AGU conference – lots of people!

By Evan

No, I am not at the AGU Fall Meeting this year. Though, now that I see what is happening there, and pictures of my friends from afar, I wish I was. The American Geophysical Union holds its fall meeting every December in San Francisco, and is the largest gathering of earth scientists in the world. Here are some of the big events going on.

Rumours abounded last week when a NPR report said a that an announcement of results from the Curiosity rover was “gonna be one for the history books”. NASA has tempered those expectations. Disappointingly to some, the results presented were the first analyses of Martian soil, which may have found chlorinated methane compounds (though NASA suggests the methane could have originated from the rover itself).

Another big event at this year’s AGU meeting is a panel discussion on the Deepsea Challenge dives, featuring James Cameron. Along with a reflection on the series of dives, they will be presenting the initial scientific findings of these dives.

Another session that is of interest to scientists is on the results of the verdict against the scientists who were convicted of manslaughter after the A’quilla earthquake, which will be on Thursday (or Friday morning here in Australia). The session includes a panel discussion, which will no doubt draw the attention of those scientists who are involved in risk management.

I went to the AGU meeting in 2006, and I have to say it was an exciting experience.  Some 20,000 people attend the meeting, and there are sessions on pretty much any earth science related topic you could think of. One of the exciting moments then was seeing Al Gore give the keynote speech!  I presented a poster on my master’s research, and it was encouraging to meet other scientists in my field who gave my work the thumbs up. In addition, I got to see some pretty neat places, like Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge.

I plan on going to the smaller EGU conference next year, and I am sure it will be a highlight of my PHD.