Hydrological Sciences

A personal view on EGU 2019 – an edition like no other

This year Vienna was (for me) awfully cold. Sitting in the sun in the midst of happy conference attendees was definitively not an option at EGU this year. Due to the new EGU schedule with parallel sessions and longer oral sessions, making it until the lunch break was also a big challenge, at least for someone like me, who has more of a northern lifestyle. Luckily, this year posters were scheduled all day round, so we had a good reason to stay inside and stroll around the poster hall or visit the PICO areas. By the way, the conference organizers had apparently anticipated the cold spell … and decided to have “Antarctica” as a theme for the conveners’ party on Friday evening.

But these are all details, of course. Let’s rather highlight more important changes we had in this EGU 2019 edition: there is finally a room for breastfeeding and EGU now has a person of trust to report misconduct during the conference. One and a half years after #metoo, this is an important step.

And if you also attended EGU2019, you may have noticed the preferred pronouns badges, introduced this year to make everyone more comfortable in addressing colleagues you meet for the first time. To some of us this was maybe rather unusual. In my home university in Switzerland, there is a large student campaign going on (“not binary – extraordinary”), and, although I would never have guessed that, in some European countries, gender specific toilets have apparently already gone. It is nice to see that EGU is supporting these initiatives.

And how is EGU doing on the outreach side? Media attention is certainly growing every year. Not surprisingly, many stories about glacier retreat have made it into the news. Have you read in your local newspaper about the fallout radionuclides from thawing glaciers? Interestingly, this news came from a poster presentation (by C. Clason), which underlines the fact that posters at EGU can be just as impactful as oral presentations.

I should probably have a last thought on the science at EGU2019 – after all, that’s why we come together. As every year, I got great ideas and aha-moments when I least expected it: while sitting with my computer in a conference room, not really listing carefully to what was going on, but embedded in all the science talks and networking exchanges. For me, these are one of those unique moments, when your brain all of sudden captures something that enlightens you about a tiny little aspect of your work and that makes you feel happy about your entire EGU week.

Bettina Schaefli
Bettina Schaefli is a professor for hydrology at University of Bern (Switzerland). She was the head of the Catchment Hydrology Subdivision of EGU from 2016-2019 and was an editor of Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (2008-2022). She has been the lead editor of the Hydrology Blog since 2018.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks, interesting to read another attendees perspectives on the conference.


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