Archive | March, 2012

A first-timers guide to the 2012 General Assembly

28 Mar

Will this be your first time at an EGU General Assembly? With over 10,000 participants in a massive venue, the GA can be a confusing and, at times, overwhelming place.  To help you find your way, Jennifer Holden, former EGU Science Communications Fellow and a regular attendee of the meeting, prepared an introductory handbook filled with history, useful presentation pointers, and tips about Vienna and its surroundings.  Download it from here!

Empty poster hall at the EGU General Assembly.

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Seismic Spring, part 2: Planes, trains and snowmobiles

27 Mar

As the Arctic wakes up from its polar night, Dr Adam Booth is leading a team of UK geophysicists on a two-week campaign of seismic investigations on Storglaciären, a mountain glacier in northern Sweden. He is reporting on the expedition in a series of posts published here in GeoLog. This is his second post, and the first from the research station itself. Check out the first post here.

Hello, from Tarfala Research Station!  After 48 hours of travel, it’s really satisfying to be able to say these words! For those who like visualising journeys as a red line that links points on a map, Tavi, Charlotte, Roger and myself have traveled between:

• Swansea and London (by train – although Roger actually got a lift down from Leeds…),

• London and Stockholm (by plane),

• Stockholm and Kiruna (by overnight train),

• Kiruna and Nikkaluokta (by local bus), and finally

• Nikkaluokta to Tarfala Research Station (by snowmobile – see figure below for a close-up!).

Snowmobile route from Nikkaluokta to Tarfala, across Láddjujávri lake and up into Tarfala Valley; Storglaciären (SG) is highlighted, south-west of Tarfala (grid squares are 2km). Inset photos: Roger and I are all smiles, as we head out of Nikkaluokta (right). An Alltransport snowmobile under a darkening sky (centre). The Alltransport crew prepare to haul our kit up a steep slope in Tarfala Valley (left).

As lengthy as our journey was, it was only its last leg that posed any real problem – but this was most impressively overcome for us by Erik Sarri and his team of snowmobile aces at Nikkaluokta Alltransport.  We left Nikkaluokta on snowmobile sleds with just a few flakes of snow in the air, although the sky became heavier as we crossed the frozen Láddjujávri lake.  Twenty minutes later, we entered Tarfala Valley, where our drivers faced steep, deep snowdrifts and the occasional white-out, with a strong wind lashing the loose snow into their visors.  But with a combination of experience and sheer determination, Alltransport ensured that four scientists and 400kg of seismic kit were safely delivered to Tarfala Research Station.  Thanks a million to all the team!

I was last in Tarfala in summer 2009, again as part of a study of Storglaciären. Back then, every day for two weeks, Alessio Gusmeroli and I could look up to the glacier before setting off at a leisurely stroll.  Right now, Storglaciären cannot even be seen from Tarfala because the wind hasn’t eased up at all (gusting at up to 80kph!) so, beyond the dozen-or-so buildings that make up the research station, the world appears completely white!  To prove that Storglaciären is still there, Andreas Bergström (Tarfala’s station manager) and I tried to snowmobile a box of equipment onto the glacier this afternoon (see below).

Almost my first view of Storglaciären this spring...! I’m waiting with the equipment, while Andreas and the snowmobile (circled) attempt the climb. The view looks almost west, from the forefield of the glacier.

The complicating factor here is that the front of Storglaciären is quite steep.  Whilst Andreas could get the unladen snowmobile up the slope, it got bogged down when towing cargo.  It’s a problem of snow conditions: despite the wind, air temperatures are actually quite warm – it got slightly above 0°C today – and this partial melting makes the snow dense, sticky, and uncooperative when we’re struggling to tow geophysical equipment!  What we need is a big chill – a calm, cold night to refreeze the snow, and we’re expecting these conditions in a few days.

So, I’m forced to hand the initial victory to the weather!  But it’s not all bad news – we’ve had time today to unpack, check and organise all of our equipment, and Charlotte has been practicing walking on snowshoes.  As the photographer here, I tried to follow in her footsteps, but sank straight into the thigh-deep drift!  Clear proof – snowshoes really do work!

Charlotte test-driving the snowshoes around Tarfala. In my normal boots, I couldn’t stand on the same snowdrift (I’m sure it’s more about pressure than weight...!).

If the wind eases tomorrow, we’ll power up some of the equipment and test it around Tarfala, and hopefully we’ll get some kit up onto the ice.  Wish us luck, and I’ll keep you posted!

