EGU GA 2015

Looking back at the EGU Blogs in 2015: welcoming new additions

Looking back at the EGU Blogs in 2015: welcoming new additions

It’s a little over 12 months since we launched the new look EGU blogs and with the holidays and new year approaching, what better time to take stock of 2015 as featured in the EGU Blogs? The past year has been full of exciting, insightful and informative blog posts. At the same time, we’ve welcomed new additions to the network and division blogs.

The network blogs

A recent highlight of the year has to be the addition of a new blog to the network: please welcome our new blogger Professor David Pyle, author of VolcanicDegassing – a blog about volcanoes and volcanic activity. In 2016 you can look forward to posts about David’s ongoing research in Latin America, the Caribbean, Ethiopia and Europe, as well as historical and contemporary descriptions or other representations of volcanic activity across the globe.

Vesuvius in eruption, April 26, 1872. Original caption ‘from a photograph taken in the neighbourhood of Naples”. (Palmieri and Mallet, 1873). Published in the Decemeber 15th post:  'The first volcanic eruption to be photographed?'

Vesuvius in eruption, April 26, 1872. Original caption ‘from a photograph taken in the neighbourhood of Naples”. (Palmieri and Mallet, 1873). Published in the Decemeber 15th post: ‘The first volcanic eruption to be photographed?

Richly illustrated and referenced posts have featured across the network throughout the year, with topics ranging from the journey aerosol particles go on throughout their life time, through to the role peculiarities of geology and geomorphology play in deciding on big international governance.

The most popular post written in 2015 was brought to you by Jon Tennant and featured the ichthyosaurs, an unusual turtle-fish-dolphin like marine reptile which cruised the seas 250 million years ago. The post focuses on the discovery of an ichthyosaur fossil named David, or rather Cartorhynchus lenticarpu as it is formally known, and how the remarkable specimen sheds light on the origins of these unusual creatures.

Matt Herod’s post on Geosphere in early December 2014 featuring the story behind the legal battle of Italian geochemists who were sued after publishing results stating that they could not find above background levels of depleted uranium in former Italian military firing ranges, is the second most read post across the network in the past year. With a strong resemblance to the L’Aquila verdict against the Italian seismologists, which was resolved in 2014, Matt highlights there are lessons to be learnt from both cases in the post.

Natural hazards and the April 2015 Nepal earthquakes featured heavily across the network too. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Geology for Global Development blog compiled a comprehensive list of links and resources which readers could consult to find out up to date and reliable information about the events in Nepal. A list which is still a useful resource some 8 months after the tragedy and which is the third most popular post on the network this year. Simon Redfern, of Atom’s Eye View of the Planet, wrote a piece on how and why scientists have identified Kathmandu valley as one of the most dangerous places in the world, in terms of earthquake risk.

With many of the network bloggers being in the thick of PhD research or having recently submitted their thesis, tips and hints for a successful PhD completion also proved a focus of the content across the network. Despite being originally written in April 2013, Jon Tennant’s blog post on why and how masters students should publish their research was the most popular post of the year! The most read post from Geology Jenga advertised a new, and free, online course on how to survive the PhD journey.

The division blogs

Since their launch last December, the division blogs have gone from strength to strength. Keeping you updated with news and information relevant to each division, they have also featured accounts of field and laboratory work, as well as professional development opportunities and open vacancies.

Throughout the year the division blogs have been enhanced through the addition of the Atmospheric Sciences, Energy Resources and Environment blogs and, most recently, the Biogeosciences Division blog too.

Cross-section of the age of the Greenland Ice Sheet from radar data. Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio and MacGregor et al., 2015.

Cross-section of the age of the Greenland Ice Sheet from radar data. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio and MacGregor et al., 2015.

The most popular post of the year was shared by the Seismology Division and touched upon the controversial topic of whether cloud formations can be used to predict earthquakes, while the Cryosphere Division blog’s image of the week of late October featuring a cross section of the Greenland Ice Sheet was the second most popular post. Round-up posts about the 2015 General Assembly, tips for convening sessions at the conference, as shared by Geodesy Division, and some soul searching by the Geomorphology Division as to why a proposed session wasn’t included in the final conference programme also proved very popular.

