A PhD student’s overview of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2016

By David Flack

Last week (18 – 22 April) 13,650 scientists from 109 countries descended upon Vienna for the European Geosciences Union (EGU) general assembly. This includes a range of different disciplines, not just those associated with meteorology and hydrology, and amongst these were a large number of scientists from the UK (around 1,300). As a member of the Flooding From Intense Rainfall (FFIR) project I was obviously very interested in a lot of the work associated with precipitation and flash flooding, hence the angle of this blog. In this blog I’m going to try to give a brief overview of what EGU is like (from a PhD student’s point of view) and highlight some of the interesting topics among the hydro-meteorology community at EGU.

Indeed for the FFIR team, EGU started first thing on Monday with Matt Perks (Newcastle University) being schdeuled as one of the first talks of the conference. His talk was a summary of his recent work looking at unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and their use for taking observations whilst floods are occurring, and how this can be used in modelling the water flow in flash flooding situations. Other highlights from the morning session included a talk from the ECMWF (European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting) on a global flash flooding forecast system that they are developing and the links with high-resolution weather forecasts that are able to improve representation of heavy rain

Then after a range of other talks was a poster session in the evening in which Adrian Champion (a member of the Meteorology department here at Reading) was presenting his work on atmospheric precursors to flash flooding amongst various other interesting posters.

One thing that I started to notice, as a PhD student at my first international conference, was the size. There are so many interesting posters and presentations that you can’t get to all the ones or find all the people that you wanted to speak to. However, that size isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows you to meet a range of people presenting.

Another good aspect about EGU is the location in Vienna, you are never too far from the city centre via the underground, so you were able to go out in the city centre in the evening and look at the wonderful architecture and experience the Viennese culture (see below).

2016 04 29 David Flack Fig 1 Vienna - IMG_2143 (972 x 648)

Throughout the week there were lots of talks and posters on precipitation including talking about how intense rainfall would vary with climate change in terms of frequency and intensity and hence the impact for flash flooding. Also interesting from my point of view were the various talks on modelling precipitation and the different ways of measuring them and the advances in satellite technology.

I had a couple of posters at EGU presenting my previous work looking at convective regimes in the UK and my current work on uncertainty in models with these regimes. Many people were interested which is always useful when presenting material at a conference. The poster sessions for me were the most useful as you were able to interact with many different people and make useful contacts and collaboration ideas for the future.

For my first time at an international conference I thought the range of disciplines and size of the conference would put me off, but having attended I found the complete reverse happening and would definitely go back again.

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