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Roundup of EGU Twitter Journal Club 2

13 Jul

The EGU’s Twitter Journal Club had its second virtual meeting yesterday, this time focusing on a paper from the EGU’s journal Biogeosciences, investigating the means by which microscopic life is sustained in the hostile aridity of the Atacama Desert. Read a full transcript of our discussion on our Storify page!

Vast expanse of Chile’s Atacama Desert, one of the most arid regions in the world. (source: Wikimedia)

The European Geosciences Union, through publishing house Copernicus Publications, publishes 14 peer-reviewed Open Access journalsBiogeosciences (BG, IF 3.587)  is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of the interactions between the biological, chemical and physical processes in terrestrial or extraterrestrial life with the geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. The objective of the journal is to cut across the boundaries of established sciences and achieve an interdisciplinary view of these interactions.

EGU Twitter Journal Club: Article 2

6 Jul

Time for the second edition of the EGU’s Twitter Journal Club, our interactive online discussion about a timely scientific article. Full details can be found here

This time, our article focuses on one of the most extreme environments on Earth, the Atacama Desert in Chile, and the method by which rock-dwelling microorganisms obtain their water. The Twitter discussion will take place on Thursday 12 July at 17:00 CEST (hashtag #egutjc2). Please email the EGU’s Science Communications Fellow Edvard Glücksman with further questions. Happy reading!

The Atacama Desert is one of Earth’s driest environments. (credit: Wikimedia)

Novel water source for endolithic life in the hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert
Biogeosciences, 9, 2275-2286, 2012

Abstract. The hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert, Chile, is possibly the driest and most life-limited place on Earth, yet endolithic microorganisms thrive inside halite pinnacles that are part of ancient salt flats. The existence of this microbial community in an environment that excludes any other life forms suggests biological adaptation to high salinity and desiccation stress, and indicates an alternative source of water for life other than rainfall, fog or dew. Here, we show that halite endoliths obtain liquid water through spontaneous capillary condensation at relative humidity (RH) much lower than the deliquescence RH of NaCl. We describe how this condensation could occur inside nano-pores smaller than 100 nm, in a newly characterized halite phase that is intimately associated with the endolithic aggregates. This nano-porous phase helps retain liquid water for long periods of time by preventing its evaporation even in conditions of utmost dryness. Our results explain how life has colonized and adapted to one of the most extreme environments on our planet, expanding the water activity envelope for life on Earth, and broadening the spectrum of possible habitats for life beyond our planet.

Questions to think about:
1. How would you summarise this article in a tweet?

2. The Atacama Desert is one of the driest environments on the planet. Can you think of others, and do you know of similar studies done there?

3. What is the link between the research presented here and our quest to find extraterrestrial life?

4. How could the methods presented here be improved in follow-up studies?

5. Do you see industrial applications for these findings?

Related media coverage
National Geographic Magazine
Sydney Morning Herald

The European Geosciences Union, through publishing house Copernicus Publications, publishes 14 peer-reviewed Open Access journalsBiogeosciences (BG, IF 3.587)  is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of the interactions between the biological, chemical and physical processes in terrestrial or extraterrestrial life with the geosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. The objective of the journal is to cut across the boundaries of established sciences and achieve an interdisciplinary view of these interactions.

Roundup of EGU Twitter Journal Club 1

22 Jun

The EGU’s Twitter Journal Club had its first virtual meeting yesterday, discussing an article on a climate change related blunder made by The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World and the swift response of an international group of scientists.

You can read a full transcript of our discussion on our brand new Storify page. Even though Twitter went down after an hour’s discussion, we’re optimistic that the TJC will continue to bring out the best of our now-over-1,000 followers!

Greenland ice outlines, from Kargel et al. 2012, published in The Cryosphere, an open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union (6, 533–537, 2012)

The European Geosciences Union, through publishing house Copernicus Publications, publishes 14 peer-reviewed Open Access journalsThe Cryosphere (TC) (IF 3.641)  is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of frozen water and ground on Earth and on other planetary bodies.

EGU Twitter Journal Club: Article 1

15 Jun

The EGU is pleased to announce the launch of its Twitter Journal Club, a regular, interactive online discussion about a timely scientific article. Full details can be found here

Our first ever article, described below, covers a climate change related blunder made by The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World and the swift response of an international group of scientists. The Twitter discussion will take place on Thursday 21 June at 17:00 CEST (hashtag #egutjc1). Please email the EGU’s Science Communications Fellow Edvard Glücksman with further questions. Happy reading!

