Planning your first trip to the General Assembly can be overwhelming - let us help! Credit: Credit: EGU/Pfluegl
Will this be your first time at an EGU General Assembly? With more than 15,000 participants in a massive venue, the conference can be a confusing and, at times, overwhelming place.
To help you find your way, we have compiled an introductory handbook filled with history, presentation pointers, travel tips and a few facts about Vienna and its surroundings. Download your copy of the EGU General Assembly guide here!
And if you plan to apply for funding support to attend the General Assembly, don’t forget the deadline is just around the corner: the call closes on Saturday, 1 December. For details on how to submit your abstract and apply to the Roland Schlich travel support scheme at the same time, check out this blog post from a few weeks ago.
EGU 2019 will take place from 7 to 12 April 2017 in Vienna, Austria. For more information on the General Assembly, see the EGU 2019 website and follow us on Twitter (#EGU19 is the official conference hashtag) and Facebook.
Shutters of the Cheruthoni dam open in response to heavy rainfall in Kerala, India. (Credit: Kiranroice, via Wikimedia Commons)
Drawing inspiration from popular stories on our social media channels, major geoscience headlines, as well as unique and quirky research, this monthly column aims to bring you the latest Earth and planetary science news from around the web.
The south Indian state of Kerala has suffered unusually heavy monsoon rainfall this month, triggering the worst flooding the state has seen in more than a century.
Officials have reported nearly 500 deaths, while more than one million people have been evacuated to over 4,000 relief camps.
Between 1 and 19 August, the region received 758.6 milimetres of rain, 2.6 times the average for that season. In just two days (15-16 August), Kerala sustained around 270 milimetres of rainfall, the same amount of rainfall that the entire state receives in one month typically, said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to BBC News.
Due to the heavy downpours, rivers have overflowed, water from several dams has been released, and lethal landslides have swept away rural villages.
“Officials estimated about 6,000 miles (10,000km) of roads had been submerged or buried by landslides,” reported the Guardian. “Communications networks were also faltering, officials said, making rescue efforts harder to coordinate.”
Experts report that the event’s severity stems from many factors coming together.
For instance, a recent study led by Koll has shown that in the past 50-60 years, monsoon winds have weakened, delivering less rain on average in India. However, the distribution of rainfall is uneven, with long dry spells punctuated by heavy rainfall events. Koll’s research suggests that central India has experienced a threefold rise in the number of widespread extreme rain events during 1950-2012. In short, it doesn’t rain as often; but when it rains, it pours.
Scientists also say that increased development in the region had exacerbated the monsoon’s impact.
For example, usually when storms release heavy rainfall, much of that water is absorbed or slowed down by vegetation, soil, and other natural obstacles. However, scientists point out that “over the past 40 years Kerala has lost nearly half its forest cover, an area of 9,000 km², just under the size of Greater London, while the state’s urban areas keep growing. This means that less rainfall is being intercepted, and more water is rapidly running into overflowing streams and rivers.”
To make matters worse, increased development can also change how effectively rivers handle heavy downpours. For instance, canals and bridges can make rivers more narrow and can create sediment build-up, which slows water flow. “When there is a sudden downpour, there is not enough space for the water so it floods the surrounding area,” explains Nature.
Some experts have added that badly-timed water management practices are also partly to blame for the flood’s devastation on local communities.
“A contributing factor is that after the heavy rain, authorities began to release water from several of the state’s 44 dams, where reservoirs were close to overflowing. The neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu also purged water from its over-filled Mullaperiyar dam, which wreaked yet more havoc downstream in Kerala,” Nature adds.
While floodwaters began to recede in late August, rescue teams are still searching submerged neighborhoods to deliver aid and evacuate survivors.
What you might have missed
Water on moon confirmed
Recent research published this month suggest that there is almost certainly frozen water on the moon’s surface.
