The EGU Mentoring Program - Tips on Attending the EGU as a First-Timer

by Nick Schafstall

Attending the EGU General Assembly for the first time

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is a union comprised of 12,500 scientists all over the world. Every year, the general assembly is organised in Vienna and is visited by a great number of people active in Geosciences. This year, a total of 15,000 people from 106 countries, promotional stands and conference staff not included, occupied the Austria Center Vienna from Sunday 7 until Friday 13 April. I was there for the first time, and as a Quaternary entomologist I felt a bit like an outsider.

When I initially applied for the EGU I had real difficulties finding a session which could include my research. My PhD research focuses on using subfossil beetle remains to reconstruct climate and landscapes to set up baselines in questions of nature and landscape conservation. This research topic would technically fall under Biogeosciences. However, none of the session descriptions seemed relevant for my PhD research. Yet I w…

Trials in Taxonomy: Popcorn, Spirals, and Roses

by Robyn Granger

In 2016, I worked as a teaching assistant to a group of biology and conservation undergraduates. Despite my taxonomy knowledge being rather limited (having done my Master's degree in Palaeoclimatology), the students never seemed to tire of asking me to identify various species in the field. It wasn't long before they began to affectionately quip “Robyn is a palaeoclimatologist - she knows nothing,” whenever I informed them that I was unable to tell them the difference between a plant that might kill them, and one that would be good rolled up in a cigarette.

Figure 1: Both of these organisms are the same species? Now I'm really confused...[1]

They would probably laugh if they could see me now. Two years later, I have found myself nose-deep in a PhD with a significant biological component, which involves picking out the subtlest of differences between tiny ocean-dwelling organisms called foraminifera. My project involves refining one of the chemical proxy met…

Newspaper Reports in Romania – What Do They Tell Us about Extreme Meteorological Events of the Early 19th Century?

by Aritina Haliuc

Sources of information

Extreme meteorological events, such as droughts or floods, are expected to increase in many parts of the globe under predicted climate changes of the next decades (Fig. 1). Yet, the forecasted frequency, intensity and occurrence of extreme meteorological events include large uncertainties as they depend upon location and season. These events are of particular interest for society as they can cause important human, economic and environmental losses.

To better understand extreme meteorological events and to improve future meteorological forecasts, we rely on information extracted from natural archives such as tree rings, peat bogs, lakes and fluvial deposits (associated with rivers and streams). Natural archives provide information over hundreds and thousands of years back in time and are complemented by historical and instrumental data in the more recent past spanning few centuries. 

Historical data include chronicles, monastery documents, ship log…

Science Policy: An Approach to 'Actually Do Something' about Climate Change

by Heather Plumpton

What inspired you to apply to work on your PhD topic or current post-doc?

For me - brace yourself for a strong dose of naivety here - I wanted to do something about climate change. I wanted to make a difference, to have a positive impact on the world, to help tackle a big problem for humanity. I know that this isn’t the case for every researcher, and the importance of fundamental research should not be understated or swept aside in favour of more applied science. But there does seem to be a strong contingent of early-career researchers who went into research in the hopes of providing solutions and influencing the actions of governments.

After the initial burst of excitement about the potential application of my PhD research, I soon realised that achieving this positive impact on society was not as straightforward as I had imagined. I couldn’t just publish papers and attend conferences and hope that my research would be picked up and used by policy makers. So what s…

The Power of Networking as an ECR

by Vachel A Carter

I consider myself socially awkward; an introvert if you will. I best relate to the fictional character Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers; walking through life in my own hilarious and charismatic way while simultaneously finding myself sweating at the idea of walking up to complete strangers at conferences or workshops and introducing myself. Yet, here I am writing about my personal experiences regarding the power of networking at conferences and workshops.

But before I begin, you may be asking yourself ‘how does Vachel (pronounced like Michelle, but with a ‘V’, not Rachel with a ‘V’) break past her self-induced mental barrier of her own social awkwardness?’ Humor, my friends, and lots of it! I use humor to break the ice in almost every situation; whether it be in presentations at big conferences, organizing workshops, or in social gatherings. Nothing sets the stage better than a quick laugh. Plus, it adds a bit of character and lets your audiences know that you’re pe…

Around Antarctica in Five Years

by Thomas Ronge

I’m currently working on a project in which I’m trying to reconstruct changes in the circulation patterns of the Southern Ocean and their impact on past climate parameters. However, while looking at my data, pondering how water masses are transported from one spot in the ocean to another, I suddenly had to think about a big yellow buoy which crossed my path last year…

Is it an AUV? Is it an Argo Float? No! It’s a renegade buoy, casually braving the Southern Ocean. 
©Thomas Ronge/AWI

In February of 2017, heading for the Antarctic Amundsen Sea, we had been sailing the Southern Ocean for about a week. One day before we reached the sea ice margin, we spotted a big yellow buoy, dancing in the icy waves.

From the distance, the crew of R/V Polarstern could easily identify the buoy as the detached, uppermost part of a scientific mooring. During our expeditions, we always try to collect floating garbage and dispose of it properly, back on land. Therefore, the captain and our chie…

Dig Deeper! Why Do We Care about Lake Sediments?

by Alicja Bonk

Summer at the lake

Many people, when asked what they think about when they hear the word "lake", immediately answer "swimming", "summer" or "fish" (especially if the person asked is a fishing enthusiast). In this post, I will try to show you that lakes have even more to offer. To be more specific, I will explain why lake sediments in particular are of high interest to many people.

Why does all of this mud matter?

The answer to this question is quite complex. Lakes are considered as one of the best natural archives to track environmental and climatic changes because they store all information available not only from their direct catchment (Fig. 1) but also from a bigger area. It might come as a surprise to some, but climatic fluctuations, fires, human activities (eg. industry, agriculture) and many other factors can be tracked with the use of lake sediments.

The biggest advantage of lake sediments is that the life cycle of a lake is rel…

A Scenario for Sustainable Energy and Water Systems Integration in Urban Areas

by Renata Mikalauskiene

Reliability and quality of energy and water is a global concern that impacts the daily life of the 21st century civilization.
Water and energy are intricately linked and should be managed as interrelated resources. The concept of the energy and water nexus refers to the relationship between the water used for energy production including both electricity and sources of fuel and the energy consumed to extract, purify, deliver, treat and dispose of water or/and wastewater.

Rising demand for energy has the potential to significantly increase water consumption. Energy producers and consumers seek to evaluate their energy options and developing policies that apply appropriate financial carrots and sticks to various technologies to encourage sustainable energy production, including cost, carbon, and security considerations. Energy and water nexus needs to be part of this debate, particularly how communities will manage the trade-offs between water and energy at the loca…

Convening a Conference Session: A Recommendation Letter

by Stella Alexandroff

Different people benefit from conferences in different ways, with varying success and comfort levels. 

You might love public speaking or you might feel nauseous from the very thought of walking up to the podium. You might ask yourself where on earth the advice originated from that you should picture the audience without clothes; a room full of naked colleagues with their eyes fixed on you would not necessarily make you feel any less uneasy.

You might love to mingle and engage in fruitful and inspiring discussions at poster sessions. You might find yourself face-to-face with a renowned scientist from your field, your first instinct being to ask them for an autograph (or a job), but after careful consideration you settle for feeling nervous and acting like a fool instead.
If you are like me, you might develop a whole new set of insecurities when standing next to your poster, trying to figure out how to attract readers and encourage conversations, but at the same tim…