GeoLog

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Imaggeo on Mondays: Science above the Amazon rainforest

Imaggeo on Mondays: Science above the Amazon rainforest

The color and symmetry of the Amazon Tall Tower Observatory (ATTO) sticks out against the endless green of the rainforest. Built in a remote and pristine location, the ATTO tower is the tallest construction in South America. In a joint Brazilian-German project, atmospheric scientists aim to unravel the interaction of pristine rainforest with the atmosphere. With its height of 325 meters, the ATTO tower allows for studying atmospheric processes at different spatial scales.

Description by Achim Edtbauer, as it first appeared on imaggeo.egu.eu.

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/.

Imaggeo on Mondays: Double strombolian explosions at Mt. Yasur volcano

Imaggeo on Mondays: Double strombolian explosions at Mt. Yasur volcano

The Yasur volcano located in Vanuatu archipelago is permanently active since its discovery in 1774 by Cpt. James Cook. Its activity consists mainly in moderate regular strombolian explosions within the crater. But sometimes, more powerful explosions throw ash and bombs beyond the crater rim and may represent a hazard for tourists and people living next to the volcano. Otherwise, the Mt Yasur displays regular fireworks, witness from the living Earth.

Description by Jean-Guillaume Feignon, as it first appeared on imaggeo.egu.eu.

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/.

GeoPolicy: Science for Policy at the 2019 General Assembly!

GeoPolicy: Science for Policy at the 2019 General Assembly!

The EGU General Assembly is the largest geoscience meeting in Europe. Not only does it have a diverse array of sessions that you can attend within your own area of expertise but there are also thousands of sessions that will be outside of your research field, as well as sessions on topics that can be applied to a wide range of scientific divisions, jobs and industries – such as science for policy

The line-up for the 2019 EGU General Assembly includes Short Courses, Disciplinary Sessions, Townhall Meetings, Interdisciplinary Sessions and Union-wide Sessions that focus on various aspects of science-policy. Even if you’re just a bit curious about science for policy, it’s definitely worth adding a couple of the policy related sessions outlined below into your #EGU19 schedule!

Science and Society (SCS)

Science and Society is the new union-wide session format that provides a space to host scientific forums dedicated to connecting with high-level institutions and engaging the public and policymakers.

  • Plan-S: Should scientific publishers be forced to go Open Access: With support from the European Commission and European Research Council, plan S demands that research supported by participating funders must be published in Open Access journals by January 1, 2020. This session will debate the questions surrounding the implementation of the plan and its consequences.
  • Past and future tipping points and large climate transitions in Earth history: This session will discuss the advances in modeling forces triggering and amplifying Earth’s climate and carbon cycle. Given that Earth’s climate is currently experiencing an unprecedented transition under anthropogenic pressure, understanding the mechanisms behind the scene is vital and can help steer policy.

Short Courses (SC)

Disciplinary Sessions

Please keep in mind, that this isn’t an exhaustive list! There are a lot of other sessions at the EGU that can either be directly linked with science for policy or that include research relevant for policymakers. You can find more policy-related sessions on the EGU General Assembly Programme (which you can access online and via the EGU2019 mobile app) and through the General Assembly special sessions page. This page tags sessions under the categories of policy, diversity, media, early career scientists and public engagement so that GA participants with an interest in these topics can find relevant sessions quickly. If you think a session or event within one of these categories is missing, please email the EGU Media and Communications Manager at media@egu.eu with a link to the session, and the category where it should be listed and why.

If you have any further questions or comments regarding the EGU General Assembly’s policy activities, feel free to get in touch via email or come and meet me and the rest of the EGU office in person at the EGU Booth on Friday April 12, 10:15–10:45.

