GeoLog

Open Access

The best of Imaggeo in 2014: in pictures.

From the rifting of the African continent, to mighty waterfalls in Slovenia, through to a bird’s eye view of the Glarus Thurst in the Alps, images from Imaggeo, the EGU’s open access geosciences image repository, they have given us some stunning views of the geoscience of Planet Earth and beyond. In this post we have curated some of our favourites, including header images from across our social media channels and Immageo on Mondays blog posts of 2014. Of course, these are only a few of the very special images we highlighted in 2014, but take a look at our image repository, Imaggeo, for many other spectacular geo-themed pictures, including the winning images of the 2014 Photo Contest. The competition will be running again this year, so if you’ve got a flare for photography or have managed to capture a unique field work moment, consider uploading your images to Imaggeo and entering the Photo Contest.

Kilimanjaro from Mount Meru Credit: Alexis Merlaud (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Kilimanjaro from Mount Meru Credit: Alexis Merlaud (distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Plate tectonics in East Africa created Kilimajaro and have also played a role in early human evolution, by shaping the local landscape and the long-term climate, thus modifying the environment of our ancestors. East Africa is the area in the world where most of the hominid fossils have been discovered, including Homo sapiens – the oldest fossil record is 200,000 years old and started to move out from Africa 100,000 years ago!

Peričnik waterfall, an amazing sight in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park. (Credit: Cyril Mayaud, distributed by imaggeo.egu.eu)

Peričnik waterfall, an amazing sight in Slovenia’s Triglav National Park. (Credit: Cyril Mayaud, distributed by imaggeo.egu.eu)

The picture above shows the lower Peričnik waterfall during winter season. This cascade system is composed of two successive waterfalls that stretch some 16 metres (upper fall) and 52 metres (lower fall) high and is one of the most beautiful natural sights in the Triglav National Park (Slovenia). The cliff is located at the western rim of a U shaped valley and is composed of a very permeable conglomerate rock, which is made up of glacier material that accumulated at the rims of the valley back when the glacier retreated.

Black Rolling.  (Credit: Philippe Leloup via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Black Rolling. (Credit: Philippe Leloup via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Polished slab of a mylonitic level of the Ailao Shan Red River shear zone (SE Asia) with an anphibole-rich layer showing left-lateral rolling structure (total width ~20 cm).

Hessdalen sky & Aurora. (Credit: Bjørn Gitle Hauge distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Hessdalen sky & Aurora. (Credit: Bjørn Gitle Hauge distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

The night sky over Hessdalen Valley. Together with the radar an all-sky Nikon D700 camera monitors the whole night sky, covering the same area/view as the radar. The camera is equipped with an 8 mm fisheye lens computer controlled by Nikons Camera Control pro2 software, shooting simultaneous pictures with 30 seconds of shutter opening.

Men and children drawing water for irrigation during a sandstorm. (Credit: Velio Coviello via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Men and children drawing water for irrigation during a sandstorm. (Credit: Velio Coviello via imaggeo.egu.eu)

One of the winning images of the EGU 2014 Photo Contest, sheds light on the problems associated with conserving soils and water in Western Africa.

Desert fires feeding a convective cloud system over Mono Lake, California. (Credit: Gabriele Stiller distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Desert fires feeding a convective cloud system over Mono Lake, California. (Credit: Gabriele Stiller distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Wildfires frequently break out in the Californian summer. The grass is dry, the ground parched and a small spark can start a raging fire, but burning can begin even when water is about. When a blaze started beside Mono Lake, what got it going and what it may have started in the sky?

Moonlit glacier. (Credit: Marco Matteucci distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Moonlit glacier. (Credit: Marco Matteucci distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Early morning wake-up at the moonlit Alpine refuge Quintino Sella in the Felik glacier (3585 m). Mount Rosa ridge, Valle d’Aosta, Italy.

Air, Fire, Earth and Water. (Credit: Sabrina Matzger via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Air, Fire, Earth and Water. (Credit: Sabrina Matzger via imaggeo.egu.eu)

In the summer of 2001, southern Iceland, including the Reykjanes peninsula, was struck by a series of earthquakes, the largest of which was magnitude 6.6. Following the earthquakes, the water levels in Lake Kleifarvatn began to drop; by 2001 the water level had diminished by 4m. A fissure, approximately 400m long and 30cm wide, observed in the vicinity of the lake, was seen to disappear below its waters. It is thought the fissure is responsible for the draining of the lake between 2000 and 2001.