Get involved

Are you a budding science writer, or want to try your hand at science communication? All the EGU Blogs, from GeoLog (the official EGU blog), through to the network and division blogs, welcome guest contributions from scientists, students and professionals in the Earth, planetary and space sciences.

It couldn’t be easier to get involved. Decide what you’d like to write about, find the blog that is the best fit for your post and contact the blog editor – you can find all editor details on the individual blog pages. If in doubt, you can submit your idea for a post via the Submit a Post page on GeoLog, or email the EGU Communications Officer, Laura Roberts, who can help with initial enquiries and introduce you to individual blog editors.

Don’t forget to a look at the blog pages for a flavour of the content you can expect from the new, and existing, blogs in 2016. The blogs are also a great place to learn about new opportunities, exciting fields of research and keep up to date with news relating to the upcoming 2016 General Assembly.

GeoTalk: Anastasia Tezari – understanding space weather

GeoTalk: Anastasia Tezari – understanding space weather

Weather – it dictates the clothes we wear, is engrained in our culture, shapes our seasons and plays an important role in our daily lives. Not only that, its long term forecast and understanding of its variability, is the focus of much research as it holds one of the keys to understanding the Earth’s past and future. Earthly weather has an altogether less familiar, but not less fascinating and important, extra-terrestrial cousin: space weather. In this month’s GeoTalk interview we talk to Anastasia Tezari, a masters student at the University of Athens, whose work on understating this phenomenon was recognised by the Solar Terrestrial Science Division at the 2015 General Assembly.

Anastasia, before we get going, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your research so far?

I hold a B.Sc. in Physics with a specialty in Nuclear and Particle Physics awarded by the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. After attending many courses, I decided to select cosmic radiation as the main subject of my research. I received a proper training on experimental methods and gained significant research experience at the Athens Neutron Monitor Station (A.Ne.Mo.S.) in collaboration with the Neutron Monitor Database (NMDB) and as a member of the Athens Cosmic Ray Group, supervised by Emeritus Prof. Helen Mavromichalaki.

Currently, I am a M.Sc. student in the field of Environmental Health at the University of Athens Medical School, studying about the way environment impacts on our health, and specifically the biological effects of space weather. My research interests liein the field of cosmic radiation and space weather forecasting. Many technological and biological effects can be interpreted in terms of different solar and cosmic phenomena.

At the same time, I am also a private tutor for children for physics and maths. I really enjoy taking long walks with my dogs, trekking, going to concerts and travelling around the world!

As we touch upon in the introduction, most of us are very familiar with earthly weather. What is space weather and how is it different?

The term space weather was introduced in 1950s but it was not before 1990s that came to common usage. It describes the ways that the Sun and the solar wind specifically affect the environmental conditions in Earth’s atmosphere and magnetosphere and includes various solar and cosmic ray phenomena. These phenomena can have several impacts on earth’s climate, for example cloud formation, on technological systems, such as electronics on satellites and spacecrafts, communications systems and GPS, but can also have impacts on human health especially for astronauts and aircraft crews.

At the General Assembly in 2015, the Solar-Terrestrial Sciences Division awarded you with the Outstanding Student Poster Award for your work on cosmic radiation and space weather forecasting. Can you tell us a little more about the work you presented at the conference and its implications?

My work for the EGU2015 concerns the study of the Cosmic Ray Modulation and specifically the diurnal anisotropy of the cosmic ray intensity. Diurnal anisotropy is a short-term variation which is due to the rotation of the Earth around its axis and the way different places on Earth “measure” the cosmic ray intensity, as the geographic coordinates of the detectors are of great importance. In order to study the diurnal variation and its characteristics, we used data from the Neutron Monitor Stations of the University of Athens (Greece) and the University of Oulu (Finland), two stations of about the same geographic longitude but different geographic latitude.

This is the Heliosphere, the outer atmosphere of the Sun, in which all the phenomena related to Space Weather take place. You can see the solar wind that streams to every direction in a spiral formation reaching the Earth that is rotating around its axis. This is the mechanism that creates the phenomenon of diurnal anisotropy of cosmic ray intensity.

This is the Heliosphere, the outer atmosphere of the Sun, in which all the phenomena related to Space Weather take place. You can see the solar wind that streams to every direction in a spiral formation reaching the Earth that is rotating around its axis. This is the mechanism that creates the phenomenon of diurnal anisotropy of cosmic ray intensity.

