December 27, 2017

Dr. G’s #AGU17 Spotlight – What did I discover?

Posted by Laura Guertin

The 2017 AGU Fall Meeting was a gathering of 23,000+ global scientists unlike any other annual meeting – new location, new types of sessions and professional development opportunities… the list goes on.

It is impossible to capture all that happens during the five days of scientific programming, in addition to the field trips and workshops that occurred before and during the fall meeting. I blogged about a few items, but this AGU TV interview (presented by WebsEdge Education) of AGU Executive Director and CEO, Chris McEntee, is an overview of the fall meeting and why government science is so important.

But what did I discover? I learned some more multimedia science communication tips from a Sharing Science workshop. I learned the highlights from the 2017 Arctic Report Card, and that the Arctic shows no signs of going back to frozen temperatures. I learned why we are still in (, and that state and local governments, in addition to universities and individuals that identify as Democrat or Republican, must move beyond adaptation and focus on not contributing to climate change. I learned that there are rap artists that have their work peer-reviewed before performances!

I learned we need to stop saying we need to communicate our science to the “general public,” as there is no “one” general public but multiple audiences to target messaging. The work of NOAA is less recognized than NASA/USGS/NSF, and NOAA wants our help getting the word out on their services. The NASA calendar is still a hot item in the Exhibit Hall, as was a new feature at the AGU booth to have a your profile combined with an Earth image (mine is of water, but some people selected volcanic eruptions, glacial landscapes, etc.).

I learned that the lunchtime plenaries are not to be missed! He’s a summary of one of them, featuring Vaughan Turekian. Vaughan discusses the many ways, scientific and political, in which he believes that geoscientists are at the forefront of changing the world.

Although there were many excellent sessions, the one that I would say surprised me the most (in terms of what I learned) was the Friday session U52B: American Geophysical Union Literature Review. Brooks Hanson, Senior Vice President of AGU Publications, started the session with images highlighting Earth and Space Science in 2017, from the March for Science to solar eclipse to Cassini’s final images. Then, editors from various AGU journals came to the podium to discuss a few interesting topics that emerged in the past year. For example:

Space physics and more (from Delores Knipp, Editor in Chief, Space Weather): Rossby waves in the Sun, related to space weather storms; global navigation system satellite (GNSS) signals, record bow wave created by solar eclipse; natural sources of space radiation at ISS measured and characterized; September 2017 solar and space storms

Ice sheets and shelves (from Bryn Hubbard, Editor in Chief, JGR: Earth’s Surface): Antarctica’s ‘soft underbelly’; ice shelf structure, hydrology and stability; future ice-fed water resources

Hydrology (from Martyn Clark, Editor in Chief, Water Resources Research): The game changers in hydrology include new technologies (advances in computing, with greater complexity and deep learning; advances in remote sensing (satellite, airborne), and advances in instrumentation); changes in the scientific process (the emergence of large interdisciplinary modeling teams, more attention on coupled human-hydrology interactions, more attention on uncertainty quantification and sensitivity analysis, shift from model calibration to improving model realism); and, changes in science policy (open data, open models)

There was so much more presented, and I was pleased to see a full room with students and scientists eagerly listening to these highlights from 2017. This, to me, was the most informative session, allowing me to “catch up” on the greatest reports and discoveries across the Earth and space sciences. I stopped taking notes and just started to listen, as there was so much excellent information that I just wanted to learn and absorb. I hope that at AGU 2018, this session is repeated and recorded so that the entire AGU membership benefits from the overview of AGU journal and discipline highlights.

And the final pieces of “what I discovered” – I met some amazing scientists for the first time, I learned that having crocheted data visualizations on your poster will draw a crowd (see Dr. G’s #AGU17 Spotlight – Crocheted temperature tapestries to communicate climate data), and that having the AGU Fall Meeting in a new location can be a great change for connecting with new faces in new places!