#vEGU21 is over and it was an intense two-week period for many of us. Whether you occasionally zapped in or kept your whole last week free to join online, you certainly have heard a lot about it.
Here I have collected a few reflections from the events related to the hydrological sciences division.
The conference first week
The first week presented several Union-wide debates and sessions.
- We learned a lot about diversity and inclusiveness (or how to prevent discrimination) in Geosciences. For instance, did you know that among the high-impact geoscience articles published each year, only 3.9% are on an African topic? And only 30% of these African articles contain an African author?
- EGU EDI-related sessions are always very enlightening. In SC2.8 (Promoting diversity in geosciences), the speakers discussed, among others, ‘colonial science’ and critical aspects of ‘helicopter research’ (flying in to collect samples and flying out to analyze the samples and publish the results with little involvement of local scientists), as well as the ways to address related problems through more involvement of local scientists already at the co-creation stage of a research proposal.
- Policy-relevant sessions also took place during EGU21. During the Union session US1 (Integrating geoscience into the European Green Deal), we discussed how citizen assemblies (citizens groups that interact with a range of experts, practitioners and stakeholders) can help unlock more effective action and draw recommendations for policy; how they enable more inclusive science for policy actions and can foster the implementation of transformative pathways to climate resilience in our societies.
We also had the 2020 and 2021 medal and awards lectures:
- Xavier Sanchez-Vila (Henry Darcy Medal Lecture 2020) talked about how groundwater complexity is a mesmerizing research topic, and showed us how we can approach it with analogies to how painters create their artworks.
- Berit Arheimer (Henry Darcy Medal Lecture 2021) focused on hydrological modelling and water management, and how it has evolved strongly linked to societal challenges, moving us today towards open science, open services and emerging needs on science communication.
- Andreas Hartmann (Arne Richter Award for Outstanding ECS Lecture 2020) gave us unique insights on how to deal with karst hydrology, with a very interesting journey through the many aspects of this research topic, from observations to modelling at different scales.
- Amilcare Porporato (John Dalton Medal Lecture 2020) highlighted the importance of the iterative process between our hypotheses and results, which requires a constant reality check with the help of field data, laboratory data and model-based simulations.
- Brian Berkowitz (John Dalton Medal Lecture 2021) discussed key concepts on universality, criticality, random walks and the interplay between time and space, with a close look to theory versus models, emphasizing how models can be right (good fit) but still irrelevant with respect to patterns, processes and physical laws: do we know what to look for?
- Matteo Giuliani (HS Division Outstanding ECS Award Lecture 2021) introduced a different layer of complexity to hydrological systems: how policy and management interact, and how human behavior and decisions, as important drivers in natural systems, can bring additional information to our models and shape pathways to alternative futures.
Congratulations to all the medalists and awardees and many thanks for their presentations, which are available on video for reply to all vEGU21 registered participants until the end of the month (MAL14a and MAL14b).
The annual HS Division Business meeting took place on 22 April. The division welcomes two new subdivision chairs and a new ECS representative. We also have new officers who volunteered to help with outreach and communication, medals/award evaluation committees and many other activities. Check them all in the presentation that you can download from here.
The conference second week
The second week started with an unfortunate breakdown of the original vPICO format on Monday morning. Many people worked very hard to put in place the ‘Plan B’, where we switched to Zoom to allow the scientific sessions to take place and the science to continue to be shared.
We apologize for the sessions heavily affected and say a big thank you to the many conveners who worked hard so we could run the week (more or less) smoothly.
The sessions ran based on the 2-min vPICO presentations and breakout discussions. According to the size and topics of the sessions, conveners chaired their sessions differently:
- some chose to organize individual breakout rooms for each presenter;
- others grouped abstracts of similar topics to larger breakout rooms;
- others divided their session in parts, alternating groups of vPICO presentations and breakout rooms.
The positive side was that many teams of conveners worked more closely together to run their sessions this year than in previous years. Experienced conveners were valuable as well as the rapidity of Early Career Scientists conveners to adapt to the new format and to handle the different audio/video settings. Mixed convener teams, with experienced and early career scientists, were a real asset this year.
We received a diversity of comments on the vEGU format and content.
- Some people like the 2-min talks (better than 10-min talks); others think it is too fast. It was mentioned that something in between would be better, such as a 4-min talks.
- Some authors prefer individual breakout rooms as they feel better discussing their work with smaller groups; others felt a bit lonely or uneasy in their individual rooms and 1:1 chats.
- Many people regretted that several presenters were basically presenting a poster and not a 1-slide with key (and attractive) information. Visually, this poster format was too much text and info for a 2-min talk.
- Also, it was apparently not clear to all presenters that they could have a separate slide for the 2-min talk and an additional PICO file as display material; accordingly, some presentations had no additional material. It also became clear during the week that uploading only a video as display material might not be ideal because it cannot be viewed in parallel to the real-time discussion.
- Chat rooms or not chat rooms? There was a mix of opinions there too: some said they really like better the text-based chat discussions (as we did in EGU 2020), while others enjoyed having video/audio in the Zoom breakout rooms. A key reason against individual Zoom breakout rooms was that some authors got stuck in their room while they would have liked to interact with other authors (the online text-based chat format is more flexible for that, of course).
There is also more discussion on Twitter and you should definitely leave your opinion there too, if not already done:
In general, feedback was positive and many participants said they expect hybrid meetings in the future: a mix of online and on-site sessions.
We were all impressed by the enthusiasm and participation: over 18,000 participants this year, including 5,000 waived registrations for students and participants from low and lower-middle income countries. Diversity and inclusiveness in geosciences are our priorities, and this online format, where all authors have the chance to orally present their work, has certainly represented a big step towards it.
We are all definitely missing Vienna and looking forward to the EGU General Assembly in 2022 (3-8 April 2022).
- Union sessions, medals/awards sessions and short courses were recorded for on-demand watching. Registered participants can replay them until 31 May.
- For the scientific sessions, display materials are available for visualization and commenting until 31 May.