1 November 2017

Just Over the Horizon: Fall Meeting 2017

Posted by Joshua Speiser

By Denis-Didier Rousseau, AGU Fall Meeting Chair, Senior Research Scientist at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

It is my pleasure to introduce some highlights of the 2017 Fall Meeting. This year, our revised program structure will ensure the presentation of exciting new research and encourage even more interactive discussions. Conveners were offered a variety of presentation formats to ensure the best possible fit of their session topic to the appropriate scientific audience. Beside the traditional 15-minute oral presentations, this year conveners were given the opportunity to take advantage of alternate session formats including panel discussions, experimental eLightning presentations, and new digital interactive non-paper poster presentation. And, to continue the scientific discussions developed during the sessions in a more friendly environment, the successful “pods” introduced last year will be more numerous and accessible.

One of the most innovative changes in this year’s program structure is the introduction of the scientific neighborhoods, an idea that grew out of the desire to allow presentations to be organized in a more dynamic fashion. Thus, section and focus groups will now be grouped under the following categories: Earth Interior, Earth Covering, Beyond Earth, and Science Nexus. In doing so, attendees will be better able to navigate the various evolving scientific fields in a way that facilitates contacts and exchanges amongst scientific disciplines. Meeting staff have ensured that new maps will be available to allow attendees to quickly orient themselves to the New Orleans Convention Center. This shift also allows us to reassess and efficiently assign oral presentations to the most appropriate locations in this new environment.

Our three key note lectures feature outstanding speakers – veteran journalist Dan Rather, U.S. National Academy of Science’s Dr. Vaughan Turekian, and Professor of Geophysics at Imperial College London Dr. Joanna Morgan. They will be followed by a plenary session dedicated to the Post-COP21. This format of this session will be a panel discussion focused upon the ability of cities to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. In addition, the 50th anniversary of the field of plate tectonics, and the Cassini and Juno space missions will be highlighted during the meeting’s proceedings. Last but not the least, the move to New Orleans has given us the opportunity to organize scientific sessions dedicated to topics of local and regional importance to the Gulf, especially after what has been a particularly devastating Atlantic hurricane season.

Also new this year is a Union Session devoted to some of the hottest topics in the Earth and space science published in AGU journals this past year. The 2017 Fall Meeting also marks the inauguration of Student Engagement to Enhance Development (SEED), the first Union Session devoted solely to the professional mentorship of youth. Furthermore, Outstanding Student Paper Award (OSPA) winners will have the opportunity to share their research and interact more closely with their peers and colleagues – oral winners will present their results through an elevator-pitch style presentation format while the poster winners will share their results through eLightning presentations. With the SEED and ”New Generation of Scientists” Union Sessions, AGU is now making great strides to the invest in and engage the newest generation of Earth and space scientists.

Finally, in the wake of a series devastating global natural disasters in 2017, several late breaking sessions have been added to the program to address the recent hurricanes that have struck the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean islands; massive flooding in Asia; the Oman Ophiolith drilling project; the North Korea’s nuclear test, and the earthquakes in Mexico. In addition, a session meant to address climate solutions has been organized in the hope of bringing together a wide spectrum of Earth and space scientists to bring their expertise to bear with respect to this complex issue.

In sum, this 2017 Fall Meeting, unique in many ways, provides numerous opportunities to introduce new and innovative changes to AGU members that I hope will help create an even more interactive scientific environment and atmosphere in the cultural rich city of New Orleans. Thus, I invite you to enjoy all that the crescent city and Fall Meeting have to offer.