The activity of the Sun changes periodically from maximum to minimum conditions forming the so- called solar cycle which is an 11-year variation. During the different phases of the solar cycle, diurnal anisotropy variations are observed, which are correlated to the solar cycle. There are also variations of the diurnal anisotropy during extreme solar and cosmic ray events, such as GLEs, Forbush decreases and geomagnetic storms, which are interpreted in different ways by each station.These results can be useful for long-term space weather monitoring and biomagnetic studies.

Today, ground based neutron monitors remain the state-of-the-art instrumentation for measuring cosmic rays. The Cosmic-Ray Station of the Athens University (A.Ne.Mo.S.) is unique in the Balkan area and the east part of the Mediterranean Sea and was among the first stations in the worldwide Neutron Monitor Network to provide real time data online. Since 2003, a data processing center (Athens Neutron Monitor Data Processing Center – ANMODAP) collecting data from 23 real time NM stations together with satellite data from ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) & GOES (Geostationary Satellite Server) is operated at the Athens NM station. Today it provides accurate data with resolution up to 1 sec and a real time GLE-Alert System, which is a Ground Level Enhancement alarm system.

Most attendees at the EGU General Assembly are at PhD level, or above. The EGU encourages the attendance of both undergraduate and masters students to the conference. As a masters student, how did you find the experience of presenting at an international conference?


Anastasia presented her work at EGU 2015. (Credit: Anastasia Tezari)

The EGU2015 is actually the first conference (national or international) that I participated actively via a poster presentation. In the beginning, I was really anxious about doing this and was definitely out of my comfort zone, but due to the huge support of my professor and friends, I took the big step. The experience was really rewarding as I had the chance to defend my work for the first time and interact with so many scientists from different disciplines and different countries. Despite the size of the event, it was organised very well, so I was able to attend many workshops and follow all the breakthroughs in science. I also got to see Vienna, which I can confirm is one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe and made a lot of new “international” friends!

Do you have any words of advice for students who are planning on attending the EGU 2016 General Assembly?

The advice is one and only: you definitely have to attend the EGU2016! It is by far the greatest conference you will be able to participate. It is a great chance to exchange knowledge and ideas with so many other scientists, as well as get advice that can contribute to your studies and research from different scientific fields. So, continue doing what you really enjoy, work hard and don’t wait to reach a PhD level in order to participate in such a conference. Just be well-prepared as the questions concerning your work can be really tough! And don’t forget to enjoy yourself in Vienna!

Imaggeo on Mondays: Drilling a landslide

Imaggeo on Mondays: Drilling a landslide

That landslides are hazardous goes without saying; the risk posed by them will largely depend on where they occur and their exact characteristics, which makes understanding the mechanisms which trigger them, as well as predicting when they might happen, extremely difficult. Today’s Imaggeo on Mondays image, brought to you by Ekrem Canli, a PhD student at the University of Vienna, is an example of how scientists are trying to get a better handle on landslide mechanics.

The Salcher landslide is situated in the transition zone between the Flyschzone and the Klippen Zone; both belonging to the most landslide prone areas in Austria exhibiting almost 5 landslides per km². Flysch materials in that area consist of alternations of fine grained layers (clayey shales, silty shales, marls) and sandstones, whereas the Klippen Zone is covered by a sequence of marly beds with intercalated sandy limestones.

Our featured Imaggeo picture shows students during field work at the Salcher landslide observatory in Gresten (Austria) extracting sediment cores from percussion drilling – a technique in which core samplers are driven into the soil by repeated hammer blows using a percussive drilling rig.

The Salcher landslide observatory was initiated in 2014 as a long term monitoring project (10+ years). On the one hand, an increased frequency of landslide occurrences in many parts of the world is commonly listed as an expected impact of human-induced climate change. On the other hand, the lack of historic or long term monitoring information on landsliding makes is difficult to correlate landslide occurrence and its triggering event (e.g. intense rainfall, ground vibrations) with past and potentially future conditions. Additionally, most landslides are not in a constantly active state – meaning they are at rest and not moving downslope – but are only reactivated after certain triggering events before they eventually come to a halt again. This dormant state may cover several years or even longer, which most landslide monitoring efforts do not cover so far. Consequently, monitoring systems with automated instrumentation, which allows for regular, remote observations to be gathered, have been of great value in the past in terms of understanding forthcoming landslide dynamics.

