EGU2024 - Picking and chosing sessions to attend virtually

This year's General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) will take place as a fully hybrid conference in both Vienna and online from April 15 to 19. I decided to join the event virtually this year for the full week and I've already picked several sessions I plan to attend. Among them are two sessions, I'll be presenting in. This blog post provides an overview of my itinerary.

EGU24 Banner


The week kicks off right away at 8:30 in the morning with a Union Symposia (US2) about the Climate emergency, human agency: making sense of the current state of scientific knowledge on climate change to strengthen climate literacy.

This Union Symposium will build on key findings from the Sixth Assessment Cycle of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It will place the current scientific understanding in this context of climate science history and lay out what is the current state of climate, with the observed intensification of global and regional changes, and what are physically plausible futures, unpacking how science underpins the understanding of the climate emergency. The presentations will be given by Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, IPSL, France and Joeri Rogelj, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London, Great Britain.

Then it's time for a short course (SC2.2) starting at 10:45 providing an introduction to science for policy. This will be a repeat for me, but I found this session - convended by Chloe Hill - interesting when I attended it in previous years.

This session will provide an introduction into some key ‘science for policy’ themes and provide specific details about when and how scientists can engage with policy to increase the impact of their efforts. It will also provide resources and tips for scientists so that they can start their science for policy journeys. The last part of the Short Course will include a Q&A with those working on the science-policy interface. This session will be relevant to all career levels and scientific disciplines.

In the afternoon, I plan to join short course (SC3.3) Scared of giving presentations to a (geo-)scientific audiences? as this cannot hurt in the run-up to my own presentations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This short course deals with the various reasons and symptoms of stage fright and how they can be overcome. Scientists will share their experiences and what has helped them to deal with their fear of presenting. There will be practical tips and room for questions as well as exchange of experiences. This year, we're exploring a fresh angle: science communication. While the stage is set for scientific discourse, effective communication is key. Meet our speakers, Dr. Simon Clark and Dr. Heather Handley, seasoned communicators, sharing insights!

To finish day 1 of EGU24, I picked yet another short course (SC2.6) Climate change, morals and how people understand the politics of climate change

Update April 11: Unfortunately, session SC2.6 was withdrawn, but there is an interesting alternative, I plan to join instead and it's also a short course: SC2.5 Ethics for geoscientists in a time of crisis:

What does 'ethics' mean and what is the role of ethics in your daily practices as a scientist? Where and how do ethics enter into your geoscientific research and teaching? Although ethics as a subject of study is traditionally the domain of social sciences and humanities, as scientists we are confronted with ethical questions and decisions every day. In the context of climate emergency, mass extinction and global social injustices, it is increasingly important to understand the role played by our research and the systems and structures within which our work is embedded. Ultimately, we could ask ourselves a question: does our research contribute to building a world that corresponds to our values?

In between these sessions - or if I find out that one I planned to attend isn't quite a good fit for my interests - I may pay a virtual visit to to check out some virtual posters or find some people to chat with.

EGU24 Gather Town


The morning is mostly taken up by a "double slot" Education and Outreach session (EOS4.4) titled Geoethics: The significance of geosciences for society and the e nvironment. This session is convened by Silvia Peppoloni with Svitlana Krakovska, Giuseppe Di Capua and David Crookall as co-conveners.

Geoscience knowledge and practices are essential for effectively navigating the complexities of the modern world. They play a critical role in addressing urgent global challenges on a planetary scale (including, climate change and its social, humanitarian, and health impacts), informing decision-making processes and guiding education at all levels. However, the response to these challenges remains largely inadequate across the board. By equipping both citizens and the wider societal stakeholders with the necessary knowledge background, geosciences empower them to engage in meaningful discussions, shape policies, contribute to reduce inequities and injustice, and implement solutions for local, regional, and global social-environmental problems. Within this broad scope, geoethics strives to establish a shared ethical framework that guides geoscientists’ engagement with sensitive and significant issues concerning the interaction between geoscience and society.

I may pop-out of that session for a bit to listen to a press conference starting at 10:00 about Unveiling Antarctica’s secrets: new research brings us one step closer to predicting the future of the icy continent.

At 14:00 it's time for Education and Outreach session (EOS1.8) Telling climate stories: platforms, tools, and methodologies for accurate and engaging science communication.