Useful links: Nikkaluokta AlltransportAlessio Gusmeroli

By Adam Booth, post-doc at Swansea University

Imaggeo on Mondays: Quito and Cotopaxi

26 Mar

Quito and Cotopaxi by Martin Mergili, distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

The sky is painted purple in this stunning evening photo taken near Quito, Ecuador. The country’s second most populous city is illuminated by artificial light, and Cotopaxi, an active volcano forming part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, looks out in the background.

Located about 28 km south of Quito, Cotopaxi is the second highest summit in Ecuador (5,897 m) and features one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world. Since 1738, Cotopaxi has erupted more than 50 times, including some disastrous events during the 18th and 19th centuries. Its activity continues to impact the surrounding landscape considerably. A major eruption of Cotopaxi could produce a lot of meltwater from the ice cap. The resulting mudflows of volcanic fragments may also affect part of suburban Quito, thought to house over a million people.

Geomorphologist Martin Mergili took this picture in 2007 during a field excursion with a team from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. “The photo was taken from the Cruz Loma hill at an altitude of about 4,000 m in the Western Cordillera of Ecuador. In that region just south of the equator, the Andes are divided into two major chains. The Eastern Cordillera is dominated by the ice-capped Cotopaxi stratovolcano shown in the background, which is one of the highest active volcanoes worldwide. Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is located at approximately 2,850 m above sea level on a terrace above the longitudinal valley separating the Eastern and the Western Cordillera,” he explains.

To view more from Martin Mergili’s collection of photos, many of which have geoscientific relevance, please visit: www.mergili.at/worldimages.

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.

Presenting at the 2012 General Assembly

23 Mar

Oral Presentations

The guidelines for oral presentations are online. The link also specifies the equipment available in each room (laptop, beamer, microphone, laser pointer, ability to hook up your own laptop, etc.). Oral presentations this year are in four 90-minute time blocks, with each talk being about 12 minutes long with 3 minutes for questions. Please be in the presentation room approximately 30 minutes before your time block starts, so your presentation can be uploaded to the provided laptop or so you can connect your laptop to the system.

Austria Center Vienna by night during last year's General Assembly

Posters

Guidelines for poster presentations are also online. Importantly, the required dimensions of poster boards are 197 cm x 100 cm (landscape). Posters should be hung between 08:00 and 08:30 in the morning using tape available from roaming student assistants. By the start of the Assembly, EGU will have sent your poster location (e.g. XY0439) by email. Locations are also listed online in the programme. You can find the exact location of your poster using the online floor plans. At the end of each day, the student assistants will carefully remove posters and place them in storage bins in the poster halls, labeled by day.

The Authors in Attendance Time will also have been sent to you. Note that some sessions may have a poster walk-through (in some cases this will be noted in the session details), where authors are asked to summarise their poster with other members of their session in attendance. Other sessions will comprise scheduled poster summaries and discussion.

A list of the equipment in PSD (Poster Summaries & Discussions) rooms is on the EGU GA website, as are guidelines for converners.

Time Blocks

Timetabling at the General Assembly is in four time blocks as follows:
TB1 08:30–10:00
TB2 10:30–12:00
TB3 13:30–15:00
TB4 15:30–17:00

There is free tea and coffee available in the poster halls in the breaks between TB1 & TB2 and TB3 & TB4.

No-shows

Including your abstract in the conference programme obliges you, or one of your co-authors, to present your contribution at the time and in the mode indicated. If you already know that your oral will not be presented, you are kindly requested to withdraw your corresponding abstract as soon as possible.

EGU 2012 General Assembly: Vienna

21 Mar

How to get to Vienna and things to do when you’re there.

Travel

Vienna’s International Airport is served by many of the major European airlines. If you are considering overland transport, see the bottom of the Transportation page on the EGU General Assembly 2012 website.

Accommodation

The best place to start looking for accommodation in Vienna is the Accommodation page of the EGU GA 2012 website. From there, you’ll be able to book hotel rooms through the Mondial Hotel Reservation Home Page. You will also find links to websites, such as http://www.jugendherberge.at or http://www.hostel.com, were you can book budget accommodation.

For apartment bookings, you can either use the websites listed in the Accommodation page, including http://www.apartmentnetzwerk.at and http://www.viennacityflats.at, or you can search on http://bedandbreakfast.de or Airbnb. Note that in the latter option, you would be booking an apartment, house, or room in a private accommodation.

Vienna from the Danube River (source: Wikimedia)

Things to do in Vienna

The Vienna Tourist Board has information about sightseeing, shows, shopping, dining and other information about the city, while the Tour My Country webpage for Austria has a comprehensive list of the museums and other tourist attractions. For more on Vienna, please check the Arrivals Hall of Vienna’s International Airport or the Tourist Information Centre (Vienna 1) at Albertinaplatz / Maysedergasse, behind the Vienna State Opera (open daily 9:00 am – 7:00 pm). Brochures can be ordered in advance from your local Austrian Tourist Office.

