GeoLog
Olivia Trani

Olivia Trani

Olivia Trani is the Communications Officer at the European Geosciences Union. She is responsible for the management of the Union's social media presence and the EGU blogs, where she writes regularly for the EGU's official blog, GeoLog. She is also the point of contact for early career scientists (ECS) at the EGU Office. Olivia has a MS in Science Journalism from Boston University and her work has appeared on WBUR-FM, Inside Science News Service, and the American Geophysical Union. Olivia tweets at @oliviatrani.

GeoTalk: Making their mark: how humans and rivers impact each other

GeoTalk: Making their mark: how humans and rivers impact each other

Geotalk is a regular feature highlighting early career researchers and their work. In this interview we speak to Serena Ceola, a hydrologist and assistant professor at the University of Bologna, Italy, who studies interactions between humans and river systems. At the upcoming General Assembly she will be recognised for her research contributions as the recipient of the 2019 Hydrological Sciences Division Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award.

Thanks for talking to us today! Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little more about your career path so far?

I was born in Padova, Italy, and studied environmental engineering at the University of Padova, from which I obtained a master’s degree in 2009. Since my bachelor’s studies, I was fascinated by hydrology: both my bachelor’s and master’s thesis dealt with the availability of river discharge, which is the amount of water flowing through a river channel.

Then, in 2009 I moved to Lausanne in Switzerland and I continued my studies with a PhD at the Laboratory of Ecohydrology of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). My PhD thesis focused on the implications of river discharge availability on river ecosystems (namely algae and macroinvertebrates). Since 2013, I have been based at the University of Bologna, Italy, currently as a junior assistant professor. Now my main research project focuses on the relationship between river discharge availability and human activities, both at local and global scales.

Serena Ceola collecting benthic macroinvertebrates used for a small-scale flume experiment in Lunz-Am-See, Austria. (Photo Credits: Serena Ceola)

What got you interested in environmental engineering and hydrology? What brought you to study this particular field?

Studying environmental engineering was the perfect trade-off between being an engineer and focusing on environment sustainability and protection. During my studies I have developed a forma mentis that allows me to quantitatively solve (or try, at least) any issue. Since I was always fascinated by water, hydrology was my ideal choice. I must also say that my professors played a key role: their enthusiasm and passion overwhelmed me, involving me in such a fascinating subject.

At this year’s General Assembly, you will receive the Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award in the Hydrological Sciences Division for your contributions to understanding of the relationship between river environments and human activities. Could you tell us more about your research in this field and its importance?

River discharge has always been my main research focus. During the last 10 years, I had the unique opportunity to focus on the possible implications of river discharge .

Human activities, such as dam development, deforestation, agriculture, urbanization, etc. are known to affect how much flowing water is available to river ecosystems. In particular, I realised that no one before had conducted a quantitative analysis of how human-derived modifications to the natural flow of a river could possibly affect its environment.

Flume experimental facilities. (Photo Credits: Serena Ceola)

During my PhD, I performed an experiment by building small artificial rivers aimed at quantitatively estimating how

stream algae and macroinvertebrates respond to two flow regimes, one influenced by human activity and one unaffected. The unaffected river regime was naturally variable while the other was constant, like downstream a dam.

The experimental results were promising, thus allowing me to develop an analytical model capable of reproducing observed biological data in a real river network, also proving its applicability in presence of anthropogenic influence.

Hydrologic controls on basin-scale distribution of benthic invertebrates: study area and average habitat suitability values for a mayfly species. Image redrawn from Ceola et al., 2014, WRR, https://doi.org/10.1002/2013WR015112

When focusing on human activities, it is extremely important to estimate the interrelations between humans and waters. Here, I was lucky enough to start working with satellite data measuring the distribution of human population in space and time across the globe. By using satellite nightlight images, I analysed the spatial and temporal evolution of human presence close to streams and river. When considering extreme events like floods, I also had the opportunity to identify the regions most at risk for flood deaths and damage to infrastructure.

At the General Assembly, you plan to give a talk about working with global high-resolution datasets, such as nightlight data, to better understand how human and water systems affect each other. What are some of the possibilities made available through this kind of analysis? What doors does this research open, so to speak?

Working with global high-resolution datasets, and in particular with datasets covering several years, allows one to analyse and inspect how human processes and hydrological processes have evolved and interacted in time. This kind of analysis offers the opportunity to study how human pressure on river flows has changed over time and examine urbanization processes influenced for instance by proximity to rivers. This method also allows researchers to analyze how people move as a consequence of climatic conditions, such as extreme floods or droughts.

Spatial evolution of human presence close to stream and rivers by using satellite nightlight images. Image taken from Ceola et al., 2015, WRR, https://doi.org/10.1002/2015WR017482

Before I let you go, what are some of the biggest lessons you have learned so far as a researcher? What advice would you impart to aspiring scientists?

