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Flags outside the ACV during the EGU General Assembly (Credit: Ana Sousa)

Press release General Assembly 2012 Media Advisory 3 – Full press conference schedule, online registration closing tomorrow

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European Geosciences Union

General Assembly 2012 Media Advisory 3 – Full press conference schedule, online registration closing tomorrow

28 March 2012

The schedule of press conferences at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), including summaries and list of participants, is now available. Journalists interested in attending should register online by tomorrow. Those not in Vienna during the Assembly can watch press conferences live via webstreaming. The EGU General Assembly is a meeting with over 10,000 scientists that covers all disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences.

Message Contents

Press conference schedule

Press conferences at the EGU General Assembly will be held at the press centre located on the Yellow Level (Ground Floor) of the Austria Center Vienna. Times for press conferences are Central European Summer Time.

Tuesday, 24 April, 10h00

It is increasingly clear that environmental phenomena, such as weather patterns or the movement of dust particles in the atmosphere, have direct impact on the health of human populations. By designing complex climate models, researchers are able to predict and likely avoid outbreaks of potentially fatal diseases, such as malaria or dengue fever. Another team used various geophysical data to derive the behaviour of floating radioactive dust particles emitted from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, providing vital environmental data for minimising the risk of radiation exposure in local communities. In the Middle East, other researchers examined the composition of naturally occurring dust and sandstorms, showing they constitute a significant health risk to native inhabitants and Western troops. These interdisciplinary studies are vital as we seek to understand the extent by which the well-being of humanity depends on its rapidly changing environment.

Masatoshi Yamauchi
Senior Scientist, Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), Kiruna, Sweden
Mark Lyles
Chair of Health and Security Studies, US Naval War College, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Newport, Rhode Island, USA
Rachel Lowe
Postdoctoral Scientist, Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences (IC3), Barcelona, Spain
Adrian Tompkins
Research Scientist, Earth System Physics, Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy

Related scientific sessions: CL2.5, NH8.3, SM3.1/AS4.20

Tuesday, 24 April, 11h00

It is a paradox of human history that many of the most prosperous civilisations have developed in fertile areas prone to flooding. As a consequence, devastating floods have caused socioeconomic and environmental damage to humanity ever since the very earliest recorded civilisations, including in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Recent interdisciplinary research integrates demographic data on population change with the hydrological sciences, showing that the growth of the human population greatly exacerbates the severity of flood disasters. Other work examines the prospect of developing more efficient flood forecasting systems. Taken together, these researchers look to develop mitigation models of hydrological risk that could save both money and lives as the Earth’s population continues its predicted 21st century growth.

Giuliano Di Baldassarre
Senior Lecturer, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands
Peter Burek
Researcher, European Commission, Joint Research Center, Water Resources Unit, Ispra, Italy

Related scientific sessions: HS2.6, HS4.3/AS1.18/NH1.2

Tuesday, 24 April, 14h15

Climate change and the demand to reduce society’s dependence on fossil fuels, has motivated scientists and policy makers alike to find sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases. In a press conference chaired by Hermann Held, the participants will answer questions on renewable energy and CO2 storage as options to tackle this global challenge. Gerhard Glatzel and Adele Manzella will address queries on biofuels, and deep geothermal resources and energy, respectively. The president of the EGU division on Energy, Resources and the Environment, Michael Kühn, will focus on CO2 storage as a possible solution to minimise climate change.

Gerhard Glatzel
Emeritus Professor, Commission for Interdisciplinary Ecological Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Adele Manzella
Researcher, Institute for Geosciences and Earth Resources, National Research Council (CNR), Pisa, Italy
Michael Kühn
Head of Centre for CO2 Storage, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam, Germany
Hermann Held (Chair)
Chair Sustainability & Global Change, Center for Earth Systems Research and Sustainability, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Related scientific session: ERE1.1

Wednesday, 25 April, 10h00

In March 2011, the devastating Tohoku earthquake struck off the northeastern shore of Honshu, Japan. In spring 2012, two expeditions have been organised to uncover the traces that the earthquake left behind at the seafloor, and to better understand the very large fault slip that occurred in the shallow part of the subduction zone, respectively. From March 8 to April 6, German and Japanese scientists are investigating the area of the epicenter on board the German research vessel SONNE. From April 1 to May 24, the Japanese drilling vessel CHIKYU is operating in the area of the Japan Trench to drill into the fault zone in ultra-deep water (about 7,000m). This mission is conducted in the framework of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, IODP. During the media conference, scientists will present the first results from the SONNE expedition, and report programme updates and plans on CHIKYU drilling operations.

