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Press conferences

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List of press conferences

PC1 – Latest results from the Curiosity Mars Rover

Monday, 08 April, 11:00–12:00 (Stream)

NASA’s Curiosity rover is eight months into its 2-year exploration of Mars. Equipped with an abundance of research gear, Curiosity has told us a great deal about the surface of Mars since its arrival in Gale Crater. The rover is capable of gathering samples, analysing them on board and sending the results back to us via radio transmission. During its mission, Curiosity will explore a greater range than any other Mars rover in an attempt to determine if there are, or ever were, suitable conditions for life on the planet. In this briefing, representatives from Curiosity’s instrument teams and the project scientist will present the latest mission results, from the Red Planet’s surface geology and soil properties to the composition of the Martian atmosphere.

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Related scientific sessions: US2, PS2.5

PC2 – Impacts of climate change

Monday, 08 April, 16:00–17:00 (Stream)

In 2011, losses from thunderstorms in the US were on par with the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, totalling 47 billion US dollars. Changes in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events is an almost certain consequence of climate change; with losses of this scale, what implications does this have for people and the economy? New research suggests that climate change will make the atmosphere more turbulent, causing flights to become bumpier. What implications does this have in terms of the financial cost to airlines, the increased risk of injuries to passengers, and flight delays? This session takes a look at some of the more unexpected impacts of climate change, from changes to atmospheric air flow to thunderstorm frequency.

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Related scientific sessions: CL3.1, NH1.1

PC3 – Consequences of nuclear accidents: Fukushima and Europe

Tuesday, 09 April, 12:00–13:00 (Stream)

What are the consequences of severe nuclear accidents? The Chernobyl disaster had numerous repercussions across Europe, as radionuclide fallout migrated throughout the environment, penetrating soils and infiltrating rivers. Failure at Fukushima, whilst on a smaller scale, led to many nuclear policy rethinks world-wide. How were radionuclides spread throughout the environment after the accident and how far did they go? What can be done to remediate affected areas? This briefing takes a look at the fate of radionuclides after a nuclear accident and how they are transferred between the atmosphere, sediment and water supply, as well as addressing nuclear-disaster preparedness.

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Related scientific sessions: GI1.4/SSS6.11

PC4 – The Russian meteor and near-Earth objects

Tuesday, 09 April, 14:00–15:00 (Stream)

On 15 February this year, a meteor exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia injuring more than a thousand people. With a diameter of 17 metres and a mass of some 10,000 tons, the meteor was the largest to enter the Earth’s atmosphere in over a century; yet, Chelyabinsk residents had no warning of the explosion and subsequent impact of the rock’s fragments. On the other hand, the asteroid, 2012 DA14, that flew-by our planet later on that same day – unrelated to the Russian meteor – was detected over a year in advance and monitored closely. This briefing brings together two planetary-impacts researchers and two atmospheric-monitoring experts who will be able to answer questions on the Russian meteor explosion and detection and monitoring of near-Earth objects, as well as queries related to impact cratering on Earth.

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Related scientific sessions: AS4.3/GI2.9, PS2.7

PC5 – Can we undo climate warming?

Wednesday, 10 April, 10:00–11:00 (Stream)

In an increasingly warmer world, how can we limit the increase in global average temperature to 2°C? The removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has been suggested as a potential solution, but will it be able to restore a pre-industrial climate without additional measures? Switching to renewable power sources and using energy efficient products present additional solutions, but the costs of implementation and low efficiency of some technologies restrict their uptake. Are the limitations of available technology preventing us from making further progress, or are there other social and political factors holding us back? This press conference will address these issues, focusing on the uncertainties and costs of mitigating climate change.