Based on my experience so far my first recommendation is “Be passionate!” Since you will spend a lot of time (days and nights) on a research project, it is fundamental that you love what you are doing. Although sometimes it is difficult and you cannot see any positive outcome, be bold and keep working on your ideas. Then, search for data to support your ideas and scientific achievements (although sometimes it is quite challenging and time-consuming!), but this proves that your research ideas are correct. Interact with colleagues, ask them if your ideas are reasonable and create your research network. Finally, work and collaborate with inspiring colleagues, who guide and support your research activities (I had and still have the pleasure to work with fantastic mentoring people)!

Interview by Olivia Trani, EGU Communications Officer

Presenting at the General Assembly 2019: A quick ‘how to’ from the EGU

Presenting at the General Assembly 2019: A quick ‘how to’ from the EGU

The schedule is out, presentation slots have been assigned and it’s time to start thinking about putting yours together. Whether you have an oral, poster or PICO slot, we have a suite of simple guidelines to get you ready for the conference!

Orals

The guidelines for oral presentations are online. All oral presentations should have the dimensions 16:9 or 4:3 and last about 12 minutes, with 3 minutes for questions. Oral presentations take place over four 105-minute time blocks. Make sure you’re in the presentation room approximately 30 minutes before your time block starts, so your presentation can be uploaded or so you can connect your laptop to the system. There will be a lecture room assistant to help you get everything ready.

Posters

Guidelines for poster presentations are also online. Importantly, the poster boards landscape and are 1978 mm by 1183 mm. Posters should be hung between 08:00 and 08:30 on the day of your scheduled poster presentation using tape available from roaming assistants. Please retrieve your poster at the end of the day (between 19:00 and 19:30). Those that are not collected will be disposed of. By the start of the General Assembly, EGU will have sent your Authors in Attendance Time – during this time, you must be present at your display.

If there is a gap in the corresponding oral session, conveners may call upon poster presenters to give a short ad hoc summary of their posters. Therefore, it might be useful to have a couple of slides (1-2) prepared in advance to help illustrate your findings.

PICOs

For the seventh year now we have a different kind of presentation: Presenting Interactive COntent (PICO). The guidelines for PICO presentations are available online. PICO sessions combine the best of oral and poster presentations. Every PICO author presents their slides in a “2 minutes madness”. After these short presentations, all attendees have enough time to watch the presentation again on interactive screens and hold discussions with the author and other attendees. These presentations are shown on wide-screens, so we recommend producing Power Point or PDF presentations with an 16:9 aspect ratio. However, you can also prepare your presentation in the classic 4:3 format. The extra space is then used for the branding of the contribution as well as the navigation. For 16:9 presentations, if navigation buttons are needed, our PICO staff on-site at the conference determines the position of the buttons together with you, so they don’t detract from your presentation. One thing to keep in mind is that, unlike in the past, PICO presentations no longer support Prezi.

For tips on how to make a PICO presentation, why not download the How to make a PICO guide. For a first-hand account of what it’s like to take part in a PICO session, take a look at this post by early career scientists in the Seismology Division too.

Outstanding Student Poster and PICO (OSPP) Awards

If you are presenting a poster or PICO at the upcoming General Assembly you can have your presentation considered for an OSPP Award. Check out one of our earlier blog posts to learn more on how to register yourself for the award, as well as a watch our interview with OSPP judges explaining what they look for in a winning poster.

Social media guidelines

The EGU encourages an open dialogue on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) and blogging platforms during the General Assembly. The default assumption is to allow open discussion of General Assembly oral, PICO, and poster presentations on social media. However, you can request that the contents of your presentation are not disseminated on social media. The icons below may be downloaded from the EGU General Assembly website to include on slides or posters to clearly express if you do or do not want your results posted on any social media networks or blogs.

So that conference participants can embrace social media while at the same time remaining respectful of presenting authors’ work and protecting their research output, we’ve put together some social media guidelines, which you can find on the EGU 2019 website.

Time Blocks

Timetabling at the General Assembly is organised into the following time blocks:

  • TB1 08:30–10:15
  • TB2 10:45–12:30
  • TB3 14:00–15:45
  • TB4 16:15–18:00
  • TB5: 18:00-19:00

There is free tea and coffee available in the poster halls in the breaks between TB1 & TB2 and TB3 & TB4. TB5 5 offers refreshments, and is dedicated to networking and additional poster viewing.

No-shows

If you already know that your abstract will not be presented, you are kindly requested to withdraw your corresponding abstract as soon as possible.