Glarus Alps. (Credit: Kurt Stüwe, via imaggeo.egu.eu

Glarus Alps. (Credit: Kurt Stüwe, via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Undoubtedly, the Alps are one of the best studied mountain ranges in the world. Appreciating their immense beauty and geological wealth can be difficult from the ground, given their vast scale and the inaccessibility of some of their more challenging peaks. Kurt Stüwe, along with alpine photographer Ruedi Homberger, set about changing this by undertaking the ambitious task of photographing the length of the Alps, from Nice to Vienna, in a small aircraft. The result is a compilation of stunning photographs that capture the magnificence of the Alps and contribute to a better understanding of their geological history.

Choosing amongst the 12 beautiful header images we’ve had this year was not easy! Here we highlight three; but in truth, they are all worthy of mention!

Morning Voyage. (Credit: Sierra Pope distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Morning Voyage, the April 2014 header image. (Credit: Sierra Pope distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya – Montañas del Fuego, Lanzarote. Header image of September 2014. (Credit: Frederik Tack distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Parque Nacional de Timanfaya – Montañas del Fuego, Lanzarote. Header image of September 2014. (Credit: Frederik Tack distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Mount Moran. Credit: Josep Miquel Ubalde Bauló distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Mount Moran, October 2014. Credit: Josep Miquel Ubalde Bauló distributed via imaggeo.egu.eu)

Mount Moran (12,605 feet (3,842 m)) is a mountain in Grand Teton National Park of western Wyoming, USA. Mount Moran dominates the northern section of the Teton Range rising 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above Jackson Lake.[4] Several active glaciers exist on the mountain with Skillet Glacier plainly visible on the monolithic east face. Like the Middle Teton in the same range, Mount Moran’s face is marked by a distinctive basalt intrusion known as the Black Dike.

As these highlights show, 2014 has spoilt us with an incredible set of images! We look forward to more in 2015. Best wishes from EGU for the new year!

 

If you pre-register for the 2015 General Assembly (Vienna, 12 – 17 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/.

GeoEd: Citizen Geoscience

GeoEd: Citizen Geoscience

In this month’s GeoEd column, Sam Illingworth tells us about the growing use of Citizen Science within research as a means of acquiring data. Whilst the practice is novel and offers exciting opportunities as to volumes of data collected Sam highlights the importance of appropriately crediting the work of the willing volunteers.

Citizen Science is a phrase that is currently de rigour in scientific communication circles. In essence it can be thought of as a form of collaborative research that involves members of the general public (or citizens), which actively involves them collecting or generating data.

There are many examples of citizen science projects in the geosciences, including Old Weather a ‘data mining’ citizen science project that aims to help scientists recover Arctic and worldwide weather observations made by US ships since the mid-19th century, by enlisting citizens to interpret old transcriptions (e.g. track ship movements) in order to generate new data. Such ultimately improves our knowledge of past environmental conditions, with a better understanding and capability to model these past occurrences ultimately leading to an improvement in modelling future events.

Just some of the cropland that still needs to be captured! (Photo Credit: Tony Atkin)

Just some of the cropland that still needs to be captured! (Photo Credit: Tony Atkin)

Another example of a citizen science project in the geosciences, and again one which involves data analysis rather than data creation, is Cropland Capture, which focused on improving current cropland extent by classifying all very high resolution images found on Google Earth to create a wall-to-wall map of cropland. Accurate and reliable global cropland extent maps are essential for estimating and forecasting crop yield, in particular losses due to drought and production anomalies. Realising the tremendous scale of this task, developers created a multi-platform game in which players were provided with a satellite image or in-situ photo, and had to determine if the image contained cropland or not. This element of ‘gamification’ is a popular way of engaging members of the general public, with prizes awarded to the top 3 capturers in an award ceremony in May of this year. The success of this approach is evident by the fact that over 4.5 mil sq km of land was validated during the 6 months of this project!

