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April GeoRoundUp: the best of the Earth sciences from the 2019 General Assembly

April GeoRoundUp: the best of the Earth sciences from the 2019 General Assembly

The EGU General Assembly 2019 took place in Vienna last month, drawing more than 16,000 participants from 113 countries. This month’s GeoRoundUp will focus on some of the unique and interesting stories that came out of research presented at the Assembly!

Major Stories

Glacial disappearing act in the European Alps

New research from a team of scientists estimated the future of all glaciers within the European Alps, and the results aren’t that hopeful. After running new simulations and analysing observational data, the researchers predict that, if we limit global warming below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, by 2100 glacier volume in the Alps would be roughly two-thirds less than levels seen today.

Furthermore, according to the new research, if we fail to put global warming in check, more than 90 percent of Europe’s glacier volume in the Alps will disappear by the end of the century. “In this pessimistic case, the Alps will be mostly ice free by 2100, with only isolated ice patches remaining at high elevation, representing 5 percent or less of the present-day ice volume,” says Matthias Huss, a researcher at ETH Zurich and co-author of the study.

Evolution of total glacier volume in the European Alps between 2003 and 2100. Credit: Zekollari et al., 2019, The Cryosphere.

The data also suggests that from now until 2050, about 50 percent of the present glacier volume will melt, regardless of how much greenhouse gas emissions we produce in the coming years. This is because glaciers are slow to respond to changes in climate conditions, and still reflect colder climates from the past. In addition to presenting their research at the EGU General Assembly, the team also published the results in The Cryosphere.

The search for the oldest ice announces their drill site

Ice-core extraction near Concordia station (Credit: Thibaut Vergoz, French Polar Institute, CNRS)

After three years of careful consideration, a collection of European ice and climate researchers have pinpointed the spot where they would most likely uncover the oldest ice core possible, one that dates back to 1.5 million years from today.

The consortium of researchers, also known as the Beyond-EPICA project, hopes to pull out a sample of ice containing a seamless record of Earth’s climate history. Such ice samples contain trapped air bubbles, some sealed off thousands to millions of years ago, thus providing undisturbed snapshots into Earth’s ancient atmospheres. Using this climate data, researchers can make predictions on how Earth’s will warm in the future.

At the General Assembly, the scientists formally announced that the drilling operation will be conducted 40 kilometres southwest from the Dome Concordia Station, which is run jointly by France and Italy. The team plans to collect a three km-long ice core from the site, nicknamed ‘Little Dome C,’ over the course of five years, then will spend at least an additional year examining the ice.

Map of Antarctica showing the areas surveyed by BE-OI and the selected drill site (Credit: British Antarctic Survey (BAS))

 

What you might have missed

Predicting the largest quakes on Earth

Scientists have long discussed how intense quakes can be on Earth, with some studies suggesting that Earth’s tectonic features cannot generate earthquakes larger than magnitude 10. However, new research conducted by Álvaro González Center from Mathematical Research in Barcelona, Spain estimates that subduction zones, regions where one tectonic plate is pushed under another, subsequently sinking into the mantle, have the potential to release 10.4 magnitude earthquakes. González’ analysis suggests that such events happen on average every 2,000 years.

“Such events would produce especially large tsunamis and long lasting shaking which would effect distant locations,” Gonzalez said to the Agence France-Presse.

His findings also propose that large asteroid impacts, such as the dinosaur-killing Chicxulub event 66 million years ago, may trigger even larger magnitude shaking. According to data analysis, shaking events reaching magnitude 10.5 or more likely happen on average once every 10 million years.

Where deadly heat will hit the hardest

Heatwaves and heat-related hazards are expected to be more prevalent and more severe as the Earth warms, and a team of researchers looked into which regions of the world will be the most vulnerable.

The scientists specifically analysed human exposure to ‘deadly heat,’ where temperatures as so high that humans aren’t able to cool down anymore. By examining data projections for future population growth and annual days of deadly heat, the researchers assessed which areas will be hit the hardest. They found that, if global warming isn’t limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, there will be a few ‘hots spots,’ where large populations are predicted to experience frequent days of deadly heat annually.

