Imaggeo on Mondays: Geysir

Geysir (from which the English word, geyser, is derived) in the Haukadalur valley, Iceland. The photograph was taken just before the geyser you can see the air bubbles rushing towards the surface within the mounting dome of water. This image was voted the winner of the EGU GA 2011 Photo Competition.

Image by James Levine, distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

Imaggeo is the online open access geosciences image repository of the European Geosciences Union. Every geoscientist who is an amateur photographer (but also other people) can submit their images to this repository. Being open access, it can be used by scientists for their presentations or publications as well as by the press. If you submit your images to imaggeo, you retain full rights of use, since they are licenced and distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

EGU GA 2011 Perspectives (7)

This year on the EGU General Assembly blog there will be guest posts from participants about their research and their impressions of sessions. These are personal points of view not EGU corporate views. If you would like to contribute a research or session viewpoint, please email us.

This perspective from the European Geosciences Union General Asembly 2011 is from Joe Kasprzyk, who is a a PhD candidate at Penn State University, USA. His research was presented in a talk in HS5.4 Advances in Modeling of Coupled Hydrologic-Socioeconomic Systems .

I am very happy I was able to attend EGU 2011 and am honoured to contribute this blog post. In this post, I’d like to briefly introduce my research and some emerging areas of focus for hydrological sciences and water management and then discuss the importance of researchers in my field attending the EGU meeting.

The goal of my research is to aid sustainable decision making within environmental systems using risk-based water management, which includes feedbacks between social, natural, and built systems. Currently this involves studies that use many-objective solution techniques to quantify the tradeoffs between conflicting objectives. An example of these conflicting objectives is in minimizing the cost of a water supply system while maximizing its reliability. The situation is more complicated when other objectives are considered, however, including minimizing surplus water for municipal use that can be considered a proxy for other regional uses. To aid in solving this problem, our research combines the solution tools with interactive visual analytics that can involve stakeholders in showing them the consequences of different policy and engineering decisions.

Using a case study of a water market in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, USA, we started by exploring the effects of adding market instruments on the city’s many objective tradeoffs [1], and then proposed a de Novo planning framework that adaptively introduces new problem learning in an iterative process [2]. My future research will address the Susquehanna River Basin to aid the sustainability of water for competing water uses of municipal supply, electricity generation, and environmental flows.

There is increasing concern over the impact of increasing populations, amplified hydrologic variability, and climate change on water management. Future research should continue to provide tools for addressing these challenges, and this will necessarily involve interactions with scientists in different fields and from varied regions. One relevant research question, for example, is how does the time scale of observing environmental changes affect the time scale of decision making processes? The set of preferences for decision makers now may not be the same as in the next generation, especially given the availability of new information within subsequent planning horizons. Another concern is incorporating diverse uses into economic frameworks, especially those for which it is difficult to provide a monetized value of utility. Modeling of ecosystem processes will help inform this decision-making process, but the large amount of uncertainty present may not be able to be fully reduced.

These challenges have a direct connection to the value of international meetings such as the EGU General Assembly, because scientists from across many disciplines can discuss research and ideas throughout the whole conference program. Beyond just interdisciplinary work, though, I find it enlightening that we can interact across national boundaries as well. The concept of governance is a central one to water management since this directly constrains the breadth of actions that can be taken to react to change. Data availability, stakeholder preferences, and regulatory environment can all vary from country to country and I have learned much about this here at the conference.

I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this blog, and I would be glad to interact with you if you have any questions through e-mail.

[1] Kasprzyk, J., Reed, P., Kirsch, B., Characklis, G. (2009) “Managing Population and Drought Risks Using Many-Objective Water Portfolio Planning Under Uncertainty” Water Resour. Res., 45, W12401, doi:10.1029/2009WR008121
[2] Kasprzyk, J., Reed, P., Characklis, G., Kirsch, B. (In Review) “Many Objective de Novo Water Supply Portfolio Planning Under Deep Uncertainty” Env. Mod. Soft.

Perspectives from EGU GA 2011 (6)

This year on the EGU General Assembly blog there will be guest posts from participants about their research and their impressions of sessions. These are personal points of view not EGU corporate views. If you would like to contribute a research or session viewpoint, please email us.

This perspective from the European Geosciences Union General Asembly 2011 is from Thomas Smith about how to maximise your poster presentation. Thomas’ research was presented in NH7.2/AS4.14/BG2.17 Fire in the Earth System: Impacts and Feedbacks.