Gerold Wefer
Professor, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany and Chief Scientist RV SONNE
Michael Strasser
Assistant Professor, Geological Institute, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland and member of the RV SONNE expedition
Kiyoshi Suyehiro
President and CEO, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, Management International Inc., Tokyo, Japan
Albert Gerdes (Chair)
Press and Public Relations, MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany

Related scientific sessions: CL1.3, CL5.11, GM8.4/OS3.6/TS4.10, TM4

Wednesday, 25 April, 11h00

Global sea level is rising as glaciers and ice sheets melt as a result of Earth’s warming climate. Using detailed historical data sets from a representative sample of glaciers and ice caps worldwide, researchers estimated the predicted loss in global ice mass based on recent climate data. Likewise, an EU-funded ice2sea study used a three-dimensional Greenland ice sheet model to project sea level rise over the next century. Related research, also in the ice2sea framework, monitored the speed of glacier flow and the dynamics of iceberg calving in Svalbard, predicting their potential contribution to sea level rise. By increasing the risk of flooding and even threatening to entirely eliminate low-lying island nations, rising sea levels are set to have a widespread and potentially fatal impact on human communities worldwide.

Sebastian H. Mernild
Research Scientist, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA
Philippe Huybrechts
Professor, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium & ice2sea programme
Jon Ove Hagen
Professor, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway & ice2sea programme

Related scientific sessions: CR1.40/CL2.11, CR5.10

Wednesday, 25 April, 12h00

Estimates indicate that, in regions above latitude 50°N, permafrost soil holds about twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. As temperatures increase, permafrost degrades, releasing part of its stored carbon to the atmosphere as CO2 or methane, further increasing global warming. However, the recovery of ecosystems after permafrost thaw has mostly been neglected in assessing soils’ greenhouse gas emissions. New research indicates that this factor may indeed counteract carbon loss in areas of northeastern Siberia. In Europe, another team has been inspired by the potential of Amazonian ‘terra preta’, a carbon-rich soil altered by human activity, to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Terra preta’s properties are due to its large amounts of biochar – organic matter produced under conditions of intense heat. Scientists are now interested in adding biochar to other types of soil to enhance their quality and ability to sequester carbon.

Ko van Huissteden
Associate Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Vrije University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Jorge Paz-Ferreiro
Researcher, Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), Madrid, Spain

Related scientific sessions: BG7.1, SSS1.1

Wednesday, 25 April, 15h00

The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan highlighted the need to further improve the efficiency and accuracy of local tsunami warning systems. Effective tsunami alerts must be issued as early as 5 to 10 minutes after an earthquake but, within this time limit, current seismic methods tend to underestimate the magnitude of an earthquake, and the size of the resulting giant wave. Recent research shows that we are working towards faster and more reliable tsunami early warning systems but many challenges persist in communicating and managing crises as they happen.

Anthony Lomax
Independent Seismological and Software Consultant, Mouans-Sartoux, France
Andrey Babeyko
Researcher, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Potsdam, Germany
Jürgen Moßgraber
Researcher, Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation, Karlsruhe, Germany

Related scientific sessions: NH5.1, NH5.7/ESSI1.7

Wednesday, 25 April, 16h00

NASA’s Dawn mission recently revealed a diversity of geologic features and unexpected details on the surface of Vesta, providing clues on the history of this giant asteroid and on the beginning of the Solar System. The spacecraft is now in its closest orbit around Vesta, the low-altitude mapping orbit. In this late-April press conference, researchers will present the results of the low-altitude phase of science observations, including new high-resolution data from the Italian Visible and Infrared Spectrometer and the German Framing Camera. The panel will discuss, for the first time, the findings from these instruments and will also present results on the relation between gravity and topography for Vesta.

Maria Cristina De Sanctis
Dawn Mission Co-investigator, Leader of Visible and Infrared Spectrometer, National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), Rome, Italy
Harald Hiesinger
Dawn Mission Participating Scientist, University of Münster, Münster, Germany
Carol Raymond
Dawn Deputy Principal Investigator, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA

Related scientific session: PS4.2

Thursday, 26 April, 09h00

The dynamic environmental conditions in space, more commonly known as space weather, may have important consequences on our dependence on satellite technology (e.g. satellite communications and global navigation satellite systems), health and safety of astronauts, as well as on the potential habitability of other planets within and beyond the Solar System. Geomagnetic storms, ionospheric disturbances, solar energetic particle events are some of the phenomena that can have unwanted effects on technical and biological systems. In an attempt to increase their understanding of the dynamic space environment, researchers are developing near real-time tracking strategies that provide timely updates on changing space weather patterns. Together, this important and growing body of work reflects the increasing awareness that monitoring and mitigating against space weather is vital for modern society and life across the planet and, in future, on humans as they continue to venture into the uncharted regions of space.