If you have good ideas for things to do while in Vienna, please feel free to suggest them in the comments.

Seismic Spring: A geophysical field campaign on Storglaciären, Sweden

20 Mar

As the Arctic wakes up from its polar night, Dr Adam Booth is leading a team of UK geophysicists on a two-week campaign of seismic investigations on Storglaciären, a mountain glacier in northern Sweden. He will be reporting on the expedition in a series of posts published here in GeoLog.

Hi, and thanks for your interest in our field trip! For the next two weeks, my colleagues and I will be sending back reports from our campaign on Storglaciären – today’s post introduces the project and, of course, the team.

I’m writing this from my office at Swansea University, ahead of our trip to northern Sweden. My name is Adam Booth, I’m a post-doc in Swansea’s Glaciology Group, funded by the Climate Change Consortium of Wales, C3W, project, and I specialise in the application of geophysical methods (specifically seismic and radar) to glaciological problems. I use geophysics both to measure the thickness of a glacier, but also to quantify various physical properties of the ice and the material it sits on. For example, the speed of seismic energy can tell me how much liquid water a glacier contains [1], whereas the strength of a seismic reflection tells me a great deal about the material beneath the glacier bed [2]. It is this latter method that we will apply at Storglaciären, and we hope to introduce a new dimension to glaciological interpretation of seismic datasets.

Me! Dr Adam Booth

Storglaciären is 3.2 km long, has a maximum thickness of 230 m, and sits some 150 km north of the Arctic Circle in the shadow of Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain at 2104 m. Such ‘mountain glaciers’ are important to understand for climate change purposes, since their melt currently contributes more to global sea-level rise than the larger Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets [3]. For our group, however, Storglaciären also represents an ideal ‘natural laboratory’ where we can test new geophysical ideas. Although we’d certainly aim to apply our methods on Antarctica, it is far easier and cheaper to develop new techniques at Storglaciären – particularly because of the logistical support offered by the Tarfala Research Station, which is within snowshoed walking distance of the glacier front.

Four of us are making this journey north. Joining me from Swansea University are Prof. Tavi Murray and PhD student Charlotte Axtell, and we also bring along Dr. Roger Clark from the Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics at the University of Leeds.

Tavi is Swansea’s Chair of Glaciology and, as such, has enormous glaciological expertise and is an accomplished geophysicist in her own right; she has completed field campaigns on too many glaciers to list, and has close links with the British Antarctic Survey. Charlotte, by the end of her PhD, will know Storglaciären inside-out, as her project focuses on seismic and radar methods to investigate the glacier’s liquid-water content. At the moment, she is attending a glaciology training course on Svalbard, from where she informs me that, “it is amazing, and if I could, I’d just stay here!” Finally, Roger has near-encyclopedic knowledge of the cutting-edge seismic methods that are developed and used in the hydrocarbons industry. In recent years, he has been instrumental in helping us open that toolbox for glaciological applications.

I should also acknowledge support from the INTERACT scheme, who funds this fieldwork. This is a truly fantastic initiative, which provides logistical support and access to Arctic research stations. And it’s not only for glaciologists! INTERACT’s website currently highlights diverse research themes, including for studying biodiversity, palaeo-climatology and geochemistry.

Aerial view of Storglaciären (from Google Earth). The Kebnekaise mountain is immediately west of the glacier, and Tarfala Research Station is the small collection of huts in the red circle. Inset: our location in Sweden

Joining me in the field… Left: Prof. Tavi Murray. Centre: Charlotte Axtell. Right: Dr. Roger Clark

We leave for Sweden on 23 March, and we hope to be in Tarfala two days later. I’m hoping for a smooth journey – but also that the recent high-activity Northern Lights are still active by the time we arrive. Watch this space for updates, and the latest on our project’s progress!

Further reading:
[1] Endres AL, Murray T, Booth AD and West LJ (2009): A new framework for estimating englacial water content and pore geometry using combined radar and seismic wave velocities. Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L04501.
[2] Booth AD, Clark RA, Kulessa B, Murray T and Hubbard A (2012): Thin-layer effects in glaciological seismic AVA analysis: implications for characterising a subglacial till unit, Russell Glacier, West Greenland. The Cryosphere Discuss, 6, 759-792
[3] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2007): IPCC 4th Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007 (AR4).

By Adam Booth, post-doc at Swansea University

Check out the second post in the series here!