Scientists, communicators, citizens, and the media: public awareness of climate change calls for interdisciplinary collaboration to create clear and cohesive narratives to reach a wide and diverse audience and create a real impact. Climate change narratives can take different paths and focus on different perspectives, professions, sectors, and the audience addressed. The role of trust is also pivotal, as different publics are likely to reject information, regardless of its accuracy, if the message doesn’t resonate with an individuals' personal experiences. [...] This session is also designed to host a space of dialogue among researchers, fact-checkers, and communications experts to assess how disinformation affects science credibility and society and present tools to tackle it, enhancing the quality of information with a positive effect on public trust in science and resilience.

My slot to present Resources to give facts a fighting chance against misinformation is from 16:50 to 17:00 with 8 minutes alloted for the presentation itself. I'll briefly introduce participants to Skeptical Science, mention our rebuttals updates factory and quick debunking of "Climate the Movie" before mentioning the Debunking Handbook, the Conspiracy Theory handbook, the FLICC taxonomy of science denial techniques and how to learn about them with the help of the Cranky Uncle game. Sounds like a lot? Yes, but it all fits within the 8 minutes, if only barely! You can take a "sneak peek" at my presentation here.

EGU24 EOS1.8 Fighting Chance


Wednesday will be a rather interesting day for me. It starts at 8:30 with Union Symposia (US6) Misunderstanding or malice? Getting to the bottom of geoscience disinformation and much to my surprise I was invited to be one of the panelists for this almost 2 hour long session. This will obviously be a first for me, so I'm still not quite sure what I'm getting myself into with agreeing to being on the panel. However, given that the conveners are well aware of my background, I'll be able to talk about the "stuff" I'm familiar with, including at least some of the items mentioned in the presentation for EOS1.8 or other comparable presentation I already did at EGU and/or elserwhere. This Union Symposia is convended by Flora Maria Brocza with Chloe Hill, Viktor J. Bruckman, Kirsten v. Elverfeldt and Christina West as co-conveners. Apart from myself, the confirmed speakers for the session are Vita Crivello (Science-Policy & Science Communication expert), Gaura Naithani (Project Manager & Researcher, European Journalism Centre) and Simon Clark (Science communicator & author).

The spread of false and misleading information can erode trust in public institutions, governments, and the scientific community. It fosters polarisation, disrupts informed decision-making, obstructs constructive dialogue, and subsequently poses a threat to social cohesion and democracy. As researchers, we stand in the eye of the storm. As professional “knowledge generators”, we produce and evaluate facts and should be well-equipped to debunk information we read elsewhere. At the same time, we may not be as well equipped as we think and our research may be taken out of context, with single facts inserted into a wider misleading narrative.

During this Union Symposium, an expert panel will outline what mis- and disinformation is, how it is created and spread in the digital age, why false experts gain traction and how they intentionally misrepresent scientific research, and how the dissemination of doubt and denial can undermine public trust, influence policy decisions, and impact society as a whole. The session will also discuss the role and responsibility of the scientific community in managing and preventing the spread of misinformation as well as the other tools that exist to deal with it.

In the afternoon, I plan to join the closely related short course (SC2.10) From Misunderstanding to Malice: Countering Mis- and Disinformation. The course is convenced by Kirsten v. Elverfeldt with Flora Maria Brocza, Maida Salkanovic, Chloe Hill and Simon Clark as co-conveners.

The research we conduct doesn’t fall into a vacuum. Once published, it enters a large information ecosystem, where we hope that our findings will resonate. As researchers, we devote our whole careers to the study of a narrow field of knowledge. This devotion is not shared by other players in this ecosystem who engage with our research, which might lead to misunderstandings and thus unintentional misinformation. Even others in the ecosystem intentionally seek to spread false information or foster ideologically driven disinformation campaigns. Thus, the players in the ecosystem range from fellow scientists from the same or other disciplines, journalists, politicians, social media influencers, the general public, to troll farms. Clearly, not all of them have or seek an in-depth understanding of the scientific context in which a particular piece of information slots into, and some merely seek to generate attention or outrage with their writing.

Many scientists feel somewhat uneasy in this ecosystem - lacking the tools to engage meaningfully. For example, when talking to journalists, information on the uncertainty of data may not be conveyed for the sake of clear and easy-to-follow storylines. Facts may be simplified or even misrepresented, which might lead to a certain reluctance of scientists to talk to journalists. However, especially this type of direct science-media-interaction is crucial for the debunking of mis- and disinformation.

In the late afternoon - starting at 16:15 - I tentatively plan to join the first part of Education and Outreach session (EOS1.1) Science and Society: Science Communication Practice, Research, and Reflection. Based on previous years' experiences, I'm expecting to learn about several interesting projects related to science communication in this session convended by Solmaz Mohadjer and Roberta Bellini, Francesco Avanzi, Usha Harris and Maria Vittoria Gargiulo as co-conveners.

