What to do at EGU

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna, affectionately and efficiently known as EGU.

Over 13,000 scientists from across the world get together for a week to discuss the centre of the earth, far flung space and everything, literally everything, located in between. Seeing so many researchers together, in so much comfortable footwear and with such a wide array of backpacks, is a special experience indeed.

This was my second EGU, but my first as a grown-up scientist rather than a student. The first time was completely overwhelming, and I left thinking that mass meetings were not my scientific bag.

But this year was very different. I got some useful feedback on my work, met heaps of new people in my field, connected with some people I’d been longing to collaborate with, and re-connected with great old colleagues and friends.

I am a bit more experienced now it’s true, and know a few more names and faces. This year I was also fortunate to give a talk , and give it at the start of the week, meaning that a) my presentation was out of the way early and b) the few people who did see my talk had more time to catch me and ask questions.

But I was also more prepared this year, and I think I’ve figured out a few of the dos and don’ts  (dont’s?) of EGU. They are, in the order that I thought of them… Continue reading “What to do at EGU”

Calçots, calçots, calçots!

(To the tune of the Barça FC anthem)

As I’ve mentioned before, calçots are one of the true seasonal delights of living in this part of the world.

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A common sight at the front of many fruit and vegetable shops in Tortosa right now.

If the winter sun is shining, then I can’t think of a better to spend your Saturday afternoon than gorging yourself on these sweet oniony treats at a calçotada. Continue reading “Calçots, calçots, calçots!”

Why we need old weather data

When people ask me what I do here, my standard response is “Soy investigadora, en el Centro de Cambio Climatic”. Most people take this to mean that I work with the political and economic solutions required to solve the diabolical problem of climate change (which they then quiz me about), but sadly this is not true.

I work with old weather.

Yep, old numbers. Historical weather observations taken up to 250 years ago. I find them, digitise them, and check them to see how reliable they are.

When I occasionally manage to explain this in my basic Spanish, people generally look disappointed, confused, and then they slink away.

Recovering old weather data is not at the “coal face” of climate change research (haha, pun), and many people may think that it’s not really important for helping us figure out how we are going to manage the future.

How wrong they are! Continue reading “Why we need old weather data”

Australia’s meteorological anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the First Fleet’s arrival in Sydney Cove, only 228 years ago. A defining moment, certainly, although more and more people agree that the 26th of January is not the right day to honour all things Australian.

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The Founding of Australia, 1788. Oil sketch by Algernon Talmdge (1837). Image: State Library of New South Wales.

To commemorate the date, let’s have a look at Australia’s earliest weather observations. Their history, funnily enough, began at exactly the same time… Continue reading “Australia’s meteorological anniversary”

The week that was a year

This post is a week late because of a long weekend and a cold. Delivering something a bit later than planned is also an extremely Catalan experience (particularly when it comes to trains), so I think it’s sort of appropriate.

We have officially been here for a year now. Isn’t that crazy? It certainly doesn’t feel like a year to me, although looking back at the blog posts, photos and town maps that we have accumulated in the past 12 months the number of adventures we’ve had makes it easy to think that we have actually been here for longer.

Many of the things that seemed completely foreign to us when we arrived now seem common place. Of course you would not eat lunch before 2pm and all shops will be shut from 1:30pm until 5pm. Naturally you celebrate every religious, local or charity event with a parade through the streets featuring a marching band and some giants. And obviously you would not even consider eating any meal without bread, preferably bread that is rubbed with tomato. Continue reading “The week that was a year”

The week our visas expired

As I have alluded to in the past, the process of obtaining our visas to come to Tortosa was an incredible comedy of administrative hell. The twists and turns, the soaring highs and bone-crushing lows, were nothing short of a Game of Thrones saga (although obviously without quite so much blood).

Continue reading “The week our visas expired”

The week of responsible research

Responsible research, sustainable science, aware academia. No matter which alliteration you choose, considering the environmental impact of your research sounds a bit meaningless, like dynamic synergy.

But is it?  If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense for climate researchers to think about the climate footprint of their research.  The two main pros for this are that:
a)  we obviously need to reduce global carbon emissions right now and everyone has to do their part, but also that
b) climate scientists will be more well respected if we lead by example. Wouldn’t you have less faith in your doctor if she was a smoker, or put less trust in your architect if he lived in a ugly house?

Continue reading “The week of responsible research”

The week of the cry

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Is it worth it?

A few days ago I came home for lunch and had one of the biggest melt downs I’ve had in ages. Not one of those little tearies that might happen after you stub your toe, but a full on, family pet died kind of crying session. Why? Because I could not solve a problem at work. All morning I had tried and tried to fix this small issue, and it simply would not budge. I was frustrated at myself and the world, and the only non-violent way to deal with it was to cry. Don’t tell Tim Hunt. Continue reading “The week of the cry”

The week in the cloud

When I was at school, I would always take home what I now realise was ‘optimistic homework’. Two text books, two binders, my pencil case, the novel we were reading in English, three notebooks, my diary, and my calculator. You know, just in case. It was lucky for me that large, surfing brand backpacks were cool when I was at high school, because mine was chock-a-block on the bus almost every day, full of tasks that I ‘might’, but generally didn’t, complete.

During my PhD, I did all of my work on a laptop. It was connected to a large monitor most days (I’m not a complete posture masochist) but again it meant that almost every night I would ride home with my Mac Book Pro on my back, full of intentions to work. Inevitably, I would then drag it back again the next day having not opened it at all.

My current work situation puts me in the blessed position of being able to walk to and from my office. I can come home for lunch, nip back if I’ve forgotten something, and walk a lovely 3km everyday. But finally, I am getting a bit smarter. I take a small bag, my diary, a bottle of water, and that’s it. Why? Because now I live in the cloud. Continue reading “The week in the cloud”