There are also a number of citizen science programmes that actively source data directly from members of the public. For example, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) is a non-profit, community-based network of volunteers who measure and map precipitation using low-cost measurement tools with an interactive website. The project started in Colorado in 1998 and now has networks across the US and Canada, involving thousands of volunteers, making it the largest provider of daily precipitation observation in the US. CoCoRaHS inspired a similar project that was trialled in the UK, the ‘UK Community Rain Network’ (UCRaiN), which showed the potential for setting up a UK-based network. As well as improving the coverage of the current network of raingauges, and therefore the potential application to forecasting, nowcasting, satellite and radar validation, flood warning systems and decision making, a community rainfall collection scheme has the the additional benefit of encouraging citizens to become involved in meteorological science, thereby heightening their awareness about weather.

Map showing the locations of the participating UCRaiN sites (schools and individuals). The meteorological sites used for comparison are shown by the square symbols (Photo Credit: Illingworth, et al.)

Map showing the locations of the participating UCRaiN sites (schools and individuals). The meteorological sites used for comparison are shown by the square symbols (Photo Credit: Illingworth, et al.)

The main objection to these types of citizen science projects are that they are potentially tantamount to free labour; with scientists using the general public to collect and/or analyse vast swaths of data, whilst they steal all of the ‘glory’, perhaps in a matter analogous to a particularly unsympathetic professor and their postgraduate students. After all, whilst there are many incentives for mining and analysing the data, it is not the citizens whose name will be appearing on the research papers and grant applications that so often come about from these projects. By appealing to the noble intentions of the citizens, and placing an emphasis on the progression of science for the greater good, is there not the risk that some of the researchers sitting atop of these projects come across as hypocritical?

Perhaps the most famous example of a truly collaborative citizen science project is the Human Genome Project, an international scientific research project with the goal of mapping all of the genes of the human genome from both a physical and functional standpoint. It remains the world’s largest collaborative biological project, and serves as a great example of science genuinely being conducted for and on behalf of the greater good. Whilst publically acknowledged projects such as this are obviously an extreme example (the Human Genome Project was conducted using $3 billion of public funding), there is still plenty of opportunity for researchers to ensure that the citizens that they employ are properly recognised. For example, in the UCRaiN project, all of the participating schools were given credit in the acknowledgments section of the research article that was produces as a result of the study.

The first printout of the human genome to be presented as a series of books (Photo Credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License)

The first printout of the human genome to be presented as a series of books (Photo Credit: CC-BY-SA-3.0; Released under the GNU Free Documentation License)

Overall, citizen science projects are becoming an increasingly popular means to engage the public, whilst also benefiting scientific research, especially given the growing ubiquity of social media and other communications platforms. However, there is a need to actively involve the participants in these projects, and to ensure that they receive the appropriate acknowledgments, otherwise we, as scientists, run the risk of treating our new colleagues as nothing more than second-class citizens.

By Sam Illingworth, Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University

Open Access: Access to knowledge

“Access to knowledge is a basic human right.” Yet sadly as scientists we are often forced to operate in a framework in which this is not always the case. This week sees the celebration of the eighth Open Access Week, and whilst there have undoubtedly been many achievements by the Open Access (OA) movement since 2009, there is still a long way to go before mankind’s basic human right to knowledge is restored.

Open for business: The Open Access logo (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Open for business: The Open Access logo (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

So why all the big fuss about OA in the first instance? If you are reading this as a layperson or as a scientist at the outset of their scientific career, then you may be surprised to find out that it costs (often large sums of) money to read online research articles. Even if these fees are not being charged to you personally, the chances are that it is costing your research institution or library thousands of pounds/euros/dollars that could otherwise be spent on research, resources, jobs, or infrastructure (as an example, in 2009, Clemson University in the US, an institute with less than 17,000 students, spent an astonishing $1.3 million on journal subscriptions to the publishing magnate Elsevier alone).

Over the past 30 years, journal prices have out priced inflation by over 250%; but it wasn’t always like this. In the past journals existed for two reasons: as an affordable option for scientists to publish their work in (as opposed to the more expensive option of personally-published books), and as a place where members of the general public and the wider scientific community could find out about the advances in science that their taxes were helping to fund. Sadly, in recent times many journals seem to have lost their way on both counts, hence the need to open it up again.

