Thursday, April 26, 2007

European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna

I am now back from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna. According to the conference organizers, there were 7844 participants, 420 sessions, 4186 oral presentations, and 6702 posters. Needless to say, a meeting this size is typically a disappointment because you can never get to see everything you want to see because of overlapping sessions. Indeed, there were many times that I was wanting to be in two or three locations at the same time. Then, there were times where you just sat around waiting for a good session to happen. (Actually, these times were usually taken up by checking email by the very slow wireless connection that was free for all attendees or by chatting with colleagues.)

I did attend some really well-presented and interesting sessions, especially the Dynamical Meteorology session organized by Conny Schwierz and the session on communicating natural hazards. I was even surprised by a nice session on gravity waves late on Friday afternoon.

I didn't attend the session, but there was a debate about the use of artificial (man-made) snow in ski resorts. Here is the snippet published in the daily newsletter about the conference.

"Artificial snow destroys mountain diversity and it reduces the drinking water availability. Moreover, it will take the mountains hundreds of years to recover from the damage caused by ski areas," Prof. Carmen de Jong said during a press conference yesterday. Tourism companies in the Alps produce artificial snow, because natural snow cover has decreased over the the past decades as a result of climate change. De Jong states that we must change our type of sports and adapt ourselves to the hydrological changes in the Alps. Furthermore, she is warning for environmental disasters on the long term caused by artifical snow. More research on this subject is needed."

The conference ended late on Friday, afterwhich I changed hotels and started my vacation.


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