Dhaka, Bangladesh, is expected to experience significant exposure to deadly heat in the future, according to research presented at the EGU 2019 meeting. Credit: mariusz kluzniak via Flickr

The research results suggest that future deadly heat will most significantly impact the entire South Asia and South-East Asia region, Western Africa and the Caribbean. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular will experience big increases in deadly heat exposure, due to climate change and population growth.

The researchers also found that a minority of large cities in very poor countries will be the most affected by future heat conditions. “There is a big inequality of who takes the toll of deadly heat,” said Steffen Lohrey, a PhD student at the Technical University Berlin who presented the findings at the EGU meeting.

Europe and the Mediterranean at risk of malaria due to climate change

While malaria was eradicated in Europe and the Mediterranean in the 20th century, there have been an increasing number of new cases in this region of the world, primarily due to international travel and immigration. New research presented at the General Assembly by Elke Hertig, a professor at the University of Augsburg, Germany, suggests that Europe’s future climate may further increase the risk of local malaria recurrence and expansion.

Malaria is transmitted to humans by Anopheles mosquitos and these disease-carrying insects are very sensitive to temperature and precipitation conditions. In particular, these mosquitos thrive in areas with warm spring temperatures and high precipitation in the summer and autumn.

Using climate models, Hertig found that the malaria-carrying mosquito population will likely spread northward as Europe’s climate changes, reaching much of northern Europe by the end of the century. Alternatively, her models suggest that mosquito populations will decline in the Mediterranean regions, mainly due to decreases in summer and autumn rainfall.

A statistical analysis also revealed that, by the end of the century, disease transmission from mosquitoes will be the most effective in southern and south-eastern European regions, including parts of Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, and the Balkan countries.

Other noteworthy stories

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.

At the Assembly 2019: Thursday Highlights

At the Assembly 2019: Thursday Highlights

Welcome to the fourth day of General Assembly excitement! Once again the day is packed with great events for you to attend and here are just some of the sessions on offer. You can find out more about what’s on in EGU Today, the daily newsletter of the General Assembly – download it here.

Union-wide sessions

The Union-wide session of the day focuses on Promoting and supporting equality of opportunities in geosciences (US4). Under-representation of different groups (cultural, national and gender) remains a reality across the world in the geosciences. This Union Symposium will touch on the remaining obstacles that contribute to these imbalances, with the goal of identifying best practices and innovative ideas to overcome obstacles. Join the discussion from 14:00–18:00 in Room E1 or follow online through webstreaming.

Thursday will feature two Great Debates, the first discussing climate thresholds and turning points for fossil fuel emissions: The safe operating space for the planet and how to ensure it is not passed (GDB1) at 10:45–12:30 in Room E1. The following great debate is particularly geared towards early career scientists (ECS). Head to Room E1 from 19:00 to 20:30 to discuss, in a series of small group debates, how early career scientists can prioritise their mental wellbeing. Seating is limited for both debates so make sure to arrive early to guarantee a spot!

You can tune into both sessions on Twitter using the #EGU19GDB hashtag and follow the first debate via webstreaming.

Scientific sessions

Some of today’s inter- and transdisciplinary highlights include sessions on…

There are several scientifically stimulating sessions planned throughout the day. Check the programme schedule to see all that’s on offer! (Credit: EGU/Keri McNamara)

Check the conference programme or EGU Today for details on the rest of Thursdays’s inter- and transdisciplinary sessions.

And be sure check out some of today’s stimulating scientific sessions:

Short courses

Take the opportunity to expand your skills in one of today’s short courses and splinter meetings. Be sure to share what you learn on social media using the hashtag #EGU19SC:

There are also many great pop-up events planned for today at the Networking and Early Career Scientist Zone (Red Level), here’s just a few planned for today:

  • Earth Science preprints: the What’s, the Why’s and the How’s: 13:00
  • Young Water Professionals Booth: 14:00
  • Academia is not the only route: exploring career options for Earth scientists Q&A: 15:00

Medal lectures

There’s also a number of Medal Lectures on throughout the day – here’s a sample of what’s on offer:

Science, art and society at EGU 2019

Tonight from 19:00 to 20:30 in Room L4/5 you can join an OpenStreetMap Mapathon to help put some of the world’s most vulnerable places on the map. A mapathon is a mapping marathon, where volunteers get together to contribute to OpenStreetMap – the world’s free map. No experience is necessary to take part in the event, just bring your laptop and the conveners will provide the training. In this session you will also learn more about crowdsourcing, open data and humanitarian response, as well as get tips for how to host a mapathon at your home institution.