Climbing Higher: The cost of journal articles continues to rise completely out of proportion to inflation (Photo credit: Association of Research libraries)

Climbing Higher: The cost of journal articles continues to rise completely out of proportion to inflation (Photo credit: Jorge Cham/PHD Comics)

The beginning of the modern OA movement can be traced back to the 4th July 1971, when Michael Hart launched Project Gutenberg, a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works for free. However, it wasn’t until 1989 (and with the advent of the Internet) that the first digital-only, free journals were launched, amongst them Psycoloquy by Stevan Harnad and The Public-Access Computer Systems Review by Charles W. Bailey Jr.

Since then, the OA movement has grown considerably, although it is important to note that publishing articles so that they are free for all is itself not without expense. Despite the lack of print and mailing costs, there are still large infrastructure and staffing overheads that need to be taken into consideration, and so rather than make the reader pay, alternatives have to be found.

One alternative, known as the Gold route to OA, is to make the author(s) of the article pay for the right to have their research accessible by all. Many journals already require an Article Processing Charge (APC) to be paid before publication, and so some journals have simply elected to add an additional charge if the author wants to make their journal open to the general public.

The other main alternative is the Green route to OA, which involves the author placing their journal in a central repository, which is then made available to all. The journal in which the article was originally published will usually enforce an embargo period of a number of months or years that must pass before the published articles can be placed in these repositories, although this can often be circumnavigated by uploading final, ‘accepted for publication’, drafts of the article. You can read more about OA subject repositories in this article.

A sea of golden green: the availability of gold and green OA journal articles by scientific discipline in 2009 (Source: Björk, et al.).

A sea of golden green: the availability of gold and green OA journal articles by scientific discipline in 2009 (Source: Björk, et al.).

Both of these approaches to OA have their respective advantages and disadvantages, and normally research intuitions and/or funding bodies guide the route that researchers choose. The Research Councils UK (RCUK), for example, has a policy (which can be found here) that supports both the Gold and the Green routes to OA, though it has a preference for immediate access with the maximum opportunity for reuse. It is worth noting at this point that another key aim of the OA movement is that published research is free to reuse in future studies. This might seem like a fairly trivial point, but currently for any articles published in closed access journals, express permission is needed from the publishers if the results are to be used in any future studies.

Capture4

Top of the food chain: the top 10 UK universities in terms of APC funding distribution (Source: RCUK).

The major barrier that still needs to be overcome with regards to OA is determining who pays for the right to free access. At the moment many governments have a centralised pot, which they allocate to their different research institutes. However, issues arise when one considers the limitations that this imposes on poorer countries, institutes, research disciplines, and independent researchers. There is also the minefield of determining who gets how much and why; my own institute, Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has only been allocated enough funds to pay for 7 academic papers a year via the Gold route to OA. When you consider that some researchers would hope to publish that many papers themselves on a yearly basis, there is clearly a disconnect. It is for these reasons that many are pushing for ‘OA 2.0’, an initiative in which articles are, in the words of EGU’s former executive secretary Arne Richter, “Free to Read, Free to Download and Free to Publish.” However, such an approach will require a major change in the modus operandi of almost all publishing companies. It is worth noting that Copernicus, who are responsible for publishing the majority of EGU’s affiliated journals are very strong proponents of the Open Access movement, and have been one of the leading lights in an otherwise murky world.

The sad truth of the matter is that many of the more traditional journals are now run as big-business, moneymaking machines, safe in the knowledge that they can get away with charging large fees, because scientists are still desperate to publish in places with a ‘high-impact’. However, if enough scientists rise up and move away from these restrictive journals, and migrate towards those with an OA policy, then the impact factors will soon follow suit (in fact, there is already strong evidence that publishing in an OA journal will result in more citations for your research). Only then can we begin to reinstate knowledge as a basic human right available to all, rather than as an expensive luxury dolled out to the privileged few who can afford it.

 

By Sam Illingworth, Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University

 

Open geoscience

Not so long ago I was in a meeting with EGU’s young scientist representatives, who had gathered online to discuss the issues facing those early in their academic careers. One member of this dedicated team put forward a compelling notion: that the future of open access is in the hands of today’s early-career researchers. This post aims to answer the question that followed: “how could EGU’s team of eager early-career researchers help their peers grab hold of the open opportunities out there?” by offering up a few routes to open science…

A lot of hard work, carefully created figures and data don’t make it to your publications, but they are still a useful part of the scientific process and can help other scientists if they can see what you found. A great way to share this sort of information is on Figshare – and it’s citable too.