Greenland ice outlines, from Kargel et al. 2012, published in The Cryosphere, an open-access journal of the European Geoscience Union

Greenland’s shrinking ice cover: “fast times” but not that fast
The Cryosphere, 6, 533–537, 2012

Abstract. A map of Greenland in the 13th edition (2011) of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World made headlines because the publisher’s media release mistakenly stated that the permanent ice cover had shrunk 15% since the previous 10th edition (1999) revision. The claimed shrinkage was immediately challenged by glaciologists, then retracted by the publisher. Here we show: (1) accurate maps of ice extent based on 1978/87 aerial surveys and recent MODIS imagery; and (2) shrinkage at 0.019%a−1 in 50 000 km2 of ice in a part of east Greenland that is shown as ice-free in The Times Atlas.

Questions to think about:
1. Broadly, how does this article tie in with the current climate change debate, and the general public’s perception of environmental change?

2. Based on this paper, do you get the impression we need to be worried about Greenland’s ice shrinkage?

3. Do you often catch mistakes in the scientific content given to the general public by respected publishers? If so, what are some examples? Do you challenge them?

4. Here, the authors brought the Greenland map mistake up on www.cryolist.org, an open listserver for glaciologists. Would it be worth setting up a more general communications environment (website, forum etc) where mistakes like this can be reported? Do you know of any currently in use?

5. Is an article like this really necessary (see its final sentence), or are the authors being pedantic or perhaps even exaggerating the importance of the impact of their work?

6. Given all the benefits of online distribution methods (cheaper, easy to correct, wider potential audience), are paper atlases on their way out and, if so, is this a good thing?

Related media coverage
The BBC
The Carbon Brief
The National Review
The Telegraph

The European Geosciences Union, through publishing house Copernicus Publications, publishes 14 peer-reviewed Open Access journalsThe Cryosphere (TC) (IF 3.641)  is an international scientific journal dedicated to the publication and discussion of research articles, short communications and review papers on all aspects of frozen water and ground on Earth and on other planetary bodies.

Launching the EGU Twitter Journal Club!

12 Jun

To commemorate approaching the magical 1,000-follower mark on Twitter, the EGU is happy to launch its online journal club! This relatively new concept has proven to be very popular in other areas of science and we’re keen to see how it evolves within the rapidly growing EGU online community.

Get ready for the launch of EGU’s very own journal club!

How does it work?
Initially, we will present you with a publicly accessible journal article (likely from an EGU publication), you read it, then all of us ‘discuss’ it on Twitter at a specified time using a specific hashtag (#egutjc). The Storify transcript of the event will subsequently be published on our blog. As the club progresses, you will be asked to recommend articles for discussion based on your own interests and expertise.

How long do we get to read the article?
You will get around a week to read each article before the discussion takes place.

How long is the discussion?
The formal portion of the discussion will last one hour but, if there’s more to say, feel free to continue for longer.

Will we be provided with background information?
Yes, we will precede each discussion by tweeting any relevant links and information we can find – and we hope you will do the same. The announcement of the article will be accompanied by a short summary as well as discussion points to get you started.

Sounds great! When does it start?
Soon! The first article will be divulged on GeoLog and Twitter on Friday 15 June. The first journal club discussion will take place on Thursday 21 June at 17:00 CEST, allowing even our most distant North American friends to join in from the breakfast table.

What if I have more questions?
Please email the EGU’s Science Communications Fellow Edvard Glücksman with further questions.

Publications by the EGU

10 May

The EGU is responsible for 14 Open Access journals, all freely available online

Since 2001, the EGU and Open Access publishing house Copernicus Publications has published a growing number of successful geoscientific journals. These include 14 peer-reviewed Open Access journals, of which 11 have a Thomson Reuters Impact Factor, placing them in the top echelon of their respective discipline. EGU also publishes a host of other materials available in paper and online. As a signatory of the Berlin Open Access Declaration (2003), the EGU is committed to making all their publications freely available.

The EGU’s Open Access scientific journals are:


Review: 2012 General Assembly Great Debate on open science and the future of publishing

4 May

Today’s guest post comes from freelance writer Celso Gomes, who also worked at the 2012 General Assembly Press Centre.

Upon admitting that he refused to knowingly associate with Elsevier for years, Cambridge’s award-winning mathematician Tim Gowers stirred a discussion of unprecedented magnitude surrounding Open Access publishing. Such public outcry has so far culminated with over 10.000 other researchers following in his footsteps and vowing to boycott Elsevier journals, and the movement is still gaining momentum. Has the time come for a new publishing paradigm?