The image shows the distribution of surface ice at the Moon’s south pole (left) and north pole (right). Blue represents the ice locations, plotted over an image of the lunar surface, where the gray scale corresponds to surface temperature (darker representing colder areas and lighter shades indicating warmer zones). (Credit: NASA)
“Previous observations indirectly found possible signs of surface ice at the lunar south pole, but these could have been explained by other phenomena, such as unusually reflective lunar soil,” NASA officials said in a published statement.
Now, scientists involved with the new study claim that they’ve found definitive evidence that ice is located within craters on the moon’s north and south poles.
During daylight hours, the moon’s surface can be brutally hot, often reaching temperatures as high as 100 degrees Celsius. However, due to the moon’s axial tilt, some parts of the lunar poles don’t receive sunlight. Scientists estimate that some craters situated within these permanently dark polar regions are cold enough to sustain pockets of water-ice.
Because the moon’s poles are so dark, scientists have had a hard time studying the lunar craters. But Shuai Li, a planetary researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and lead author of the study, and his colleagues tried a creative way to shed some light on shadowed craters, using data collected from India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe ten years ago.
“They peered into dark craters using traces of sunlight that had bounced off crater walls,” reports the New York Times. “They analyzed the spectral data to find places where three specific wavelengths of near-infrared light were absorbed, indicating ice water.”
As of now, the researchers still aren’t sure how much ice there is, or how it found its way to the moon’s poles. But if enough accessible ice exists close to the lunar surface, the water could be used as a resource for future missions to the moon, from a source of drinking water to rocket fuel.
Mapping Earth’s winds from above
Also this month, scientists from the European Space Agency launched a satellite that will profile the world’s winds, in hopes that the data will greatly improve weather forecasts and provide insight for long-term climate research. The satellite, named Aeolus after the celestial keeper of the winds in Greek mythology, was sent to orbit from French Guiana on Wednesday 22 August.
“The rocket was due to lift off on Tuesday, but the launch was postponed – ironically – due to high altitude winds,” reports BBC News.
Equipped with a Doppler wind lidar, Aeolus will send powerful laser pulses down to Earth’s atmosphere and measure how air molecules and other particles in the wind scatter the light beam.
Researchers expect that wind data from Aeolus will greatly improve current efforts to forecast storms, especially their severity over time. While scientists have many ways to measure wind behavior, current methods are unable to capture wind movement from all corners of the Earth. Aeolus will be the first mission to monitor winds across the entire globe.
Using data collected by Aeolus, experts estimate that the quality of forecasts will increase by up to 15% within the tropics, and 2-4% outside of the tropics.
“If we improve forecasts by 2%, the value for society is many billions of dollars,” said Lars Isaksen, a meteorologist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), to Nature.
Learn how Earth’s wind is generated and why we need to measure it. (Credit: ESA)
Do you enjoy the EGU’s annual General Assembly but wish you could play a more active role in shaping the scientific programme? Now is your chance! Help shape the scientific programme of the 2019 General Assembly.
Before the end of today (6 September), you can suggest:
More than 50,000 people were killed by landslides around the world between 2004 and 2016, according to a new study by researchers at UK’s Sheffield University. The team, who compiled data on over 4800 fatal landslides during the 13-year period, also revealed for the first time that landslides resulting from human activity have increased over time. The research is published today in the European Geosciences Union journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.
If governments don’t act decisively by 2035 to fight climate change, humanity could cross a point of no return after which limiting global warming below 2°C in 2100 will be unlikely, according to a new study by scientists in the UK and the Netherlands. The research also shows the deadline to limit warming to 1.5°C has already passed, unless radical climate action is taken. The study is published today in the European Geosciences Union journal Earth System Dynamics.
And don’t forget! To stay abreast of all the EGU’s events and activities, from highlighting papers published in our open access journals to providing news relating to EGU’s scientific divisions and meetings, including the General Assembly, subscribe to receive our monthly newsletter.
Today’s featured photo comes from the 2017 General Assembly. Did you enjoy this year’s 666 unique scientific sessions, 68 short courses and 294 side events? Did you know that EGU members and conference attendees can play an active role in shaping the scientific programme of the conference? It’s super easy!