The same goes for conference presentations – don’t let them gather dust on your desktop. The aim of a conference is to share your work more widely, so, when you’re done, put your slides up on sites like SlideShare to share it beyond the conference. Keep your contact details in the presentation and you could find yourself with new collaborators.

Open the doors to more collaborative geoscience. (Credit: Oxyman)

Open the doors to more collaborative geoscience. (Credit: Oxyman)

Posters can be made open too. After our annual General Assembly, we invite authors to upload their posters and presentations, but there’s no need to restrict your openness to the EGU conference. F1000 posters is an open access repository for posters in biology, so if your work bridges the biogeosciences, be sure to submit it there. If you’re in another field, try Figshare (despite the name, it’s not just for figures!).

The EGU offers a number of open access journals for the Earth, planetary and space sciences, but there are many more journals where you can publish your work, if the scope of EGU journals doesn’t quite cover your field. The American Geosciences Institute hosts a comprehensive list of open geo journals on their website, and the Directory of Open Access Journals is exactly what it says on the tin – a hub of high quality open access publications. The stringent criteria required to enter their database means that predatory open access journals are filtered out.

But what about impact? Going open doesn’t mean lower impact, in fact, with your paper being openly available to all, it’s more likely to be seen and cited, so the impact at the article level could well be higher than if it was in a subscription-based publication. You can track the impact of your research outputs using ImpactStory, or by using the Altmetric bookmarklet to keep tabs on more than just citations, from where it’s featured in news articles and blog posts to where it’s been mentioned on social media and more.

Don’t let your work gather dust. (Credit: How Matters)

Don’t let your work gather dust, share it. (Credit: How Matters)

The European Research Council considers that providing free online access to publications is the most effective way of ensuring that the fruits of the research it funds can be accessed, read and used as the basis for further research. Many funders are also moving in this direction, providing further incentive to publish open access papers.

When your manuscript is ready, submit it to a preprint server (e.g., arxiv.org, peerj.com, or biorxiv.org). EGU papers have an open review process, which helps ensure the assessment of a submitted manuscript is thorough and fair, but it also means that the science is out in the open sooner – the merit of a preprint. This helps establish precedence, highlighting that you were working on something first, and can remove barriers to scientific progress (we all know peer review can take a while!). Some establishments aren’t a fan of this though; so before you put a preprint online, check Sherpa/Romeo to make sure your institute, funding body and the journal(s) you’re interested in are on board with the benefits of preprints.

Models are near ubiquitous in the geosciences and their importance in assessing the impact of climate change goes without saying. But what if you couldn’t replicate the results of, say, an important climate model? You would need to go back to the model’s code and see where your calculations and the ones before differed. Sharing code is compulsory for journals like Geoscientific Model Development, but many don’t stipulate the need to share it. You can go one step further to help your community by sharing your code on GitHub, whether it’s compulsory for your latest article or not.

Free the work from your desktop folders. (Credit: opensource.com)

Free the work from your desktop folders. (Credit: opensource.com)

With all these opportunities to go open, wouldn’t it be great if you had an opportunity to keep track of all your outputs? There’s an answer for that too – ORCID. ORCID is a unique researcher identifier that links all your research outputs, from manuscripts and conference abstracts to grant submissions and research figures, ensuring you get credit for the work you do.

For something less formal, but perhaps more open in that you can go beyond the academic community, try blogging about your research – we readily welcome guest posts here on GeoLog, but there are many places you can set your science free. Try The Conversation, SciLogs, pitching your idea to another geoscience blogger or better yet, establishing your own blog to write on. You can also go further to promote your research and facts about your field on social media – a great way to form connections with other academics and put your work in the public eye.

These are just a few thoughts on open geoscience, but there are likely more ways go open than could ever be summarised in a single post. Take this is a starting point, seek out more options for yourself, and, if you already have a few tips on how to make geoscience more open, spread the word.

By Sara Mynott, EGU Communications Officer

If you have any thoughts on other ways geoscientists can move towards open science, please add your thoughts to the comment thread below. 

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