In a world of multi-touch interfaces, e-readers, and televisions the size of cinema screens, it is not hard to imagine the day when the poster boards at the EGU general assembly are replaced by large, interactive devices, automatically downloading their designated poster for each day from “the cloud”. In the mean time, I decided that I would compliment my paper poster with an online interactive poster (iPoster!).

With three days until my poster presentation in the session on ‘Fire in the Earth System: Impacts and Feedbacks’, I was offered the opportunity to present my poster as a summary in the oral programme of the session. Whilst struggling to summarise my poster in four Powerpoint slides, it occurred to me that it would be much better to simply exhibit the poster as a Prezi, a navigable, zoomable, interactive poster, complete with photo and video galleries. Not only did this go down well in the poster summary, but it also proved useful when describing my research in the poster session itself. If you have a poster presentation, but feel that animations or videos are important to communicate your research, this is a very good way of integrating the audiovisuals with your poster.

No doubt, many of you savvy EGU blog readers are familiar with ‘Prezi’, one of the rising stars in alternatives to the linear presentation style prescribed by the likes of Powerpoint. If not, then you should at least take a look (Prezi Homepage). Prezi is difficult to describe without demonstration, although I shall try. Imagine a Google Earth for your presentation slides; you can begin with an overview contained in the field of view of your audience, before moving into sections, but always within the context of the initial overview; Prezi allows you to customise a route through your text, images and videos, using flashy animation (like moving from location to location in Google Earth) to navigate and zoom around the information you wish to disseminate. As with all developing web-based tools, there are a few issues, particularly with the narrow range of supported video formats, limited text formatting tools and some issues with image scaling (it’s best to convert your images to pdfs). Prezi is free for educational use, however, and the reaction from your audience will be worth that exploratory effort.

So whilst we are stuck with our temperamental printers, unruly paper, and comical dancing acts in front of our poster boards for now, at least it is possible to point to an animated version of the poster on a laptop or tablet screen. How long will it be before iPosters take that step from sidekick on the pedestal to the main board?

My interactive poster can be viewed online.

Perspectives from the EGU GA 2011 (5)

This year on the EGU General Assembly blog there will be guest posts from participants about their research and their impressions of sessions. These are personal points of view not EGU corporate views. If you would like to contribute a research or session viewpoint, please email us.

This perspective from the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2011 is from Marianne Corvellec a PhD student at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon. She presented her research in NP8.1 Stochastic Approaches for Multiscale Modelling in Geosciences

First time experiences at EGU GA 2011

I am taking this opportunity to share my experience at EGU 2011. I am a PhD student in Physics, and this is my first time at EGU. I am thankful for my advisor who suggested right on time that I submit an abstract for EGU 2011 –which I did on the very deadline day. I was not used to having an impressive audience –with many big names and many unknown faces, I mean. I was not used to very strict timing instructions either, but it felt like it went well. I haven’t had the chance/time to catch up with everyone who asked me questions after the talk. The General Assembly is so huge and busy. I am not too frustrated about it, because I think that, once back home, I can recover who is who, who works on what, using the online programme. At the EGU General Assembly, anyway, you should never think in terms of what you are missing out on: the answer is inexorably TONS. I can tell just from browsing the EGUToday editions. So I decided to focus on my session; I appreciated very much the talks being short and self-contained. At the General Assembly, you get to meet people you know but don’t get to see very often, people you know by name, new people –sorry, they’re called Young Scientists. So I’m experiencing the usual adrenaline rush you get at conferences, as you (try and) tell about your (more or less solitary) work, as some elements start to make more sense because you’re giving them context and motivations, in your explanation effort. Well, at some point you just can’t wait to go back home, and try computing/writing what you’ve been brought to think about. In the mean time, I enjoy the socializing and networking; I haven’t done anything cultural/touristy in Vienna, really, but I think I very much like this city –let me mention that I find it incredibly affordable. Hopefully this statement will not cause the Vienna ‘stocks’ to go up. To be honest, I am not too fond of the venue; I think the poster area is too air-conditioned, and some rooms are too dark. But the conference assistants are doing a great job in their yellow T-shirts; you can always ask for some help in German or English. All in all, I am leaving EGU gA 2011 tired but energized. Don’t you know what I mean? Come over next year!