You can suggest a session (with conveners and description), and/or modifications to the existing skeleton programme sessions. So, if you’ve got a session in mind for the 2019 conference, be it oral, poster or PICO, be sure to submit it before 6 September. Have a great idea for a Union Symposium or Great Debate? Make sure to submit your proposal by this Wednesday, 15 August!
But helping us prepare the next General Assembly is not the only way you can have a say in EGU activities over the coming weeks. The EGU’s Autumn Elections are coming up too and we need your help to identify suitable candidates for EGU’s next Treasurer. Until 15 September you can nominate candidates for the position. Think you’ve got it takes to have a go at the role? Then you are also welcome to nominate yourself!
Do you need funding to organise a training school in the Earth, planetary or space sciences? EGU training schools offer early career scientists specialist training opportunities they do not normally have access to in their home institutions. But hurry and submit your application before the deadline this week, 15 August.
In addition, we welcome proposals for conferences on solar system and planetary processes, as well as on biochemical processes in the Earth system, in line with two new EGU conference series we are launching that are named in honour of two female scientists. The Angioletta Corradini and Mary Anning conferences are to be held every two years with their first editions in 2019 or 2020. The deadline to submit proposals is also 15 August.
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/.
When it comes to supercharging your scientific skills, broadening your base science communication, or picking up tips on how to boost your career, short courses can be one of the highlights of the General Assembly programme.
But, did you know that any EGU member (you!) can propose a short course? You’ve got until 6 September 2018 to complete the application. This quick guide, will give you some pointers for submitting and organising your own short course at the EGU 2019 General Assembly!
Before you even put pen to paper and plan your workshop, remember that the courses should provide a forum to teach your General Assembly peers something of interest. Ideally, short courses should be designed to be open to all conference participants, though they can also be affiliated with one or more of the meeting’s programme groups.
Planning your short course
As the organiser, you are free to choose the content and set-up of the course. But the content should be of interest to (a subset of) the community that the EGU represents! The decision as to whether your course will be included in the final conference programme is made by the programme committee chair, Susanne Buiter, and the short course programme group chairs: the ECS Union representative Stephanie Zihms and Sam Illingworth.
To submit your course, you’ll need:
a title and a short description
the details of the course organiser
You also have the option to co-organise your course with a scientific division(s) (meaning it’ll appear in the both the Short Course Programme Group and that of your favored division(s)). You might consider doing this if your workshop is aimed at a specific community, as well as being of broad appeal.
Choosing a time-slot
If your short course submission is approved, you can specify preferences for certain time blocks, days or back-to-back scheduling online in the session tagging tool between 12-20 January 2019. Note that assignments depend on availability. No short courses will be scheduled during the poster sessions from 17:30 to 19:00 each day or on the Sunday before the conference officially opens.
All short course rooms come complete with a microphone, a data projector, a notebook, wired internet connection, and a VGA switch to use up to three individual notebooks in addition to the permanently installed one of that room. Technical assistance will also be provided in each short course room.
If you require participants to register in advance of the course, it is your responsibility as the organiser to coordinate this. Be sure to include a registration email address or a Doodle link in the description of the short course, so potential participants know how to sign-up.
Food and drink can liven up any meeting! Should you wish to provide catering throughout your workshop (at your own expense), please get in touch with the General Assembly caterer (Motto Catering) by completing their online order form before 31 March 2019. This online form will be made available by the end of the year.
Dos & Don’ts
Do make skills/abilities related to science and research the focus of your workshop
Do aim to provide training in skills needed by people working in science
Do promote your short course
Do make your course interactive or include hands-on activities (if possible)
Do let participants know (via the description) if they’ll need to bring along materials (e.g. laptop, tablet, specific software) to participate in the course
Do allow time for questions
Don’t invite too many speakers
Don’t engage in commercial activities during the course (e.g. sales)
Don’t charge admission fees or course fees – these are strictly prohibited