The first of this year’s Great Debates explored just that question, starring some of the heavyweights from both sides of the barricade. From the traditional publishing industry, delegates from Elsevier, Springer, and Oxford University Press (OUP) were present; and the Open Access movement was represented by PloS, Copernicus.org and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association.

Great Debate on Open Access publishing, including the panelists and chair, Edvard Glücksman of the EGU (far right). Photo: Suzanne Voice

After a quick introduction of the panelists, the debate kicked off by giving voice to a thought that has been on the mind of many researchers: why have the traditional publishers been so resistant to move towards open access? –  provocatively suggesting it might all boil down to profit margins. Opinions were as polarised as could be expected but it quickly became clear that profit is just one dimension of a very complex question.

In fact, the case was put forward that there are already several business models in the academic publishing field and not all can successfully accommodate a shift towards open access, with journals in the social sciences and also learned societies-backed journals as two examples. Fields with little to no centralised funding sources would arguably find it financially unsustainable to make the shift from subscription-based to the author pays model, as a significant portion of the individual or group-level research budget would need to be allocated to cover publication costs. On the other hand, the many societies which rely on the steady revenue stream from their publications are (claimed to be) weary of making the shift due to concerns that income from their journals might be significantly reduced or disappear altogether. However, such financial hurdles might be just temporary, as new financial models to back academic publishing are being developed by funders and research institutions themselves.

The discussion moved on to explore what might happen to research communication in the future, driven by the rise to dominance of a much more versatile digital media which has technological tools that challenge the conceptual notion of the research article. Geosciences are a particularly interesting case in this respect, given that the knowledge that needs to be transferred goes far beyond the images and text of the contemporary journal articles – large data sets seem almost ubiquitous and some (incredibly complex) concepts are much better explained in video than in writing. Publishing houses recognise this trend and appear to be experimenting with new formats, but details are sparse at this stage and it is unclear to what extent traditional publishing houses will make content freely available and what will continue to be hidden behind a paywall.

Still, there is a clear sense amongst all the panel members that Open Access publishing (and open science) will eventually rise to prominence , but how fast the changes take place is largely dependent on the researcher’s ability to break free from the current publishing paradigm – will it be gradual or are we witnessing an ‘academic spring’? While there is no answer, there are solid arguments for both cases, which you can revisit in detail by watching the debate in its entirety on the General Assembly’s website.

By Celso Gomes, freelance writer

Geocinema films available online (3/3)

13 May

This is the last in a series of posts (Part 1, Part 2) with descriptions and online locations of Geocinema films. A film’s inclusion in the Geocinema does not mean that EGU endorses any opinions expressed in the film. If you have a film you’d like to submit for the Geocinema at the EGU GA 2012 look out for the call.

Inspection Exercise in Jordan, 6 mins [Online]
This film discusses a simulated on-site inspection exercise that was carried out in regards to monitoring compliance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Listening for Nuclear Noise, 5 mins [Online]
This film discusses some of the technology used to monitor compliance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. In particular the technology that goes into a typical infrasound monitoring station, this particular station is located in the Bavarian Forest.

EISCAT_3D, our window to geospace, 7 min [Online]
FFAB:UK, together with EISCAT Scientific Association, has produced an information film about the EISCAT_3D project. It explains the background, the concept, and some of the new science that will be possible when the EISCAT_3D facilities are completed.

Earth System Trailer, 7 mins [Online]
Trailer for a documentary feature about climate, what the scientists know, what is unknown and what needs to be done to improve our stewardship of this planet. ESS trailer explores the need for next generation supercomputing to develop climate models which are a prerequisite to predicting climate change with scientific certainty.

SNORTEX – Snow reflectance transition experiment, 10 mins [Online]
The video introduces the SNORTEX (Snow Reflectance Transition Experiment) campaign taken place in Sodankylä (lat. 67.4N), Finland, in spring 2009. An overview on the background, objectives and expected scientific outcome of the campaign is given. Experimental methods and equipment employed in ground-based and air-borne measurements of snow reflectance and characterization of snow properties are presented.

