EGU General Assembly

Have a colleague who does outstanding work? – Nominate him/her for an EGU Award or Medal!

Have a colleague who does outstanding work? – Nominate him/her for an EGU Award or Medal!

Congratulations again to Sara Bruni for receiving the Geodesy Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award 2018! A summary of her research on new findings in the gravity field time series from Medicina is posted below.

Maybe you know an Early Career Scientist who does as outstanding work as Sara Bruni does? Nomination is the first crucial step in order to receive an award, don’t let this opportunity pass and nominate an outstanding colleague for an EGU Award or Medal in 2019, the final nomination submission deadline is June 15, 2018!

There is not only the Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award, but many more. For more details about the entire EGU Awards and Medals programme for the year 2019:

For information on proposing candidates and on the selection process, please see:





Gravity time series still reveal new insights

Gravity time series still reveal new insights






View of the Medicina observatory.

The site hosts a superconducting gravimeter (SG) installed in a dedicated building next to a piezometer. Local height variations  are monitored by means of two GPS stations, located at the end of the N-S segment of the “North Cross” radio telescope. The two GPS stations are about 30 m apart and are close to a VLBI antenna.



Geodetic observations have proven to provide a fundamental base for advances in Earth-system sciences, while simultaneously supporting critical societal applications such as navigation, land planning and disaster management.

However, the interpretation of geodetic records is far from being a trivial task. The available observables typically respond to multiple geophysical phenomena; in turn, these phenomena can span over various temporal and spatial scales and can involve mass transfer and energy fluxes between the different parts of the system Earth. Therefore, one of the most exciting challenges that geodesy is currently facing concerns recognizing the fingerprints of different geophysical processes in the available observations.

In our recent talk at the EGU General Assembly, we focused on results derived from 20 years of continuous height and gravity measurements acquired at Medicina, Italy. Gravity data are well-suited to illustrate the complex interplay between different processes because they embed the effects of both mass variations and crustal deformation. Our study aimed to characterize the different contributions to the gravity data and quantitatively assess the agreement between independent observing techniques.

Thanks to the wealth of data collected during all these years, we were able to conclude that the gravity behavior in Medicina is mostly governed by the natural land subsidence and by regional non-linear variations in terrestrial water storage. For the first time, we have managed to quantify the temporal variations of geo-technical phenomena controlling the soil response to variations in surface fluids. As these phenomena can induce damages to the walls of buildings such as, for example, residential structures, any improvement in their understanding has also a valuable societal impact. By carefully modeling all the relevant components, we were able to reproduce gravity data with an overall agreement in the order 10 nm/s^2.

The long-term and effective collaboration between the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Bologna and the German Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy made this experiment possible. There have been many challenges to overcome during the journey, but the insights revealed after (the first!) twenty years of operation tell us about a successful geodetic story.


Edited by Katrin Bentel



Sara Bruni is the recipient of the Geodesy Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award 2018 and a post-doc researcher at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Bologna, Italy. Her research interests include the combination of space geodetic techniques for the realization of the ITRF, sea-level studies in the Mediterranean area and the separation of signals in gravity dataset. You can contact her at sara.bruni4@unibo.it.

EGU General Assembly – an adventure for newbies

EGU General Assembly – an adventure for newbies

One day in January, we heard it through the grapevine that we were supposed to submit abstracts to an event called EGU. So we asked ourselves: What exactly is EGU? Our colleagues told us: ‘EGU is a huge, international conference worth going. And you will have a lot of fun.’ So we submitted our abstracts and hoped for the best. Three months later, we entered the airport with a poster box and some of our colleagues. Immediately, the excitement started seeing at least 20 poster boxes on the same flight. But our flight got canceled. So, instead of joining the ‘Opening Reception’ in the evening, we practiced queuing (which was helpful later for coffee and beer at EGU) at the airport. Luckily, we got a new flight and finally arrived in Vienna late at night.

The next morning, slightly tired and after the first of many coffees of the week ahead, we entered the tube going to Kaisermühlen/VIC. It was amazing to see the huge crowd swarming to the conference center. When we were supposed to put up Kristin’s poster in the early morning on board X4.256, we realized the extent of EGU. The hall was incredibly huge and there were five more of them! Of course, orientation was no problem, since both of us are geodesists 😉

So we went two floors up to attend the first session with an incredibly long name and the letter combination ST3.5/EMRP4.33/G4.4. This weird abbreviation turned out to be a joined session of three divisions: Solar-Terrestrial Sciences (ST), Earth Magnetism & Rock Physics (ERMPS) and Geodesy (G). This was totally Kristin’s topic, but Kerstin left after the first oral presentation to make her way to a HS session (Hydrological Sciences). Sometimes it is really hard to decide where to go, since there are always plenty of interesting sessions at the same time (666 in total!).

When in the late afternoon the queues for beer and wine got really long (which we already knew from the airport), it was time for the poster session. It surprised us that presenting our research was a lot of fun as we gained new research ideas and met interested people. However, we felt very exhausted after the poster sessions due to the low signal-to-noise ratio (incredibly loud and incessant noise).