 

Geosciences Column: Flooded by jargon

Geosciences Column: Flooded by jargon

When hydrologists and people of the general public use simple water-related words, are they actually saying the same thing? While many don’t consider words like flood, river and groundwater to be very technical terms, also known as jargon, water scientists and the general public can actually have pretty different definitions. This is what a team of researchers have discovered in recent study, and their results were published in EGU’s open access journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. In this post, Rolf Hut, an assistant professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and co-author of the study, blogs about his team’s findings.

On the television a scientist is interviewed, in a room with a massive collection of books:

“Due to climate change, the once in two years flood now reaches up to…”

“Flood?” interrupts my dad “We haven’t had a flood in fifteen years; how can they talk about a once in two years flood?”

The return period of floods is an often used example to illustrate how statistically illiterate ‘the general public’ is supposed to be. But maybe we shouldn’t focus on the phrase ‘once in two years’, but rather on the term ‘flood’. Because: does my dad know what that scientist, a colleague of mine, means when she says “flood”?

In water-science the words that experts use are the same words that people use in daily life. Words like ‘flood’, ‘dam’ or ‘river’. Because we have been using these words for our entire lives, we may not stop and think that, because of our training as water scientists, we may have a different definition than what people outside our field may have. When together with experts on science communication, I was writing a review paper about geoscience on television[1] when we got into the discussion “what is jargon?”. We quickly found out that within geoscience this is an open question.

Together with a team of Netherlands-based scientists, including part-time journalist and scientist Gemma Venhuizen and professor of science communication Ionica Smeets and assistant professor on soils Cathelijne Stoof and professor of statistics Casper Albers we decided to look for an answer to this question. We conducted a survey where we asked people what they thought words like ‘flood’ meant. People could pick from different definitions. Those definitions were not wrong per se, just different. One might be from Wikipedia and another from a policy document from EU officials. We did not want to test if people were correct, but rather if there was a difference in meaning attached to words between water scientists and lay people. For completeness, we also added picture questions where people had to pick the picture that best matched a certain word.

The results are in. We recently published our findings in the EGU journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences[2] and will present them at the EGU General Assembly in April 2019 in Vienna. As it turns out: words like ‘groundwater’, ‘discharge’ and even ‘river’ have a large difference between the meaning lay-people have compared to water scientists. For the pictures however, people tend to agree more. The figure below shows the misfit distribution between lay people and water scientists: the bigger the misfit, the more people have different definitions. The numbers on the right are the Bayes factor: bigger than 10 indicates strong evidence that differences between lay people and water scientists are more likely than similarities. The words with an asterisk are the picture questions, showing that when communicating using pictures people are more likely to share the same definition.

Graph showing the posterior distribution of the misfit between laypeople and experts by using a Bayes factor (BF) for every term used in the survey. Pictorial questions are marked with an asterisk. A value of the BF <1∕10 is strong evidence towards H0: it is more likely that laypeople answer questions the same as experts than differently. A value of the BF >10 is strong evidence towards H1: differences are more likely than similarities. In addition to a Bayes factor for the significance of the difference, we also calculated the misfit: the strength of the difference. The misfit was calculated by a DIF score (differential item functioning), in which DIF =0 means perfect match, and DIF =1 means maximum difference. (Figure from https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-23-393-2019)

Maybe that scientist talking about floods on the television should have been filmed at a flood site, not in front of a pile of books.

Finally, the term ‘flood’ proved to be one of the words that we do tend to agree on, so maybe dad should take that class in basic statistics afterall…

By dr. ir. Rolf Hut, researcher at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

[This article is cross-posted on Rolf Hut’s personal site]

References

[1] Hut, R., Land-Zandstra, A. M., Smeets, I., and Stoof, C. R.: Geoscience on television: a review of science communication literature in the context of geosciences, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 2507-2518, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-20-2507-2016, 2016.

[2] Venhuizen, G. J., Hut, R., Albers, C., Stoof, C. R., and Smeets, I.: Flooded by jargon: how the interpretation of water-related terms differs between hydrology experts and the general audience, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 23, 393-403, https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-23-393-2019, 2019.