a twitter account).

Why did you put yourself forward for the role?

My involvement as ECS representative actually started with organising the division’s Outstanding Student Poster award. In this function I started to communicate with other ECS (obtaining also feedback in this way and forwarding it to the PS president). Since I was also interested in different ideas on how to improve the networking between division ECS’s and the division outreach activities, the role of the ECS representative came quite naturally to me.

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What is your vision for the EGU ECS PS community and what do you hope to achieve in the time you hold the position?

Sadly my time as ECS PS representative will come to an end during the next General Assembly (the call for candidates to put themselves forward for the role of PS Division ECS Rep will be opening soon, so keep a look out for that if this is an opportunity you might be interested in!).

Future activities I could imagine include division internal networking events directly at the GA (for example a PS social event in the evening) and more ECS workshops organised outside of the GA. Also as I take on the role of EGU-wide ECS representative in April.

What can your ECS Division members expect from the PS Division in the 2016 General Assembly?
Apart from our usual tasks, including for example a flyer with all important ECS-related activities during the GA, as well as ECS-convened PICO sessions and interesting short courses co-organized with the other divisions, we have a special “bonbon” for the PS division this year. The annual GIFT workshop, bringing teachers to the GA to interact with scientists and for education-related session, will be co-organized in 2016 by the PS division. Under this header, we are organisinge a new contest (SECreT – Scientific Easy Creative Texting), to which every interested scientist can contribute by submitting a short (max 1 page), entertaining, but also informative texts about their research, which will be made available to all GIFT attendants. The contest is of interest to all ECS that want to share their work with non-scientists, and of course there will be awards!

How can those wanting to, get involved with the EGU?

Every ECS related to the PS division is very welcome to get more involved within our division. The easiest way is to get in contact with anyone of the ECS PS group at the GA, or to drop me an e-mail before. Our Facebook page can also be used to contact us, since the page is hosted by the ECS group of the PS division. Also, in 2016 our division is searching for a new ECS representative. If you are interested in that position, best to join the ECS PS group now! To apply as a candidate for the ECS PS representative, you only need to write an e-mail confirming your participation to the PS president Ozgur Karatekin and myself.

Looking back at the EGU Blogs in 2015: welcoming new additions

Looking back at the EGU Blogs in 2015: welcoming new additions

It’s a little over 12 months since we launched the new look EGU blogs and with the holidays and new year approaching, what better time to take stock of 2015 as featured in the EGU Blogs? The past year has been full of exciting, insightful and informative blog posts. At the same time, we’ve welcomed new additions to the network and division blogs.

The network blogs

A recent highlight of the year has to be the addition of a new blog to the network: please welcome our new blogger Professor David Pyle, author of VolcanicDegassing – a blog about volcanoes and volcanic activity. In 2016 you can look forward to posts about David’s ongoing research in Latin America, the Caribbean, Ethiopia and Europe, as well as historical and contemporary descriptions or other representations of volcanic activity across the globe.

Vesuvius in eruption, April 26, 1872. Original caption ‘from a photograph taken in the neighbourhood of Naples”. (Palmieri and Mallet, 1873). Published in the Decemeber 15th post:  'The first volcanic eruption to be photographed?'

Vesuvius in eruption, April 26, 1872. Original caption ‘from a photograph taken in the neighbourhood of Naples”. (Palmieri and Mallet, 1873). Published in the Decemeber 15th post: ‘The first volcanic eruption to be photographed?

Richly illustrated and referenced posts have featured across the network throughout the year, with topics ranging from the journey aerosol particles go on throughout their life time, through to the role peculiarities of geology and geomorphology play in deciding on big international governance.

The most popular post written in 2015 was brought to you by Jon Tennant and featured the ichthyosaurs, an unusual turtle-fish-dolphin like marine reptile which cruised the seas 250 million years ago. The post focuses on the discovery of an ichthyosaur fossil named David, or rather Cartorhynchus lenticarpu as it is formally known, and how the remarkable specimen sheds light on the origins of these unusual creatures.

Matt Herod’s post on Geosphere in early December 2014 featuring the story behind the legal battle of Italian geochemists who were sued after publishing results stating that they could not find above background levels of depleted uranium in former Italian military firing ranges, is the second most read post across the network in the past year. With a strong resemblance to the L’Aquila verdict against the Italian seismologists, which was resolved in 2014, Matt highlights there are lessons to be learnt from both cases in the post.