Norma Crosby
Research Scientist, Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, Belgium
Andrzej Krankowski
Associate Professor, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Olsztyn, Poland
Manuel Grande
Professor, Aberystwyth University, Penglais, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales, UK

Related scientific sessions: ST5.1/NH1.10/PS5.5

Thursday, 26 April, 10h00

Is Earth alone in the Solar System in its ability to harbour life? Recent work has identified Jupiter’s system as comprising potentially habitable worlds, including on one of its moons, Europa, which contains ‘shallow lakes’ and other physical features analogous to areas on Earth, in addition to its global ocean. In fact, a mission to the Jupiter system, which will characterise the conditions that may have led to the emergence of habitable environments among the Jovian icy satellites, is under study. It pays special emphasis on the three ocean-bearing worlds, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto. Another team has found that some microorganisms on Earth may be able to survive in the harsh conditions of open space or possibly even in environments similar to the Martian surface. In the Saturn system, evidence is mounting for a liquid water ocean in the deep interior of Titan, in addition to its surface seas of liquid methane and ethane. Coupled with additional discoveries by the Cassini spacecraft, which strengthen the case for liquid water in Saturn’s moon Enceladus, the argument for life elsewhere in the Solar System seems all the more compelling.

Jean-Pierre Paul de Vera
Researcher, German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany
Britney Schmidt
Research Scientist, Dawn Mission Science Team EPO Liaison, Institute for Geophysics, University of Texas
Michele Dougherty
Professor of Space Physics, Imperial College London, London, UK and Science Lead on the Study Team for ESA’s JUICE mission
Jonathan Lunine
Professor, Space Sciences Building, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

Related scientific sessions: PS3.1, PS3.3, PS8.1

Thursday, 26 April, 13h00

How much will the planet warm over the coming century? Recent estimates still differ by a few degrees, and depend on what is referred to as the climate sensitivity – the increase in global average temperature following a doubling of CO2 concentration, likely to be between 2 and 4.5°C. While low sensitivity is good news, a value at the high end of this range would mean considerable warming, even from modest increases in CO2. Hence, to understand climate change, researchers must tackle the problem of climate sensitivity. Why don’t we have a definite value for this parameter? And how can we better estimate it? Three world-renowned climate scientists will address this and other questions in this press conference.

Michael E. Mann
Director of the Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, USA
Michael Ghil
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), California, USA and Distinguished Professor of Geosciences, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
James E. Hansen
Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York, USA

Related scientific sessions: ML1, ML7, NP2.4/CL5.5

Thursday, 26 April, 14h00

Non-energy raw materials are vital to modern technology and profoundly important in the context of the world economy. However, their natural distribution is limited, meaning that certain countries, such as the EU Member States, are by default dependent on acquiring them through imports. In response to Europe’s disproportionately low natural production of these critical substances, the European network (ERA-NET) on non-energy raw materials provides a framework for EU countries to communicate, coordinate, and plan for predicted shortages. General concerns for every mining development are water, energy, and the social acceptance of this activity, factors required to ensure the continued acquisition of these rare materials. Researchers recognise the crucial importance of rare metals for the development of low-carbon energy technologies, have identified the most critical elements, and are formulating strategies for dealing with their potentially reduced supply. The panel includes experts from research and government organizations, and the Q&A session will be chaired by Nicholas Arndt, president of the EGU division on Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology & Volcanology.

Olivier Vidal
Researcher, Institute of Earth Sciences (ISTerre), University of Grenoble, Grenoble, France
Friedrich-W. Wellmer
Chair Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, LE STUDIUM Institute for Advanced Studies, Orleans, France (retired president of the German Geological Survey and the German Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources)
Richard Herrington
Professor, Department of Mineralogy, The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom
Nick Arndt (Chair)
Professor, Institute of Earth Sciences (ISTerre), Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France

Related scientific session: GMPV1.4/ERE3.5

Note that the list above is subject to change. Please check the press conference page, or the information panels at the Vienna press centre, for the most up-to-date information.


If you can not make it to Vienna in April, you can still watch EGU press conferences live via webstream. You may also ask questions using Skype.

For full instructions on how to access press conferences remotely please check the Webstreaming page at the EGU media page.

Meeting programme

All sessions (over 700) and abstracts (over 14,000) are now available from the EGU 2012 website and fully searchable. You can access the programme here.