By the end of our first day, we were more or less familiar with thousands of new abbreviations related to the conference itself and also to different research areas, e.g. GW is either used as groundwater or gravity wave. And after this first day of confusion, the EGU-app and even twitter turned out to be really helpful to schedule our time.

During the week, we also learned to appreciate the name badges as they were sometimes really helpful, when you accidentally run into famous people in your research area, who you have never met before. While attending short courses like “Rhyme your research” or “Serious games for Natural Hazards”, we met people from other disciplines as well. To survive the amount of input, we spent highly needed breaks in the sun by the river. During the breaks or at dinner, it was also great to catch up with new and old friends from summer schools etc. BTW, the food in Vienna is absolutely stunning.

Furthermore, we totally loved the Imaggeo photo contest – the pictures we voted for actually belonged to the winning pictures. Another must-see – at least in geodesy division – was the medal lecture on Thursday evening.

We will definitely come back next year! And the first thing Kerstin installs on her new mobile, is Twitter.


Edited by Katrin Bentel


Kristin Vielberg is a PhD student at the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn, Germany. Her research is on force modeling of satellites with the aim of better understanding the coupling of the thermosphere and the ionosphere. You can contact her at vielberg@geod.uni-bonn.de and her twitter handle is @KManyMountain.


Kerstin Schulze is a PhD student at the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn in Germany. She studies the assimilation of multiple data sets, including satellite and in-situ observations, into hydrological models. You can contact Kerstin at schulze@geod.uni-bonn.de and her twitter handle is @KExploringEarth.

Your scientific talk: mental breakdown or conference highlight?

Your scientific talk: mental breakdown or conference highlight?

After last years success, we’re again organizing a short course on presentation techniques. EGU GA 2016 participants who are interested in rehearsing their talk and getting feedback can sign up of for a rehearsal here (deadline 31 March 2016). Of course we welcome and encourage contributions from all divisions.

You can feel it coming, sometimes it kicks in days before your talk, at other times just moments before you climb the podium.  When it is at its peak, speech anxiety or, in scientific terms, glossophobia, may even have physical ramifications. Your heart rate raises, your breathing is irregular and your armpits are spraying sweat, or at least you think they are. In this state, your body is in an excellent shape to the one thing it considers sane: flee.

The problem is you can’t. You are a scientific speaker at a conference and there is an audience eagerly waiting to hear about your research. Some of us may be tempted to opt for something in between fleeing and presenting, but this usually results in someone hiding and whispering behind a lectern.  Alternatively, you have the option to look your speech anxiety in the face and tell yourself that it is an unavoidable part of your job as a scientist.

The good news is however, that this doesn’t need to affect the quality of your talk at all. On the contrary, your anxious state also enables you to be very alert and focused, which may actually help you delivering an excellent talk.

Besides your mental state, there are plenty of other issues, which influence the effectiveness of information-flow to your audience. Some of those are behavioral, such as making eye contact with your audience, stress parts of your talk by using your voice dynamically, or simply avoiding some ineffective habits like non-stop lightsabering your slides with a laser pointer.


On the more material side, you may consider structuring your presentation using narratives, making use of effective graphics and trying to eliminate those parts from your presentation which do not contribute to it. Just that someone at Microsoft thought it was a cool idea to offer transition effects like slides disintegrating in blocks and stars, doesn’t mean it was a good idea. Most people, including me, are not entertained by it but respond allergically to such slide transitions, resulting in an instant distraction from what you’re telling. You may also consider avoiding some fonts, which have the potential to cause political uproar. For some, seeing comicsans in your scientific presentation is like saying you like Obamacare in a GOPdebate.

In a nutshell, the single piece of advice for making a good presentation is the old boyscout credo: “Be prepared”. Once you prepared your presentation, you may want to check if it is effective and can be finished within the allocated time slot. Weathered speakers may know this from their experience, but even better is to rehearse your talk in front of group of friendly but critical peers. For a conference talk, the group would ideally consists of scientists from varying research fields, such that the audience better resembles reality. By rehearsing you (1) know whether your talk fits in the 12 minute limit, (2) can check if your main points came accross, and (3) see if your presentation material looks the way it is supposed to do.

The EGU 2016 short course 54 Presentation feedback round”, builds on the observation that doing a rehearsal is a very effective way of improving the quality of your talk, whilst building your confidence on the podium. Last year, we organized the short course for the first time, and the feedback encouraged us to organize this again. Bernd Uebbing, early career scientist and participant of last year’s round commented: “Very helpful general information on how to present scientific results in an interesting way combined with constructive individual feedback after my trial presentation; would recommend!”

The short course is set up as follows. After kicking off with an entertaining talk on presenting, registered participants will give their presentation after which there is time to receive feedback from the organizers and audience. In contrast to your actual conference talk, more time is scheduled for feedback and topics related to presentation skills will be given plenty of attention. Everybody is welcome to attend the short course, but we specifically invite scientists, notably early career scientists, to sign up for a try-out of their EGU talk (PICO or oral).

But even after attending our shortcourse, and being very well prepared, you’re climbing that podium and are still nervous. But now, you got what it takes to deliver a conference highlight.