Science@ESA: Solar System, Siblings of Earth and the Moon and Titan, 54 mins total [Online, with others]
In these Science@ESA vodcasts Rebecca Barnes looks at the Solar System. We’ll discover the scale and structure of the Solar System, find out why we explore it and introduce the European missions launched on a quest to further investigate our local celestial neighbourhood. We’ll look at two of the terrestrial planets: Venus and Mars, explore their similarities and differences to Earth and find out about the European missions that are helping to unravel their mysteries. Finally we’ll look at the Earth’s Moon and Titan, two very different natural satellites in our Solar System, and find out about the two ESA missions that have explored them.

Huygens probe landing on Earthlike world, 5 mins [Online]
This short film documents spectacular descent of ESA’s Huygens on Saturn’s giant moon Titan.

Geocinema Films available online (2/3)

11 May

Did you miss a particular film during the GeoCinema at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2011? Here’s the second post containing where to see films that are available online. A film’s inclusion in the Geocinema does not mean that EGU endorses any opinions expressed in the film.

Royal NIOZ, Fathoming the Sea, 10 mins [Online]
Once again a prominent scientific institute called Zcenes help in making science accessible for all who are fascinated by marine sciences. “After NWO, Utrecht University, European Science Foundation and NSF/IODP (USA), NIOZ, the Royal Dutch Maritime Research Centre, has asked us to produce a film focusing on how oceans work, global climate history, the dynamics of the coastal Waddenzee and the significance of Dutch maritime research”.

Drill Bits, 20 mins in total 5 mins for each section [Online, listed by geographical location]
Drilling into Lake Peten Itza (Guatemala) for paleoclimate studies on drill core. Scientific drilling into Lake Malawi (Malawi) for paleoclimate studies. Drilling through the San Andreas Fault at seismogenic depths. Scientific Drilling at Hawaii to investigate Hot Spot volcanism.

We are prepared – Tsunami Early Warning System, 5 mins [Online]
Describes the installation of a Tsunami Early Warning System (GITEWS) in Indonesia and shows some of the different components. It reflects the interaction as well as the human factor.

Deep Sea Observatories: Internet in the Ocean, 9 mins [Online, with other similar movies]
ESONET movie to show observatories preparation and deployment on ESONET sites.

Ocean Under Observation, 9 mins [Online, with other similar movies]
This movie explain why now we have to go a step forward in the earth and Sea observation by developing and implementing deep sea observatories that are able to provide real time or near real time data continuously, with a high sampling frequency and on long term, (more than 10 years).

Signs of Life on Mars, 5 mins [Online]
A musical video to inspire the next generation of explorers.

Webstreams from the EGU GA 2011

13 Apr

All the webstreamed events at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly are available online still. Please share with those you think will find them useful.

Webstreaming Page.

The events from the EGU GA 2011 that are available are:
US1 A Planet Under Pressure
US2 The Future of Water Cycle Earth Observing Systems
US3 How Science Can Aid Society in Tackling Emerging Risks
US4 The 22 February 2011 Christchurch Earthquake
US5 The 11 March 2011 Tohoku (Sendai) Earthquake and Tsunami
GDG1 How will Europe face the raw materials crisis?
UMC1 What are the unresolved questions and future perspectives for palaeoclimate research? An EGU Masterclass by André Berger and Wolfgang H. Berger
ML1 Alfred Wegener Medal Lecture – Understanding the drivers of environmental changes in West Africa from sedimentary deep-sea records by Gerold Wefer
ML2 Arthur Holmes Medal Lecture – Three grand challenges in geomorphology: rock, climate, and life by William E. Dietrich
ML3 Jean Dominique Cassini Medal Lecture – Highlights of ESA’s Planetary Sciences Programme Achievements and a Glimpse into the Future by Jean-Pierre Lebreton
US0 EGU Award Ceremony

Also the press conferences are available;
Press Conference 1 A new science plan for ocean drilling – The Future of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program
Press Conference 2 Polar Ozone – What’s going on in the Arctic?
Press Conference 3 What can we do about Europe’s raw materials crisis?
Press Conference 4 Unlocking climate and sea level secrets since the Last Glacial Maximum – Results from the IODP Great Barrier Reef Environmental Changes Expedition
Press Conference 5 Geothermal energy versus CO2-storage: can we use the underground more than once?
Press Conference 6 GOCE & GRACE: global impacts of the ever changing surface of the Earth, recent mission results
Press Conference 7 Emerging risks and natural hazards: a multi-stakeholder approach to understanding and managing extremes
Press Conference 8 Oxygen Depletion – Triple Trouble
Press Conference 9 The 22 February 2011 Christchurch Earthquake
Press Conference 10 Tsunami impact and Tsunami Early Warning Systems