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  • Writer's pictureXia Lin

Our intense experience at the 2023 EGU General Assembly PARTI

Today we would like to introduce our APECS-Belgium members, who attended the 2023 European Geosciences Union (EGU) general assembly and are excited to share their highlights and tips.

Bianca Mezzina is a post-doctoral researcher at the UCLouvain, shares her experience at first.

EGU is such an intense experience that you will need another week just to recover from it… And that’s right about when you’ll start missing the early morning sessions, the not-so-great-but-still-free coffee, the lively discussions at the posters and even bumping into old friends while looking for a quiet moment in the restroom. Maybe because it was the first EGU where everything was “back to normal” after Covid, maybe because I have been missing it for a while, but it has been incredibly exciting (and, well, exhausting) for me!

Here are some of my personal highlights, in no particular order:

-The Great Debate “As climate change impacts accelerate, are we sleepwalking into the inferno…?”. An intentionally provoking title for an enlightening debate (with a very diverse panel) on climate change and how to take action at different levels. I simply loved it and took home some extremely valuable messages.

-I attended for the first time some division meetings, for CL (climate) and CR (cryosphere): they were interesting because I could discover a bit what’s behind the EGU divisions - which I knew very little about. Definitely much more work than I would have ever suspected!! I also liked the “sense of community” emerging in these meetings (plus: lunch included!).🙂

-I presented my current work during the session “Under cover: The Southern Ocean’s connection to sea ice and ice shelves”. I opened this afternoon session (noooo pressure at all…) by recalling a well-known fact about Antarctica: between 2016 and 2017, the sea ice extent reached record low values. While this event has been widely studied, some of its aspects are still unclear, in particular what were the roles played by the atmosphere and ocean in yielding these unusual sea ice conditions. Jumping between memes and plots, I showed some preliminary results using a climate model with a very special set-up… Well, follow me to know what happens next! ;).

Bianca Mezzina's presentation during the conference. Photo credit: Ángel G. Muñoz (@agmunozs)

-I co-convened the session “Predictions of climate from seasonal to (multi)decadal timescales (S2D) and their applications”, with an excellent opening talk by Balakrishnan Solaraju-Murali, who discussed decadal predictions in the framework of climate services. Despite taking place on Friday afternoon, both the oral and poster sessions were a success, with a substantial audience and many questions! Kudos to all the participants! Furthermore, It was my first time being a co-convener and I can say I had quite some fun :D

-How not to mention the Hans Oeschger Medal Lecture by our very own Prof Hugues Goosse? All EGU lectures are great as they are intended for a broad audience, but this one was just awesome! Ok, I might be a bit biased, he is my boss after all …But I am sure that “independent” sources will confirm! In the end, many UCLouvain colleagues and other collaborators gathered for a nice group photo (and tasty dinner later!)

Group photo of UCLouvain colleagues and other collaborators. Photo credit: Marie Cavitte

“Well, what can I add to this wonderful summary by Bianca!” Said Marie Cavitte.

For me it was my…mmmhhm… 5th EGU I think, and I enjoy it as much every single time! I don’t know if it is because it’s a community I’ve known for a long time and so colleagues have practically become friends at this point… Or the fact that EGU also has a wonderful programme of Union Symposia, Great Debates,... that are incredibly insightful each time.

This year’s focus was very much on the climate transition: having a just, equitable and fast transition and how to get there. And you’re in luck because these will all be publicly available starting from June 2023 (you can already see the list on the EGU23 page). And I 100% agree with Bianca: the Great Debate “As climate change impacts accelerate, are we sleepwalking into the inferno…?“ was just amazing, so much so that I wrote a giant twitter thread with all the incredible quotes I wrote down from it.

I also participated, with my partner Brice Van Liefferinge online, in the incredibly important Union Symposia “How to juggle academia&parent/caring” (US4 if you want to watch it! And the GeLog for a short summary) which made me realize two things. One, single parents and carers face such incredible challenges to maintain a career. Two, we must keep fighting to make academia inclusive for all.

Since Bianca covered Hugues’ Medal Lecture, I’ll mention the amazing ECS Medal Lectures of Harry Zekollarion mountain glacier evolution and of Wim Thiery on how a person’s experience of climate reality is so heavily dependent on the year they’re born. Truly inspirational talks and persons both of them (makes sense, they’re best friends, as they said in each other’s respective speeches!).

There were a number of amazing science-for-policy sessions as well, organized by Chloe Hill, where we discussed how to communicate more effectively with policy makers on climate stakes. Policy makers from the EU policy sphere were present to give us insightful views on this topic and after a few weeks of decanting all this treasure trove of info (really!), what really stuck with me are two points. One: policy makers really don’t have any time to delve into our scientific works and so we must make the first step and reach out to them.Two: what we communicate must be relevant to their policy, timely with respect to their law making processes and offer options with impact assessments that they can use directly. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, you should definitely sign up for the EGU science for policy newsletter and follow the official EGU Policy Twitter Account which shares easy-to-read updates and opportunities.

Also, we had the traditional Cryosphere Division-wide Social Night-Out which was super well attended, with over 100 cryo colleagues coming by to grab a drink and catch up with new and old friends. Here is a photo togive you a little insight into the packed madness!

A packed bar for the Crysphere Division Social Night-Out! Photo credit: Marie Cavitte

And as an ex-EGU Cryoblog chief editor (which is in the hands of three amazing cryosphere scientists now), I joined in the yearly blog picnic lunch where we welcome new members to the team and catch up with the old/current members! Super nice, especially with the lovely sunny weather.

Cryoblog picnic lunch with everyone in the lovely park just next to the conference venue. Photo credit: Marie Cavitte.

Now, just need to open that conference notebook and get on my to-do-list of wonderful ideas that emerged from it all!

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