The monitoring setup at the Salcher landslide observatory covers current state-of-the-art methods in landslide investigation (such as inclinometers, piezometers, TDR probes, etc., see this paper for more information on monitoring landslides) combined with rather new and innovative techniques, such as permanent terrestrial laser scanning (pTLS – for an automated high resolution surface change detection on a daily basis) or permanent ERT (Electrical resistivity tomography) for spatially monitoring the propagation of rainwater in the subsurface every three hours. Additionally, percussion drillings and dynamic probing was performed on a longitudinal section of the landslide for a better structural interpretation of the landslide subsurface.

And on a more personal side note: everything looks so shiny and bright while presenting results on conferences…most of the time, however, you spend time on fixing (and cursing) things in the field that seem not to work for any particular reason. You are not alone out there!

By Ekrem Canli, PhD student, University of Vienna (ENGAGE working group on Geomorphological Systems and Risk Research).



Canli, E., Thiebes, B., Engels, A., Glade, T., Schweigl, J., and Bertagnoli, M.: Multi-parameter monitoring of a slow moving landslide in Gresten (Austria), Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 17, EGU2015-223-3, EGU General Assembly 2015

Canli, E., Höfle, B., Hämmerle, M., Thiebes, B., and Glade, T.: Permanent 3D laser scanning system for an active landslide in Gresten (Austria), Geophysical Research Abstracts, Vol. 17, EGU2015-2885-2, EGU General Assembly 2015

Crozier,M.J.: Deciphering the effect of climate change on landslide activity: A review, Geomorphology, Volume 124, Issues 3–4, doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2010.04.009, 2010

Petschko, H., Brenning, A., Bell, R., Goetz, J., and Glade, T.: Assessing the quality of landslide susceptibility maps – case study Lower Austria, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 95-118, doi:10.5194/nhess-14-95-2014, 2014.

Supper, R., Ottowitz, D., Jochum, B., Kim, J.-H., Römer, I., Pfeiler, S., Lovisolo, M., Gruber, S., and Vecchiotti, F.: Geoelectrical monitoring: an innovative method to supplement landslide surveillance and early warning, Near Surface Geophysics, Volume 12, Issue 1, doi:10.3997/1873-0604.2013060, 2014

Wieczorek, G.F., and Snyder, J.B.: Monitoring slope movements, in Young, R., and Norby, L., Geological Monitoring: Boulder, Colorado, Geological Society of America, p. 245–271, doi: 10.1130/2009.monitoring, 2009,

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


EGU Awards and Medals 2016

EGU Awards and Medals 2016

Yesterday, the EGU announced the 49 recipients of next year’s Union Medals and Awards, Division Medals, and Division Outstanding Young Scientists Awards. The aim of the awards is to recognise the efforts of the awardees in furthering our understanding of the Earth, planetary and space sciences. The prizes will be handed out during the EGU 2016 General Assembly in Vienna on 17-22 April. Head over to the EGU website for the full list of awardees.

Nineteen out of the total 49 awards went to early career scientists who are recognised for the excellence of their work at the beginning of their academic career. Fifteen of the awards were given at Division level but four early career scientists were recognised at Union level, highlighting the quality of the research being carried out by the early stage researcher community within the EGU.

Eight out of the 49 awards conferred this year recognised the work of female scientists. Of those, three were given to researchers in the early stages of their academic career (at the Division level).

As a student (be it at undergraduate, masters, or PhD level), at the EGU 2015 General Assembly, you might have entered the Outstanding Student Poster (OSP). A total of 47 poster contributions by early career researchers were bestowed with a OSP award this year recognising the valuable and important work carried out by budding geoscientists. Judges took into account not only the quality of the research presented in the posters, but also how the findings were communicated both on paper and by the presenters. Follow this link for a full list of awardees.

Further information regarding how to nominate a candidate for a medal and details on the selection of candidates can be found on the EGU webpages. For details of how to enter the OSP Award see the procedure for application, all of which takes place during the General Assembly, so it really couldn’t be easier to put yourself forward!