Natural hazards and the April 2015 Nepal earthquakes featured heavily across the network too. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Geology for Global Development blog compiled a comprehensive list of links and resources which readers could consult to find out up to date and reliable information about the events in Nepal. A list which is still a useful resource some 8 months after the tragedy and which is the third most popular post on the network this year. Simon Redfern, of Atom’s Eye View of the Planet, wrote a piece on how and why scientists have identified Kathmandu valley as one of the most dangerous places in the world, in terms of earthquake risk.

With many of the network bloggers being in the thick of PhD research or having recently submitted their thesis, tips and hints for a successful PhD completion also proved a focus of the content across the network. Despite being originally written in April 2013, Jon Tennant’s blog post on why and how masters students should publish their research was the most popular post of the year! The most read post from Geology Jenga advertised a new, and free, online course on how to survive the PhD journey.

The division blogs

Since their launch last December, the division blogs have gone from strength to strength. Keeping you updated with news and information relevant to each division, they have also featured accounts of field and laboratory work, as well as professional development opportunities and open vacancies.

Throughout the year the division blogs have been enhanced through the addition of the Atmospheric Sciences, Energy Resources and Environment blogs and, most recently, the Biogeosciences Division blog too.

Cross-section of the age of the Greenland Ice Sheet from radar data. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio and MacGregor et al., 2015.

Cross-section of the age of the Greenland Ice Sheet from radar data. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio and MacGregor et al., 2015.

The most popular post of the year was shared by the Seismology Division and touched upon the controversial topic of whether cloud formations can be used to predict earthquakes, while the Cryosphere Division blog’s image of the week of late October featuring a cross section of the Greenland Ice Sheet was the second most popular post. Round-up posts about the 2015 General Assembly, tips for convening sessions at the conference, as shared by Geodesy Division, and some soul searching by the Geomorphology Division as to why a proposed session wasn’t included in the final conference programme also proved very popular.

Get involved

Are you a budding science writer, or want to try your hand at science communication? All the EGU Blogs, from GeoLog (the official EGU blog), through to the network and division blogs, welcome guest contributions from scientists, students and professionals in the Earth, planetary and space sciences.

It couldn’t be easier to get involved. Decide what you’d like to write about, find the blog that is the best fit for your post and contact the blog editor – you can find all editor details on the individual blog pages. If in doubt, you can submit your idea for a post via the Submit a Post page on GeoLog, or email the EGU Communications Officer, Laura Roberts, who can help with initial enquiries and introduce you to individual blog editors.

Don’t forget to a look at the blog pages for a flavour of the content you can expect from the new, and existing, blogs in 2016. The blogs are also a great place to learn about new opportunities, exciting fields of research and keep up to date with news relating to the upcoming 2016 General Assembly.

GeoPolicy: What was decided from the Paris COP21?

GeoPolicy: What was decided from the Paris COP21?

Last week saw the world’s leaders come together in Paris for the 21st ‘Conference of the Parties’ (aka COP21) to discuss climate change. The 12 day meeting saw over 50,000 participants (half of which from Government organisations) come to reach an agreement on limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) production.

Background

Manmade climate change, resulting from the increased production of GHG into the atmosphere, has caused the Earth to warm by over 1 °C since pre-industrial times. If global emissions continue to rise at this rate the world will be roughly 5 °C warmer by 2100 (that’s the same difference in temperature between now and the last ice age). A temperature change of that range will have major impacts on the Earth and its inhabitants. For decades, world leaders have met to discuss strategies for reducing GHG emissions. The 2009 COP aimed to limit global warming to 2 °C; a level considered to be preventing “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” [1]. However, there has been no legally binding treaties to come from a COP where all countries were in agreement. A legislative agreement was the major goal for COP21.

The video below gives a good summary of the COP history including which meetings were considered successes and which were failures.

COP21 primer: A brief history of climate talks

What did the EU countries pledge?

Before COP21, countries submitted ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, or INDCs, which laid out their individual plans for GHG reduction.

As a whole, the EU submitted relatively aggressive INDCs, pledging a reduction of GHGs of at least 60 % below 2010 levels by 2050. This pledge would be legally binding if all parties agree. The EU already has legislation that requires all 28 member states to reduce their emissions by at least 40 % by 2030, compared to 1990 [2].

