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General Assembly

General Assembly 2018 – Highlights

General Assembly 2018 – Highlights

It’s been about two weeks since the EGU General Assembly 2018 in Vienna. The conference this year was a great success with 4,776 oral, 11,128 poster, and 1,419 PICO presentations. There were 666 unique scientific sessions, complimented by 68 short courses and 294 side events, making for an interesting and diverse programme.

The conference brought together 15,075 scientists from 106 countries, 53% of which were under the age of 35 years. Keeping abreast of everything that was going on throughout the week was made easier due to the distribution of 15,000 copies of EGU Today, and a keen media presence reporting on scientific sessions. Thousands of visits to the webstreams, as well as GeoLog, meant those at the conference and those who couldn’t make it could stayed tuned to the best of the conference! We thank all of you very much for your attendance and active contribution to the conference.

Help us make the General Assembly next year (7–12 April 2019, Vienna, Austria) even better by filling out the feedback questionnaire. It only takes a few minutes, but hurry, it closes on Sunday June 3rd!

To reminisce about a productive week, why not watch this video of the best bits of the conference?

This year, the General Assembly was for the first time documented by EGU’s very own artists in residence. Sam Illingworth, Science Communication Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University (UK), and Matthew Partridge, Senior Research Fellow at Southampton University (UK), produced engaging poems and cartoons to share their conference experiences and communicate science. Why not reflect on the General Assembly through a more artistic lens? You can find all their work on EGU’s GeoLog.

Coffee Haiku by Matthew Partridge and Sam Illingworth

Underwater robot shares ocean secrets

Underwater robot shares ocean secrets

Buoyancy-driven drones are helping scientists paint a picture of the ocean with sound.

Around the world, silent marine robots are eavesdropping on the ocean and its inhabitants. The robots can travel 1000 metres beneath the surface and cover thousands of kilometres in a single trip, listening in on the ocean as they go.

These bright yellow bots, known as Seagliders, are about the size of a diver, but can explore the ocean for months on end, periodically relaying results to satellites.

Researchers have been utilising gliders for about 20 years, first using them to measure temperature and salinity. But over time, scientists have expanded their capabilities and now they can record ocean sounds.

You can learn a lot from the recordings if you know how to read them. The background noise is produced by high winds, the low frequency rumble comes from moving ships, and the punctuating whistles and clicks are produced by different marine species.

Sperm whale and dolphin echolocation clicks. Every two seconds you hear a loud click, the sound of a sperm whale. The more rapid clicks correspond to dolphins. Credit: University of East Anglia

Pierre Cauchy, a PhD researcher from the University of East Anglia, UK, has been using seagliders to create an underwater soundscape across the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Southern Oceans. He presented his latest findings at the EGU General Assembly in Vienna last week.

Here in the ocean, the nights can be noisier than the days. When the sun goes down, fish sing out in chorus, a sound that rings out at 700 Hz. “I wasn’t expecting that, it was serendipitous,” says Cauchy. It’s not only fish that can be picked up by the gliders; dolphins and whales make characteristic whistles and clicks, meaning species can be identified from their vocal patterns alone.

The next step is to cross check the recordings with others made in the area, and confirm which species he’s been listening to. In the future, Cauchy hopes the technology will be used to monitor changes in ecosystem health over time.

While it’s hard to know what a healthy ecosystem sounds like, you can monitor the same spot from year to year and work out whether it is healthier, or less healthy than it was previously. A more healthy ecosystem may be filled with the sounds of different fish, and other species, representing a diverse, species-rich habitat.. A less healthy one would be quiet, or more monotonous.

Pod of long-finned pilot whales in the North Atlantic. Credit: University of East Anglia

The sound of a pod of pilot whales – bright areas indicate bursts of sound at a particular frequency. The patterns and frequencies differ for each species. Credit: Cauchy et al. (2008).

Scientists could also use gliders to fill gaps in our understanding of extreme weather around the world, especially in places where collecting data is a challenge, like the high seas. “That’s the good thing with gliders, you can send them where data is needed,” emphasises Cauchy.

Researchers have been using satellite data to validate wind speed models and map weather events like hurricanes, but even satellites need to be calibrated against measurements made on the Earth’s surface. The seagliders can do just that; hydrophones pick up wind at two to 10 kilohertz and the faster the wind, the louder the sound. “The more in-situ data you have, the better your satellite data is, and that’s better for the models,” Cauchy explains.

Future work could see scientists sending gliders into hurricanes to measure wind speeds reached during extreme weather events.

By Sara Mynott

References

Cauchy, P. Passive Acoustic Monitoring from ocean gliders. EGU General Assembly. 2018. 

EGU General Assembly press conference recording available here.

What’s on in Vienna this weekend

What’s on in Vienna this weekend

The General Assembly has come to an end, with only a few hours left to go. Many of the participants will make their way home over the weekend, but if you’ve chosen to stay on for a little longer, then this list of cultural activities and things to do in Vienna might just be the ticket!

Relax with Vienna’s best coffee

You can’t visit Vienna without going for a coffee and a slice of Sacher torte in one of the city’s fine coffee establishments. Try Cafe Hawelka, once a hub of Viennese artists, or Cafe Central, the legendary literati cafe.

Explore architectural wonders

Immerse yourself in Vienna’s architectural heritage with a visit to Wien Museum Karlzplatz, where you will find an exhibition of Otto Wagner’s architectural works. Follow the exhibition with a walking tour of the city to see these wonders for yourself.

Wien Museum Karlsplatz (Credit: Kbsen, Wikimedia Commons)

Get into the jungle

Step outside of the city and explore the Lobau, a national park fondly known as ‘Vienna’s jungle’. Catch a boat straight from the old city and travel in style.

Gardens, palaces and plants fairs

Enjoy the Viennese spring sunshine in the botanical gardens this weekend and while you’re there drop in on Raritätenbörse, Vienna’s exotic plant fair in the Botanical Garden of the University of Vienna. For anyone looking for a botanical souvenir of EGU, there promises to be a big range of exotic plants on sale.  For the less green-fingered, why not head to the Belvedere Palace next door and explore some of the spectacular art on display.

Design markets in the Museum Quartier

For anyone interested in design, there is an international design market (WAMP) outside the Museum Quartier on Saturday. It promises to showcase the best of local and eastern European design, accompanied by tasty street food and a lively atmosphere.

Superfly birthday night

For anyone wanting to party, Superfly radio (a Viennese radio station) is holding a 8-floor extravaganza at the Ottakringer Brauerei to celebrate its 10 year birthday, boasting international acts and all-night music. Hip Hop, Disco, Soul, Electronic beats and breaks, House and Latin music are just some of the genres on offer for those who fancy letting their hair down on Friday evening.

Strauss and Mozart Concert at the Kursalon

In the home country of Strauss and Mozart, any fans of classical music should head to the Kursalon concert hall for the traditional Viennese experience. There are concerts every evening this weekend. For those who want to treat themselves, why not book a ‘Concert and Dinner ticket’ and enjoy a gala dinner before the show in the Kursalon’s Restaurant Johann.

Schönbrunn Palace

If rooms of Baroque glory are your thing, then Schönbrunn Palace is the place to go. At the end of the seventeenth century Emperor Leopold I commissioned the architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, who had received his training in Rome, to design an imperial hunting lodge for his son, Crown Prince Joseph, later to become Emperor Joseph I. The park at Schönbrunn Palace, complete with maze, vineyard and orangery, extends for 1.2 km from east to west and approximately one kilometre from north to south. Together with the palace, it was placed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1996.