EGU 2019 artists in residence and samples of their work (Credit: M Merlin/G Skretis/ G Anastasakis)

EGU’s illustrator (Morgane Merlin) and sculptor (Giorgo Skretis) in residence have been circulating the Assembly to share their conference experiences and communicate science. You can see their work posted daily on the EGU blog here or on social media through the hashtag #EGUart. Today Giorgo will also be hosting a short course on sculpting your research, (SC2.14) at 19:00-20:00 in Room -2.32.

EGU committees: public meetings

In addition to organising an annual General Assembly, the EGU publishes a number of open-access journals, organises topical meetings, honours scientists with awards and medals, and has a range of education and outreach activities. Want to find out more? Some of the EGU’s committees are having public meetings at this year’s General Assembly, to tell EGU members more about what we do and get feedback.

Additionally, the EGU President and Programme Committee Chair are convening a townhall on the carbon footprint of EGU’s General Assembly (TM4: 19:00–20:00 / Room -2.47). This townhall will provide information on measures taken so far by the EGU to reduce the environmental footprint of its General Assembly, as well as solicit suggestions for ways forward to further reduce the carbon footprint of the conference.

If you need a change of pace, stop by the Imaggeo Photo Exhibition beside the EGU Booth (Hall X2, basement, Brown Level). You can vote for your favourite finalists there, but be quick because the voting deadline is today at midnight! While you’re in the area, you can also take the opportunity to meet your division and Union-wide representatives in today’s Meet EGU appointments.

Have a lovely day!

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 7 to 12 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website and follow the Assembly’s online conversation on Twitter at #EGU19.

At the Assembly 2019: Wednesday Highlights

At the Assembly 2019: Wednesday Highlights

We’re halfway through the General Assembly already! Once again there is lots on offer at EGU 2019 and this is just a taster – be sure to complement this information with EGU Today, the daily newsletter of the General Assembly, available for download here.

Union-wide sessions

Communication between scientists, institutions, policymakers and the general public is widely recognised as an essential step towards a fair and sustainable society. Today’s Science and Society session Science, Politics and European (dis)integration: A conversation of Geoscientists with Ilaria Capua and Mario Monti will focus on science and politics with a global perspective, and the impact of populism on European integrity and therefore scientific research. In this session, Former Italian Prime Minister and European Commissioner Mario Monti and Former Italian Parliamentarian Ilaria Capua will outline optimal strategies that researchers can use to deliver clear scientific messages to key institutions. If you can’t attend the event, you can watch the session through the live stream.

The EGU will welcome Ilaria Capua and Mario Monti at the 2019 General Assembly during the high-level Science, Politics and European (dis)integration session on Wednesday 10 April, 12:45–14:00 in room E1.

Today’s Great Debate addresses Rewards and recognition in science: what value should we place on contributions that cannot be easily measured? (GDB4: 10:45–12:30 / Room E1). Assessments of scientists and their institutions tend to focus on easy-to-measure metrics related to research outputs such as publications, citations, and grants. However, there is a growing need for scientists to communicate, engage, and work directly with the public and policy makers, and practice open scholarship, especially regarding data and software. At the session you can listen to a distinguished panel of stakeholders discuss how can we fairly value and credit harder-to-measure, these less tangible contributions, compared to the favoured metrics. You can also follow the session on Twitter (#EGU19GDB) and catch up with the EGU 2019 webstream.

The EGU Early Career Scientists’ Forum (12:45–13:45 / Room L2) is the best place to find out more about the Union and how to get involved. Because the EGU is a bottom up organisation, we are keen to hear your suggestions on how to make ECS related activities even better. There will be plenty of opportunities during the forum for you to provide feedback. It’s also over lunch, so you’ll find a buffet of sandwiches and soft drinks half way through the session!

