EGU 2020: A “chatty” conference

EGU 2020 is done. It was an unusual one. Will it be ever the same again?

Well, usually I write a daily report when I enjoy the yearly sunny Vienna days at the EGU, but this year everything was different. The conference was pushed to the virtual stage due to the COVID-crisis and so an unusual one was set up. But let’s start from the beginning. In January at the abstract deadline everything was the usual, I was coauthor on a number of abstracts, was early on booking an hotel (for once ;)) and went to the typical decisions what to show and what not.

As I had switched my field once again in the last year, it was mainly about giving a first glimpse into the new project. But one thing was different from the get go: For the first time I was a convener of a session.

With fellow scientists I organised a session on seasonal to decadal predictions and it were quite exciting times. I was extremely happy about the high number of ECR abstracts we received, even so that meant we had a quite low rate of scientists willing to present a talk. In the end we merged with another session, made the session a bit more applied and were awarded two sessions including a medal lecture.

Over time it became clear that this year EGU would not happen in the usual way, so everything had to be planed anew. In March it became clear how it roughly will work: uploading some kind of presentation and than chatting about it on a specific session slot. Sounds interesting and so it was.

Fast forward to this week. On Monday my week started with my favorite topics, sea-level and long-term predictions. So it was a busy day right away. Usually around 100-200 chatter are attending a session and each convener team organised their session in a different way (something I will write about tomorrow). Tuesday was then more about the North Atlantic, so topic wise it was still on the high.

On Wednesday morning we had our own session, we got a very lively discussion, we took some risks in the structure and it all paid off well. We had many worries about trolls before the conference, but luckily they stayed mostly away.

Thursday was then more a day to relax, some interesting sessions were on the plan, but nothing really important. Just nice to look at some presentations, perhaps ask the one or other question and enjoy otherwise some calm moments. Would I have been Vienna, it would have been my off-day.

On Friday I had my display in the last session of the conference. It went well, I showed again the new Verification paper and had some good questions and interactions. The conference closed with the convener party, first time for me, even when it was just the virtual version. So it was quite short and the conference was officially over.

All in all it was a successful conference. It was not as chaotic as feared and working on a virtual stage is at least for me a quite comfortable environment. We put our project on the map, which was the aim for this year, probably better as we could have made on at a usual EGU. So next year I hope we will have again one with personal interactions, as this is what has been missed most. It was an experience, but I think the traditional format is better than the virtual one. So see you next year, hopefully in Vienna.

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