Hydrological Sciences

Meeting and networking outside the EGU GA: feedback on the 2019 EGU Leonardo conference

Meeting and networking outside the EGU GA: feedback on the 2019 EGU Leonardo conference

In order to encourage cohesion and sustained dialogue among researchers outside the GA in Vienna, the EGU hosts a number of conference series, targeted at a specific disciplinary or interdisciplinary group within the Union.

Closely related to the HS Division is the Leonardo Conference series on Earth’s Hydrological Cycle. These meetings are organized by members of the division. They usually gather 80-120 participants and are organized in the fall, every two years. The idea is to allow the community to meet outside the GA in Vienna and focus on a specific topic of interest in hydrological sciences.

The 2019 edition of the Leonard Conference took place from 16-18 October at the Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology (LIST). It was organised in partnership with the University of Luxembourg (Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

The theme of the conference was ‘Global change, landscape ageing and the pulse of catchments’.

Presentations focussed around: Catchment structure, functioning and age; Catchment complexity and heterogeneity; Mesoscale experiments and environmental simulators. There were lively discussions on catchment evolution conceptualisation (reconciliation of catchment and model complexity), as well as (re-)connection of experimental hydrology and hydrological modelling.

What were the main highlights of the conference?

Markus Hrachowitz (Associate Professor at TU Delft; member of the Scientific Committee):

“I find these small(ish), very focussed topical conferences such as this EGU Leonardo Conference on catchment hydrology in Luxemburg very enjoyable and valuable. All contributions during this three-day event were of very high quality and the topics covered were highly relevant. The format and limited size of the conference also permitted, next to the formal presentations,  ample opportunity for friendly informal discussions and in-depth exchange of ideas with like-minded colleagues. On balance, this conference was more than worth attending, and it was for me a good example of how such conference formats can be highly valuable for the scientific community.”

Nilay Dogulu (ECS co-rep for the HS Division):

“The first time I heard about the 10th EGU Leonardo Conference was during the EGU HS Division meeting at EGU 2019 in Vienna. It didn’t spark my interest – I thought it was not well aligned with my research focus. As a data-driven hydrologist (with BSc in civil engineering) using methods from computational statistics and machine learning, I always felt the need to fill in my knowledge of catchment hydrology to improve my (hydrological) process understanding.

EGU General Assembly has many sessions taking place at the same time. It is difficult for one to follow those sessions whose focus fall even a “little” behind your main research interests. Being a regular participant since 2014, I hardly managed to catch up with all the many sessions that I carefully picked up from the programme. Of course, I mostly had to skip those sessions which could have been quite helpful to support my purpose. The EGU Leonardo conference was different: one room, no parallel sessions, ~100 participants.

When I saw the “call for abstracts” email on late June, I didn’t delete the email for a long while (I just couldn’t). The deadline passed and I didn’t submit any abstract. Reading the next email on abstract submission deadline extension (until 17 Aug 2019) in my inbox on 2 Aug 2019 (at 19:17), I just knew that I should try. I decided to take the courage of sharing openly the philosophical basis of my PhD research, and to a difference audience than the usual. Isn’t it, the naïve purpose of attending conferences, to inspire and to be inspired by?

So I travelled to Luxembourg and enjoyed a very compact conference with a friendly group of catchment hydrologists (including a 9-months old baby fellow:). This three-day conference helped me learn “biology” of catchments, and urged those visiting my poster to keep in mind “psychology” of catchments, too. I met a whole new bunch of hydrologists studying catchments around Europe (and beyond) and listened very interesting presentations (and terminology too, which I wouldn’t have pushed myself to learn otherwise!).

The main point is: knowledge outside of your research bubble may inspire the mind in diverse ways. Hydrological sciences is evolving into a new stage where (sub)disciplinary diversity, knowledge integration and collaboration will bring the most sparkling progress much needed for seeing the greater picture now AND into an uncertain future.”

Antoine Pelletier (PhD candidate at Irstea, France):

“As a PhD candidate, attending this conference was a good opportunity to present my work in front of many eminent hydrologists and other early career scientists. I was really impressed by the breadth of topics covered by the talks and posters, from water quantity and quality modelling to experimental hydrology. Before coming to the conference, I could not imagine that there were so many in-field experiments and that their results could be so useful to tackle our modelling problems! Neither was I aware that Luxembourg is a place full of academic opportunities, where I would enjoy going back for this kind of events.”

Lieke Melsen (Assistant Professor at Wageningen University; member of the Scientific Committee):

“For me, the core point of attention of the 10th EGU Leonardo Conference was the non-stationarity of the hydrologic system, or perhaps, of our environment as a whole. If our environment changes, what does that mean for our science and our understanding of the system? Only during the conference I fully realized what an interesting overarching question this is, and why it is a good idea to start off with such a theme, rather than with themes that are subdivided based on the methods employed – as is often the case at EGU. As a modeller, I always end up visiting the modelling sessions at EGU, but, during the Leonardo Conference, I saw the full spectrum of employed methods in hydrological sciences pass across the stage, all related to this one question of changes over time. It inspired me to see so much fieldwork, tracer studies, and different perspectives. Although, in the end, as a modeller, I still distilled a specific question related to my own background and research line: if our environment changes over time, shouldn’t our models change over time as well? Enough food for thought.”

Visit the conference website.

Currently, there are two ongoing Special issues in leading EGU Journals, which are well aligned with the topics of the 2019 Leonardo Conference and thus provide an ideal outlet for key contributions:

Additional info:

On EGU Leonardo Conferences:

  • Visit the EGU website.
  • If you want to propose an EGU co-sponsored Leonardo Conference for 2021, expressions of interest should be sent to hs@egu.eu by May 15 2020.

Additional EGU meetings that can be related to HS can be found in the Galileo Conference series.The next HS-related meetings planned for 2020 are:

Maria-Helena Ramos
Maria-Helena Ramos is a research scientist in hydrology and hydrometeorology at the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE) in France. She is president of the EGU Division on Hydrological Sciences (HS) since April 2019.

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