In the evening, the EGU will be holding a reception to launch the newest addition to its collection of open access journals, Geochronology (GChron). The reception (PCN10) will be held from 18:00–19:00 at the EGU Booth in Hall X2 on the Brown Level.

Medal lectures and awards

Mioara Mandea giving the 2018 Petrus Peregrinus Medal at last year’s EGU General Assembly. (Credit: EGU / Foto Pfluegl)

Another promising event set for today is the EGU Award Ceremony (PCN3), where the achievements of many outstanding scientists will be recognised in an excellent evening event from 17:30–20:00 in Room E1. Here are some of the lectures being given by these award-winning scientists:

Additionally, a stand-alone lecture will be given by Giulia Sofia from the University of Connecticut on the linkage between humans, precipitation patterns, and floods.

Scientific sessions

There are a host of inter- and transdisciplinary events taking place today. Here are just a sample of what’s on offer:

Check the conference programme or EGU Today for details on the rest of Wednesday’s inter- and transdisciplinary sessions.

And be sure check out some of today’s stimulating scientific sessions:

Short courses

Now on to short courses! Here are just some of the sessions you might want to consider adding to your schedule, from science communication to career development:

There is also a great selection of short courses on problem solving, managing projects, and navigating new technology and programmes:

There are also many great pop-up events planned for today at the Networking and Early Career Scientist Zone, here’s just a few planned for today:

  • Let’s talk peer-review: A chance to discuss and get ideas about how to carry out a thorough peer-review: 10:00
  • Early Career Scientist (ECS) Representatives meet-up: open to all ECS reps: past, present, future: 11:00
  • Meet & Greet with the geomorphology experts: 13:00
  • The IPCC and how you can get involved: 16:00

Perhaps you are looking for something fun and informal? Geoscience Game Night is a bring, show and share session to play some games that have a geoscience theme. Feel free to bring a game or just come along to have some fun. This short course follows the Games for Geoscience oral and poster sessions happening earlier today.

Finally, remember to take the opportunity to meet the people behind EGU in the day’s Meet EGU sessions.

Have an excellent day!

The EGU General Assembly is taking place in Vienna, Austria from 7 to 12 April. Check out the full session programme on the General Assembly website and follow the Assembly’s online conversation on Twitter at #EGU19.

Head on over to the EGU Booth!

Head on over to the EGU Booth!

You can find the EGU Booth in Hall X2 on the Brown Level. This is the place to come if you’d like to meet members of EGU Council and Committees (Meet EGU) and find out more about EGU activities.

Here you can discover the EGU’s 17 open access journals, browse the EGU blogs (GeoLog, the EGU Blog Network and the EGU Division Blogs), catch up on the conference Twitter feed, and more! We will also be giving away beautiful geosciences postcards, which the EGU will post for you free of charge.

Beside the booth you’ll also find the finalists in the EGU Photo Competition, make sure you vote for your favourite images!  You’ll also find the Assembly Job Spot – be sure to check it out if you’re looking for a job in the geosciences, or someone to fill as spot in your research group.

 

At the EGU Booth, you can (Credit: Foto Pfluegl / EGU).

Fabio Bonali demonstrating the use of 3D goggles to explore geology-relevant landscapes (Credit: Fabio Bonali)

Throughout the week during the networking time slot (18:00–19:00), there will be a number of receptions at the booth, listed below:

  • PCN9: Journal reception – 25 years Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics (NPG), Monday, 8 April, 18:00-19:00
  • PCN8: Diversity & Equality Reception, Tuesday, 9 April, 18:00–19:00
  • PCN10: Journal reception – Geochronology (GChron), Wednesday, 10 April, 18:00–19:00

At the same time, at the virtual reality station nearby, you’ll have the chance to experience different geological landscapes in virtual reality with Fabio Bonali, one of the winners of the EGU Public Engagement Grants 2018, and his team.

If you have any questions about the EGU, or want to be more involved in the Union, come and ask us, we’re happy to help!