Media participants to the conference may use the meeting programme to search for abstracts or sessions they find particularly interesting. The programme is searchable by name of a scientist, keywords (e.g., volcano, Fukushima, Mars), session topic (e.g., Solar-Terrestrial Sciences, Natural Hazards), and other parameters. You may also select single contributions or complete sessions from the meeting programme to generate your personal programme.

Great Debates

Journalists attending the General Assembly may also be interested in the Great Debates taking place at the Austria Center Vienna.

Wednesday, 25 April, 13h30–15h00

Traditional publishing models require that individuals or institutions pay publishing houses for access to peer-reviewed scientific journals. This business model has recently come under scrutiny by proponents of Open Access, where authors pay to publish in peer-reviewed journals and content is subsequently free to the user. Open Access activists argue that the activities of traditional publishing houses, specifically the services they provide to the scientific community, do not justify the magnitude of revenues obtained. Furthermore, Open Access proponents oppose the traditional business model on moral grounds, claiming it is wrong to withhold access to research that could potentially improve or save lives. Established publishers, on the other hand, argue that there are real costs to them in providing high-quality publications and services, and that they support the principle of access for all but sustainable approaches are needed to provide this access so that high-quality publications continue to be sustainable. Recently, several leading academics have spoken out, even staging a boycott of selected publishers. Open Access continues to be hotly debated within the scientific community, in the media, and by the wider public. The aim of this debate is to critically examine the available publishing models and to explore the potential impact of Open Access on the future of scientific publishing.

Rhodri Jackson
Senior Publisher, Oxford University Press
Angelika Lex
Vice President Academic and Government Relations, Elsevier
Damian Pattinson
Executive Editor, PLoS ONE
Erik Merkel-Sobotta
Executive Vice President Corporate Communications, Springer Science+Business Media
Caroline Sutton
President, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA)
Edvard Glücksman (Chair)
Science Communications Fellow, European Geosciences Union

Thursday, 26 April, 12h15–13h15

Geoscientists are specialists that deliver their research results to different authorities and levels in the society in order to inform about the current status of knowledge on geoprocesses and the possibilities to use this knowledge. This is of growing interest, and with respect to natural hazards especially for large events like earthquakes or floods. Thereby, scientists and recipients of the information are faced with a variety of responsibilities. These concern, amongst others (1) the basic science (development of accurate physics-based or statistical methodologies to forecast a phenomenon and probabilities), (2) the dissemination of scientific results to the public (websites, webportals, scientific documentation, outreach activities, etc.), and (3) the awareness of policy and decision makers in receiving this information (and translating it with appropriate tools to a better preparedness of the society).

Some of the questions to answer are: Are geoscientists able to predict ‘precisely’ when and where the next natural disaster will occur and how big will it be? And if not, what is their role in the prevention and mitigation of disasters? And if, on the other hand, predictions made by geoscientists are ‘not precise’ what is their usefulness for the society? What are the uncertainties involved in the prediction? How do the geoscientists understand, handle, quantify these uncertainties, and how are they communicated and understood by the society?

The aim of this debate is to bring together specialists from different disciplines and policy makers to discuss with the audience the problems and key issues of liability and responsibility arising by the release of authoritative information.

Massimo Cocco
Seismologist, National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), Italy
Peter Billing
Responsible of the European Civil Protection system, European Commission
Gero Michel
Head of Willis Research Network, Willis RE (Global reinsurance broker), UK

Media registration

Members of the media and public information officers are invited to register online (free of charge) at the Registration page of the Media at General Assembly website. The online list of journalist and PIOs who have registered already is available here.

Online (pre-)registration will be available until Thursday 29 March. The advance registration assures that your badge will be waiting for you on your arrival to the Austria Center Vienna, giving you access to the press centre and other meeting rooms. You may also register on-site during the meeting.

Further information about media services at the General Assembly is available from

For information on accommodation and travel, please refer to the appropriate sections of the 2012 EGU General Assembly website.

More information

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is Europe’s premier geosciences union, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the Earth, planetary, and space sciences for the benefit of humanity, worldwide. It is a non-profit interdisciplinary learned association of scientists founded in 2002. The EGU has a current portfolio of 14 diverse scientific journals, which use an innovative open-access format, and organises a number of topical meetings, and education and outreach activities. Its annual General Assembly is the largest and most prominent European geosciences event, attracting over 10,000 scientists from all over the world. The meeting’s sessions cover a wide range of topics, including volcanology, planetary exploration, the Earth’s internal structure and atmosphere, climate change, and renewable energies.


Bárbara T. Ferreira
EGU Media and Communications Officer
Munich, Germany
Phone +49-89-2180-6703


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