Imaggeo on Mondays: Exploring the underground cryosphere

Imaggeo on Mondays: Exploring the underground cryosphere

The winter season is a good time to take advantage of cold weather activities, whether that’s hitting the ski slopes or warming up by a fire, but for Renato R. Colucci, it’s also one of the best time’s to study the Earth’s underground cryosphere.

Colucci, who took this featured photograph, is a researcher at Italian Institute for Marine Sciences (ISMAR) of the National Research Council (CNR) and is a scientific lead partner for the Cave’s Cryosphere and Climate project, C3 for short. The C3 project aims to monitor, study, date, and model alpine ice cave environments.

This photo was taken by Colucci while he and the C3 project team were surveying a large ice deposit in the Vasto cave, situated within the Southeastern Alps of Italy. Speleologists of the E. Boegan Cave Commission began documenting the caves in this region in the 1960s, making it a great site for studying underground cryosphere today. For the past few years the C3 team has been monitoring the microclimates of these caves as well as analysing how the ice masses within are melting and accumulating ice.

There are many different kinds of ice deposits in caves, but the main difference is how these types accumulate their frozen mass. For some cave ice deposits, like the one featured in this photo, the snowfall that reaches the cave interior amasses over time into solid layers of ice, as is typical for many glaciers. However, other deposits take form when water from melting snow or rain percolates through rock’s voids and fractures, then freezes and accumulates into permanent ice bodies in caves.

These high-altitude underground sources of ice are a lesser-known faction of the cryosphere since they are not very common or reachable to scientists, but still an important one. Often the permanent ice deposits in caves contain pivotal information on how Earth’s climate has evolved over time during the Holocene.

However, if the Earth’s global temperatures keep increasing, this data might not be available in the future. While ice masses in caves are more resilient to climate change compared to their aboveground counterparts, many of these deposits, and the vital data they store, are melting away at an accelerating rate. “Global warming is rapidly destroying such important archives,” said Colucci.

Through this project, the researchers involved hope to better understand the palaeoclimate information stored in these deposits and how the ice will respond to future climate change.

By Olivia Trani, EGU Communications Officer

Imaggeo is the EGU’s online open access geosciences image repository. All geoscientists (and others) can submit their photographs and videos to this repository and, since it is open access, these images can be used for free by scientists for their presentations or publications, by educators and the general public, and some images can even be used freely for commercial purposes. Photographers also retain full rights of use, as Imaggeo images are licensed and distributed by the EGU under a Creative Commons licence. Submit your photos at http://imaggeo.egu.eu/upload/.

EGU 2019: Connect at the Networking & Early Career Scientists’ Zone

EGU 2019: Connect at the Networking & Early Career Scientists’ Zone

The EGU General Assembly, the largest geoscience conference in Europe, attracts more than 15,000 participants every year. While there are countless opportunities throughout the week to meet new people and reconnect with colleagues, the convention centre can be overwhelming, especially for early career scientists (ECS) and first-time attendees.

The Networking & Early Career Scientists’ Zone (formerly called the Early Career Scientists Lounge) on the Red Level of the conference centre is the perfect place to catch up with your peers and make new connections in a more relaxed setting.

Early Career Scientists checking the notice boards at the EGU General Assembly 2018 (Credit: Stephanie Zihms)

Early career scientists across all fields are encouraged to meet there to grab a coffee, hold informal discussions and perhaps even find opportunities for collaborations. Additionally, we hope that mentors and mentees participating in the General Assembly Mentoring Programme, as well as other meeting participants interested in networking, will meet here.

Stay up-to-date

Be sure to check out the zone’s community notice boards, where you can find information on various topics, like cultural activities in Vienna and division social events, taking place during the week of the conference. Your feedback to the ECS representatives is very welcome and can be posted on the suggestion boards too. You can also post your own flyers here to highlight sessions and events taking place throughout the week.

Attend and organise pop-up events

The Networking & ECS Zone also hosts a series of pop-up style events, from using poetry to communicate your science to giving research elevator pitches. Be sure to check out the notice boards to find more info on what drop-in sessions are scheduled for the week.

Interested in holding your own drop-in session? Participants are encouraged to organise pop-up events in the zone as well! A whiteboard, flipchart, and 42” screen with a notebook attached will be available in the main room for attendees to give ad-hoc presentations, plus two side room ‘pop-up spots’ can be used to hold informal sessions.

If you’d like to add a drop-in session to our schedule, you can contact the EGU communications officer with the pop-up event title, date, and time by 18 March. If you’d rather hold an impromptu session, such as a follow-up event to an over-subscribed short course, never fear! During the conference you can plan and host informal events on the spot; a sign-up sheet on the zone’s notice boards will be available for advertising drop-in sessions.

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 7 to 12 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website and follow the Assembly’s online conversation on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.