The EGU General Assembly 2015


A first-timer's view

Author: Alexander Walsh

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2015 took place at the Austria Centre Vienna between 12 and 17 April and was attended by around 12,000 geoscientists from 108 countries. Four of these attendees were from JBA Risk Management; I was one of them.

The EGU is a non-profit international union of geoscientists from around the world. The annual General Assembly brings these people together into one meeting covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary and space sciences. The meeting typically has over 500 sessions covering a wide range of topics such as natural hazards, volcanology, atmospheric sciences, hydrology and climate science as well as energy and resources.

We arrived on Tuesday 14th to see many people wandering around with EGU passes around their necks or carrying poster tubes. The city had been expecting a swell in people from those attending the event and had prepared for it. Metro stations had maps highlighting the route to the conference and trams had EGU flags flying from their roofs. On the Wednesday morning we joined other commuters on the Metro heading to the Vienna International Centre, home of the United Nations Office and the Austria Centre Vienna.

As we alighted from the train we joined a stream of academic-looking people walking the short distance to the entrance. The event is largely academically based with 23% of attendees being students from universities across the globe, there to present findings from their PhD or Master’s qualifications.

The event was well organised.  As soon as we walked through the door we were handed a guidebook which listed the week’s schedule. Around the venue there were all sorts of information outlets to help you plan which talks you wished to attend and get the most out of your day(s) there. They even had a downloadable app to do this!

This year there were 4,870 oral presentations and 8,489 poster presentations in over twenty categories. JBA had four representatives presenting at this year’s event covering a range of topics including channel capacity assumptions, coastal wave overtopping, post-event footprint generation and social vulnerability techniques. Our presentations were included in the Natural Hazards disciplinary sessions. One of our two poster presentations explained the advantages of an alternative approach to assessing global flood exposure, while the other described a case study wherein hypothetical present-day insured losses for past intense hurricanes in the French Antilles were estimated.

Assessment of global flood exposure

As a first time attendee I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d been told by colleagues who’d attended the assembly in the past that it was a great experience. I can now say that it certainly lived up to its reputation.

Vienna is a stunning city and, being near the centre of Europe, is a great location for the event. The EGU General Assembly has continued to grow since its inception in 2004 and dates for the next four years are already planned. It looks as though its future is secure for some time to come.  

Author: Alexander Walsh, JBA Risk Management