Science communication includes the efforts of natural, physical and social scientists, communications professionals, and teams that communicate the process and values of science and scientific findings to non-specialist audiences outside of formal educational settings. The goals of science communication can include enhanced dialogue, understanding, awareness, enthusiasm, improving decision making, or influencing behaviors. Channels can include in-person interaction, online, social media, mass media, or other methods. This session invites presentations by individuals and teams on science communication practice, research, and reflection, addressing questions like: What kind of communication efforts are you engaging in and how you are doing it? How is social science informing understandings of audiences, strategies, or effects? What are lessons learned from long-term communication efforts?

 EGU24 - EOS1.! list of abstracts


While putting together my itinerary it looked as if Thursday morning would be an empty slot, but only until I realized that session EOS1.1 had 3 timeslots all told, with two of them happening on Thursday morning starting at 8:30! So, the same description as above applies for Education and Outreach session (EOS1.1) Science and Society: Science Communication Practice, Research, and Reflection. To see the list of presentations click here for part 2 and here for part 3.

In the afternoon it's time for short course (SC3.2) Elevate your Pitch: Developing Engaging Short Scientific Presentations. Perhaps this will also contain some helpful tips for non-scientific presentations which based on the learning objectives of this short course could well be the case:

The final session for me on Thursday will most likely be Education and Outreach session (EOS4.1) Science Policy Interface: Shaping Debates and building bridges. I picked this for two reasons: it's another repeat for me and earlier sessions were interesting. And, it's a session in the fun - if somewhat hectic - PICO format, with a whirlwiind of 2-minute long pitches followed by longer discussions with abstract authors at their onsite or virtual screens. The session is convened by Marie Heidenreich with Susann Birnstengel, Giorgia StasiECS, Chloe Hill and Maria Vittoria Gargiulo as co-conveners.

Scientific knowledge is crucial for shaping policies related to climate, environment, sustainability, and resources. To have an impact on politics, research needs to communicate in a way that addresses needs and offers solutions. However, it is important to identify the most effective science policy formats that can contribute to enriching political debates. While there are now many resources available to scientists who would like to engage in the policymaking process, finding specific information or practical examples that relate to a specific discipline or field of research can be challenging.

This session aims to bridge that gap by highlighting success stories from scientists who have engaged in policy and made critical societal impacts – either on a European, national, or local level – across different scientific disciplines and science officers who have facilitated successful science-policy-dialogues. It will also aim to examine the various challenges that researchers face when engaging on the science-policy interface and various strategies that others have taken to manage and overcome them.

EGU23 PICO Spot example


Right now, it looks like I might have a "late start" to the day on Friday (unless I hang out in!) with a Great Debate (GDB8) about Artificial Intelligence in scientific publishing: blessing or bane? This may or may not be of interest for me, so I'll take a look and then decide if I watch it or not. 

The rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, including Large Language Models (LLM), presents both challenges and opportunities for scientific publishing. How can we use these tools responsibly and effectively?

The discussion will explore several aspects of the topic, including:

In the afternoon Great Debate (GDB6) If informing is not enough, how should scientists engage to accelerate the social transformation required by climate change and biodiversity collapse? will most likely be my last session for this year's EGU conference.

Numerous geoscientists are producing and disseminating knowledge about climate change and contemporary environmental degradation to increasingly wider audiences, from civil society to policymakers. This knowledge is notably gathered in alarming reports by scientific institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and it indicates that rapid and radical transformations of our societies are simply vital.

Still, ongoing efforts to trigger such transformations, whether by political, economic, or civil society stakeholders, often fall short of the urgent actions recommended. It has increasingly been suggested that putting most efforts into ever-improving knowledge and communication is a strategy that can only address part of the obvious gap between Science and the required societal change (see review articles by Stoddard et al., 2021 and Oreskes, 2022).


As you can see, I'm planning for quite a busy week and will most likely not be twiddling my thumbs much! In addition to attending the sessions above, I also plan to offer a few Networking Pop-Up Events to talk about our resources and Cranky Uncle if people take me up on the offer. This year, these events can be scheduled to happen somewhere in so that should bef fun to try out!

Like in previous years, I intend to write up my take on the sessions attended and also keep an eye on how well things work in this fully hybrid conference format. We'll then see how much of the week goes as planned!

EGU24 Calendar

Posted by BaerbelW on Wednesday, 10 April, 2024

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