The UNFCCC ‘Climate Action Now’ briefing

The United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the organisation who organises the COPs. After all the INDCs were submitted but before the meeting they published their ‘Climate Action Now’ briefing which summarised the pledges so far and the major policy routes to be taken to achieve only a 2 °C warming. I summarised this document into a storify of tweets but the major highlights are listed below:

  • Current INDC pledges do not limit global warming to 2 °C but to 3.7-4.8 °C
  • 2 °C limit can still be reached through suggested policy solutions but ‘Achieving the 2 degree goal requires immediate action and the full engagement of Parties and other relevant stakeholders’
  • Targeted financial support, tech transfer and capacity-building (especially for developing countries) is needed.
  • There are multiple co-benefits to climate mitigation policies which include water and food security, biodiversity improvements, economic benefits, improved health, and higher air quality.
  • 6 policy themes are: Renewables, Energy Efficiency, Transport, Carbon Capture, Non-CO2 GHGs, Land use, Adaptation co-benefits.

Highlights from the meeting

  • Drafting the agreement throughout the meeting and getting the new treaty signed was the primary goal of COP21. A consensus had to be met from all 196 participating countries to make a legally binding document. The draft agreement went through three rounds of edits over the 2 week meeting. It started being 48 pages in length which was reduced to 28 pages, then 27, but finally ending up at 31 pages. Prior draft agreements highlighted any contentious issues in square brackets. The first draft had a staggering 939 areas of disagreement. This was reduced to 367, and then to 50 in the final draft published on December 11th.
  • Day 1 of the meeting saw 150 of the world leaders come together to give key speeches and highlight their Nation’s pledges. President Obama spoke of the need for a “flow to the countries that need help preparing for the impacts of climate change we can no longer avoid”. China’s President, Xi Jinping, spoke of his country’s aim to peak GHG emission by 2030. Other new initiatives were announced including the Solar Alliance, which aims to “foster cooperation and collaboration between solar-rich nations”. New Zealand’s Prime Minister spoke of the need to reduce fossil fuel subsidies and to allow these funds to be invested in low-carbon technology. [More information on Day 1’s highlights can be found on the Carbon Brief Website[3].
  • 1.5 or 2 degrees warming was a hotly debated topic throughout the meeting. It was put forward at the beginning of COP21 by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, which consists of 20 developing countries. 100% renewable energy and full decarbonisation by 2050 was also called for by this forum. Before the meeting the 2 degree limit was discussed more often, but surpassing a 1.5 degree rise could still be damaging, as Dr Rachel Warren, a from the University of East Anglia, told the Carbon Brief: “In the 5th assessment of the IPCC (2013), when we assessed the reasons for concern about climate change and we considered unique and threatened systems, we found that a transition from moderate to high risk to those systems occurred somewhere between 1.1-1.6 °C above pre-industrial, whereas by 2 °C the risks to those systems were already high.” Article 2 was heatedly debated but the final wording of the treaty became “Hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C” [4].
  • The long term goal has been included in the agreement to account for the current pledges falling short of the 2 degree limit. This was another debated issue throughout COP21. The resulting text reads that “a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of GHGs in the second half of this century”. This is a compromised statement compared to previous drafts which offered either specific dates for these goals to be achieved or used the more vague term of achieving “emissions neutrality”. The term ‘balance’ has also been criticised as being too ambiguous. Additionally, the final text offers the opportunity for carbon capture techniques to be used to achieve net zero emissions [5].
  • A five year review cycle features in the agreement where countries must continue to make pledges, similar to the INDCs, that demonstrate how they plan to further reduce their emissions. This section was included to account for the gap in countries’ pledges and the desired 2 degree warming limit. These meetings will commence in 2020 (when the agreement legally comes into being).
  • Financial aid from developed countries to support developing states with renewable energy projects is described as a legal requirement in the agreement. In previous drafts this included a quantified amount of at least $100 billion per year, however this value is now in a flexible / voluntary section of the agreement. A new ‘Loss and Damage’ term legally requires developed countries to offer financial aid to ‘small islands and vulnerable states’ to help them tackle inevitable effects of climate change these nations are/will experience. However, liability and compensation terms have been explicitly left out of the agreement. For a full list of the current funding pledges please see the UNFCCC’s Climate Funding Announcements webpage. [6].

