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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.

‘International Innovation’ meets EGU

13 Jun

International Innovation is a global dissemination publication that provides access to interviews, content and presentations for the wider scientific, technology and research communities. The magazine has, on various occasions, interviewed EGU personalities such as Ulrich Pöschl (Publications Committee Chair), a few division presidents and, most recently, EGU’s Executive Secretary, Philippe Courtial. Some of these EGU-related interviews are now available online.

  • Interview with Gert-Jan Reichard: “Biogeology has emerged over the past decade as one of the most important fields within the geosciences. Dr Gert-Jan Reichart, Division President of Biogeosciences at the European Geosciences Union offers his insight into the environmental challenges we face and how this research area is striving to address them”
  • Interview with Philippe Courtial: “Executive Secretary of the EGU, Dr Philippe Courtial, details the work of the Union in assisting scientists and improving the availability of accurate scientific data”
  • Interview with Michael Kühn: “Boldly trying to push science for solutions to solve the energy problems of tomorrow, Michael Kühn [EGU Division President of Energy, Resources and the Environment] is studying new approaches where renewables play a vital role”
  • Interview with Ulrich Pöschl: “The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is the world leader in interactive open access publishing and public peer review. We speak exclusively to Dr Ulrich Pöschl, the EGU Chair of Publication Committee, about the important work being done in the pursuit of knowledge sharing in the geosciences”
  • Interview with Denis-Didier Rousseau: “President of the European Geosciences Union, Division on Climate: Past, Present and Future, provides an insight into the ever expanding remit of this branch of the EGU”

(A few of these texts have also been reproduced with permission in GeoQ, the quarterly newsletter of the European Geosciences Union.)

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.

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

Become a freelance writer for the EGU newsletter!

18 Jan

Interested in science writing? Are you looking to get published and get paid for it? Keep reading.

The newsletter of the European Geosciences Union, currently known as The Eggs, is a magazine and information service distributed for free to all EGU members — around 12,000 scientists. It will be rebranded and relaunched in late February or early March with a new layout, content structure, and name: GeoQ. The new version will keep much of the informative material of its predecessor, but will also see some changes. In particular, we want to feature even more pieces on recent research in the earth, planetary and space sciences written for a general (technical) audience.

We are looking for young scientists or established researchers with a demonstrable passion and aptitude for science communication interested in writing for GeoQ on a freelance basis. Science writers are also welcome to apply to contribute to the newsletter. Freelancers will not only see their texts published in a magazine with a wide readership, but will also receive a €100 Amazon voucher per 800 to 1000-words article as payment.

If you are interested in this opportunity, contact GeoQ’s Chief Editor, Bárbara T. Ferreira, at geoq@egu.eu for more information.

GeoQ, the new EGU newsletter. Coming soon!

Become a book reviewer for the EGU newsletter!

11 Jan

Interested in free books and getting published? The EGU has an opportunity for you.

The Union’s newsletter, currently known as The Eggs, is a magazine and information service distributed for free to all Union members — around 12,000 scientists. It will be rebranded and relaunched in late February or early March with a new layout, content structure, and name: GeoQ. While the new version will see some changes (stay tuned!), it will keep much of the informative material of its predecessor, including book reviews.

We are currently looking for young scientists or established researchers in the geosciences and the planetary and space sciences to review books for GeoQ. Reviewers will receive the books free of charge and their work will be published in the newsletter accompanied by their name and short biography. It’s an ideal opportunity for scientists with a flair for science writing interested in seeing their texts published in a newsletter with a wide readership.

Contact GeoQ’s Chief Editor, Bárbara T. Ferreira, at geoq@egu.eu if you are interested in reviewing book for the newsletter, or if you have any questions. Please also inform Bárbara about your areas of expertise (check the list of EGU Divisions for reference).

GeoQ, the new EGU newsletter. Coming soon!

New EGU Media and Communications Officer

22 Sep

Bárbara Ferreira, the newest staff member of the EGU office in Munich, has recently started working as the Union’s Media and Communications Officer. She will coordinate media-related and science information communications between the EGU and its membership, the working media, and the public at large.

Before joining EGU, Bárbara worked as a science writer at the European Southern Observatory, based in Garching near Munich, and at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in London. Her studies include an undergraduate degree from the University of Porto (Portugal) and a PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK), which she completed in 2010. On her free time, Bárbara keeps a Nature Network blog, Dinner Party Science.

Bárbara can be reached at +49 (0)89 2180-6703 or media@egu.eu.