Imaggeo on Mondays: Praia das Rodas, Spain

19 Mar

Praia das Rodas by Jorge Mataix-Solera, distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

Often listed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Praia das Rodas is located on the Isla do Faro, part of the three-island Cíes archipelago within the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park. The beach faces eastwards, towards Vigo and the Galician coast of northwestern Spain, its accumulation of sand forming a land-bridge between two islands during low tide. All three islands are the visible peaks of submerged granitic mountains.

Soil scientist Jorge Mataix-Solera visited Praia das Rodas in 2007. “The picture was taken when I arrived by boat to the island in the early morning, the day after I was on a PhD thesis evaluation committee at the University of Vigo. This beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, composed of quartz sand from granitic material,” he explains.

Beaches form over thousands of years from the deposit of sediment and other materials that moves from land into the ocean and back again.

To view more from Jorge Mataix-Solera’s astounding collection of photos, please visit: http://www.jorgemataix.com.

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 2012 General Assembly Programme now online!

14 Mar

The EGU General Assembly 2012 programme is available here.

The scientific programme of the General Assembly 2012 includes Union SymposiaInterdivision SessionsEducational and Outreach Symposia, as well as oral and poster sessions on disciplinary and interdisciplinary topics covering the full spectrum of the geosciences and the space and planetary sciences. Furthermore, Keynote and Medal LecturesGreat Debates in the Geosciences,Short CoursesTownhall Meetings, and Splinter Meetings complete the overall programme.

Since 2005, the General Assembly has taken place in Vienna (source: Wikimedia)

There are different approaches to access the programme in your preferred way:

  • Browse by day & time: Online view of the oral and poster sub-sessions, their time and location, sorted chronologically by conference days, time blocks and programme groups;
  • Browse by session: Online view of the sessions and their oral and poster sub-sessions, sorted by programme groups and session numbers;
  • Personal Programme: Online tool to generate your own personal programme by selecting specific presentations or sessions. To be printed, saved in the Copernicus Office (for later recall or modification), or generated as PDF;
  • Papers of Special Interest: Listing of those abstracts which were selected by the respective Conveners to be of special interest for the press & media representatives.

We look forward to seeing you in Vienna for the General Assembly 22-27 April 2012!

Short courses at the 2012 General Assembly

13 Mar

There are nine short courses at the EGU General Assembly 2012. 

Short courses, of length ranging from 1.5 hours to a whole day, are opportunities to learn about a subject or further your knowledge in a particular area. The short courses at this year’s General Assembly are listed below. Some courses (SC5/HS11.1) may require contact with the convenors in advance of the GA.

Short courses represent a refreshing opportunity to learn from the masters (source: Wikimedia)

SC1/NP1.5 Shourt Course: Tipping Points in the Geosciences 

SC2/NP1.6 Short Course: Nonlinear Time Series Analysis

SC3/NH10.1 Short Course: How to apply and interpret the Fast Fourier Transform

SC4/CL5.17 Visualization and Data Analysis in Earth and Climate Science

SC5/HS11.1 Short Course: Hydrological Analysis in R

SC6/IG2 Interactive Course on Stable Isotope Systematics, Tools and Applications

SC7 Writing papers and research proposals in geomorphology

SC8 Pitfalls, statistical and otherwise, in analysis of environmental data

SC9 Meet the Master

Imaggeo on Mondays: Reflecting mountains in Sørfjorden, Norway

12 Mar

A sunny morning in Sørfjorden by Martin Mergili, distributed by EGU under a Creative Commons licence.

Located just southeast of Bergen on the Norwegian Atlantic coast, Hardangerfjorden is the third longest fjord in the world, measuring more than 170 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Hardangervidda mountain plateau. Its longest branch, Sørfjorden, cuts 50 km from the main fjord and ends at Odda.

Geormorphologist Martin Mergili visited the area in 2008, following the 33rd International Geological Congress in Oslo. “The photo was taken from the small town of Odda at the southernmost tip of the Sørfjord, a southern branch of the Hardangerfjord. The western slopes of the deeply incised fjord, which are shown on the photograph, lead up to the Folgefonna, one of the major ice fields of Norway. Partly glacierised highlands and deeply incised fjords are characteristic landforms of western Norway, formed during the Pleistocene. The picture was shot on a sunny and calm morning,” he recollects.

Fjords are formed by abrasion, when a retreating glacier cuts a U-shaped valley into the surrounding bedrock. They are primarily located in mountainous regions, against prevailing westerly marine winds that are orthogonally lifted over the mountains resulting in abundant snowfall to feed the glaciers. Coasts featuring the most pronounced fjords can be found in western Norway, northwestern North America, and southwestern New Zealand.

To view more from Martin Mergili’s collection of photos, many of which have geoscientific relevance, please visit: www.mergili.at/worldimages.

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.