‘Not perfect’

The agreement has been described by many as ‘not perfect’. Some phrases have been criticised as too vague and not all terms are legally binding, for example, a voluntary emissions trading scheme is described. Willing countries can sign up but there must be at least 55 parties, covering at least 55% of global emissions for the scheme to be adopted.

Future implications

President Obama stated that the Paris agreement is “the best chance we have to save the one planet we have”. China’s chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua also stated that, although the agreement is not ideal, “this does not prevent us from marching historical steps forward” [7]. The positivity and optimism from the first day of COP21 has remained throughout the whole meeting. Now, countries must adhere to their pledges to decrease GHG emissions if we are to limit global climate change to a 2 degree warming.

You can read the signed treaty on the UNFCCC’s website.

Sources

[1] – http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/climate/2015-paris-climate-talks/what-are-the-paris-climate-talks

[2] – EP At a glance plenary 12 October 2015 ‘EU approach to the Paris climate conference’

[3] – http://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-the-key-announcements-from-day-1-at-cop21

[4] – http://www.carbonbrief.org/scientists-discuss-the-1-5c-limit-to-global-temperature-rise

[5] – http://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-the-long-term-goal-of-the-paris-climate-deal

[6] – http://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-the-final-paris-climate-deal

[7] – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-35086346

EGU2016: Applying for financial support to attend the General Assembly

EGU2016: Applying for financial support to attend the General Assembly

The EGU is committed to promoting the participation of both early career scientists and established researchers from low and middle income countries who wish to present their work at the EGU General Assembly. In order to encourage participation of scientists from both these groups, a limited amount of the overall budget of the EGU General Assembly is reserved to provide financial support to those who wish to attend the meeting.

From 2005 to 2015, the total amount awarded grew from about €50k to €110k, with 270 awards being allocated to support attendance to the 2015 General Assembly, representing a 34% application success rate. For the 2016 General Assembly, the EGU has allocated €110k to financially support scientists who wish to attend the meeting. About 80-90% of the funds are reserved to assist early career scientists in attending the conference, whilst the remaining funds will be allocated to established scientists.

Financial support includes a waiver of the registration fee and a refund of the Abstract Processing Charge (relating to the abstract for which support was requested). Additionally, the grant may include support for travel expenditures, at the discretion of the Support Selection Committee, to a maximum of €300. The EGU currently runs two different financial support schemes; you will be able to find more details about each of these awards on the Support & Distinction section on the EGU 2016 website. You will also find details on who is eligible for the awards on the website.

Scientists who wish to apply for financial support should submit an abstract, on which they are first authors, by 1 December 2015. Late applications, or applications where the scientist is not the main author, will not be considered. The EGU Support Selection Committee will make its decision to support individual contributions by 23 December 2015. All applicants will be informed after the decision via email in late December or January. Only the granted amount mentioned in the financial support email will be paid out to the supported contact author.

To submit the abstract of your oral or poster presentation, please enter the Call-For-Papers page on the EGU2016 website, select the part of the programme you would like to submit an abstract to, and study the respective session list. Each session shows the link to Abstract Submission that you should use. More information on how to submit an abstract is available from the EGU 2016 website.

Applying for financial support is easier than ever! As soon as you make your choice of session you will be prompted to select whether you wish to apply for financial support. If you do, be sure you tick the appropriate box when submitting your abstract. Bear in mind that, even if you are applying for support, you will still need to pay the Abstract Processing Charge. A screenshot of the first screen of the abstract submission process is shown below.

The abstract submission page (click for larger). If you wish to apply for financial support, please select the relevant support box.

The abstract submission page (click for larger). If you wish to apply for financial support, please select the relevant support box.

 

As of 2015 there is an improved selection process for the allocation of the awards. Abstracts are evaluated on the basis of the criteria outlined below:

Evaluation Criteria Weight
How well does this contribution fit into the session it is submitted to? 10%
Is this contribution essential for the session being successful? 30%
Is the abstract clearly structured and scientifically sound? 25%
Are there conclusions and are they supported by data or analysis? 25%
How well is the abstract written (grammar, orthography)? 10%

 

Schematic summary of the evaluation criteria.

Schematic summary of the evaluation criteria.

Next year’s financial-support awardees will be notified in late December or early January. If you have any questions about applying for financial support, please contact EGU communications Officer, Laura Roberts.

 

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