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Related scientific sessions: AS3.8, BG2.11, ERE1.1

PC6 – Thunderstorms and terrestrial gamma-ray flashes

Wednesday, 10 April, 11:00–12:00 (Stream)

In addition to the familiar cloud-to-ground lightning, thunderstorm clouds can produce upward cloud-to-air lightning. In the past decade or so, researchers have also observed gigantic jets, bursts of up to 70 km in length of upward lightning connecting storm clouds to the upper atmosphere. Scientists do not yet understand how these jets work, and whether or not they are related to another energetic phenomenon: terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. These are intense bursts of energetic gamma-rays that originate from thunderclouds at altitudes where commercial aircraft fly, meaning they may potentially pose a radiation hazard to individuals and electronic equipment in airplanes. In this press conference, researchers will share new observations of lightning events emerging from the top of storm clouds and new results on terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, focusing on radiation doses and possible effects on people and avionics from these gamma-ray bursts.

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Related scientific sessions: AS4.8/NH1.5, NH1.4

PC7 – Climate, water, soils: how do they affect human health?

Wednesday, 10 April, 12:00–13:00 (Stream)

The ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti, the worst outbreak of the disease in recent years with a death toll of 8,000 to date, resulted from the exposure to pathogens in a contaminated river. In the US, a fungal meningitis outbreak in late 2012 with some 500 documented cases was linked to a fungus found in soil. The impact of water, climate and soils on human health is evident, with changes in humidity, temperature, soil processes and other environmental variables influencing disease outbreaks from meningitis to influenza and impacting food safety and air quality. The panel will present new results in modelling environmental conditions and disease outbreaks, and address the role of geoscientists in developing ways to combat human health challenges in a changing climate.

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Related scientific sessions: HS7.3/CL2.12/NP1.4, SSS7.2/AS4.15/BG2.20/CL2.8/NH8.4

PC8 – Disaster risk management

Wednesday, 10 April, 14:00–15:00 (Stream)

The toll from natural disasters, such as floods, landslides, cyclones, earthquakes, and tsunamis is increasing, as populations rise and more assets are at risk. At the same time climate change is changing the frequency and intensity of climate-related events. While researchers cannot predict the precise location and timing of disastrous events, they can estimate the risk of such events. IIASA researchers and collaborators around the world are working towards a global disaster risk model, which can be used as a basis to reduce and manage risk. The model, which is based on novel modelling techniques, involves understanding factors that influence how people and communities cope with events, and how countries prepare for the financial and human impacts of disaster. This new research, which will be addressed in this media briefing, is helping to identify which advance actions pay off, and how countries and local governments can make smart investment decisions that lead to fewer deaths and less destruction.

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Related scientific sessions: NH9.3, NH9.9, NH9.13

PC9 – Precursors: the search for alternative earthquake prediction methods

Thursday, 11 April, 11:00–12:00 (Stream)

A straightforward strategy to earthquake prediction consists in finding a precursor, an observable signal that can give effective warning of an impending tremor several hours or days before the event. Proposed precursor signals have included radon gas emission, ground deformation and unusual animal behaviour. A 2011 report from the International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting for Civil Protection analysed various precursor candidates and concluded that none of them offered a reliable prediction method and that there was much room for improvement in this research area. What advances have been made since then? This press conference will focus on recent research in earthquake prediction. The panellists will present results on precursor candidates such as ground-altitude variations, changes in the upper atmosphere and behavioural changes of red wood ants prior to earthquakes.

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Related scientific sessions: SM3.2, NH4.5/SM4.8

PC10 – Air quality and urban air pollution

Thursday, 11 April, 12:15–13:15 (Stream)

Poor air quality is known to have deleterious impacts on human health. With a high proportion of Europeans living in large, and often highly polluted cities, we need to know what the impacts of air pollution on human health are and how can we mitigate them. Many policies designed to alleviate the effects of climate change will also have a bearing on air quality and models of pollutant emissions can be used to inform policymakers about the effectiveness of current mitigation measures. This conference focuses on the impact of policies on pollution concentrations, the major sources of air-borne pollutants in Europe and what the costs of these pollutants are for both human health and the economy.

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Related scientific sessions: AS3.14, AS3.7