‘Advertising your research in 2 minutes’

The new EGU General Assembly presentation format – April 2021


For the second year in a row, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic meant the EGU General Assembly was held virtually with no in-person attendance. However, the online format enabled vEGU21 to last for a week longer than usual, from 19-30 April 2021, and have more attendants from a greater number of countries. In their own words: “vEGU21 has included 18,155 scientists from 136 countries, attending 13,643 live presentations in 642 scientific sessions, 5 Union Symposia, and 32 Medal and Award Lectures sessions; attending 5 Great Debates and 56 Short Courses; networking in 47 Union-organized and 72 pop-up networking events; and attending 117 side events. Our live session pages were loaded 200,901 times in total with a median of 141 virtual participants per session. The number of daily unique visitors to our conference was around 13,000. The authors uploaded 12,015 display materials alongside their abstracts, including 5,412 videos hosted on Vimeo, which have received 1,591 comments so far, with more expected during the commenting period, which lasts until 31 May” (https://www.egu21.eu/).

The vPICO format

The 3DDD team were involved, with Louise Cavalcante and Sarra Kchouk both delivering vPICO presentations. The vPICO format consisted of 1.5-hour-long sessions that featured approximately 20 abstracts and were divided into two parts: an overview and breakout room discussion. The overview was an introductory round of live 2-minute talks each based on a single slide. The aim of the slide and 2-minute talk was to summarise the essence of the research. This was followed by breakout room discussion between presenters and other virtual attendees.

Opinions overheard about the vPICO format included:

  1. It was useful to find about ongoing research similar to your own, i.e. on topics in which you were already an expert, but it is less useful for learning about new fields because little background or depth can be provided with one slide and 2 minutes.
  2. The format was interesting and successful in catching and maintaining the attention of the group for a longer period. This is especially important since for more than a year everything has been “virtual”  so it is difficult to manage our attention span in the case of long presentations. The discussions in the breakout rooms were lively and interesting.
  3. Having one short presentation after the other made the session more dynamic than a conventional 15-minute presentation format. The presentations were short enough to not get bored easily; we could focus more on who is the person and what is their overall approach. The breakout out rooms were trickier. We experienced two different cases: In the first case, the breakout rooms were individual and I personally think it was not the best, neither for the presenter nor the attendees. When you are a presenter, you also want to ask questions to other presenters. As an attendee, sometimes I felt too shy to enter to an individual breakout room because the one-on-one interaction with a stranger, sometimes someone that is a known leader in their field, was intimidating. In the second case: the breakout rooms were composed of a group of five presenters. As a presenter, I liked it very much. It relieved the pressure of being on my own, fearing that nobody would come to my breakout room. It was more dynamic because presenters could ask me a question, making parallels with their own research, and I could do the same. Of course, there were other breakout rooms happening at the same time with interesting content that I would have liked to have joined but couldn’t because I had to stay at mine.
  4. Of course, we are all tired of performing online. Virtual conferences remove the conventional refreshments period after the sessions to get to know each other better, personally and regarding our research. It was too bad that the virtual card wasn’t fully played, for example, by organising a social event after a session or by joining multiple sessions. That’s because I felt that the people in my session were very friendly. On the other hand, I also felt that the event being virtual made me gain a bit of virtual visibility. I saw it through retweets, likes and followers on Twitter, and emails following the events.

3DDD presentations

EGU Session: 13:00–15:00 Wednesday 28 April 2021 – HS5.1.2 Advances in sociohydrology

Presentation title: A multiple streams analysis of drought policies in Ceará state, Brazil 

Authors: Louise Cavalcante, Germano Ribeiro Neto, Art Dewulf, Pieter van Oel, Francisco Souza Filho

Abstract: Interactions between society and water are complex, socio-hydrological systems are influenced by policies, which rarely are a simple linear response with the aim of providing the most efficient solution. In drought contexts, a new layer of complexity is added, considering the different uncertainties involved, related to the rainfall season, or the duration of multi-year drought events. We utilized the Multiple Streams Approach (MSA) theory to answer the following question: how do multi-year droughts function as focusing events? Focusing events may trigger greater attention to problems and solutions because they increase the likelihood that more organized interests, including some that are influential and powerful, could advocate policy change. MSA seeks to explain how policy changes. It assumes the policy change happens when three separate streams interact: (1) the problem stream, involving the emergence or recognition of a problem by society; (2) the policy stream, containing policy ideas and alternatives generated by specialists, researchers, politicians, and social actors; and (3) the politics stream, referring to the political, administrative, and legislative context favorable or unfavorable to developing certain actions to overcome the problem. The justification to apply the MSA lenses in this is study is to understand the influences of multi-year drought events as a focusing event that triggered the process of policy change considering the subnational context of Ceará state in Brazil. In this study, the following methodological procedures were used: (a) historical overview of drought occurrence and the policy responses in Ceará; (b) data processing of hydrologic records (rainfall). We found three main different policy approaches to drought impacts: reactive, proactive, and drought preparedness policies. We found in some cases that multi-year droughts served as focusing events that opened windows of opportunities, triggering policy response changes, such as, collaboration, new problem framing, and increased political attention. Our findings have implications for the socio-hydrology field, as there is still significant scope for increasing the understanding of the influences of public policies in the context of coupled-humans systems, especially in the context of drought.

How to cite: Cavalcante, L., Ribeiro Neto, G., Dewulf, A., van Oel, P., and Souza Filho, F.: A multiple streams analysis of drought policies in Ceará state, Brazil, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13225, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13225, 2021.

EGU Session: 11:00–13:00 Friday 30 April 2021 – NH9.10 Drought risk, vulnerability and impact assessment: achievements and future directions

Presentation title: Selecting indicators of drought impacts: the importance of context 

Authors: Sarra Kchouk, Pieter van Oel, Lieke Melsen

Abstract: Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS) and Drought Monitoring Systems (DMS) are the principal tools used to tackle drought at an early stage and reduce the possibility of harm or loss. They are based on the use of drought indicators attributed to either : meteorological, agricultural and hydrological drought. This means that it is mostly hydro-climatic variables that are used to determine the onset, end and severity of a drought.  Drought impacts are rarely continuously monitored or even not included in DEWS and DMS. In this configuration, the likelihood of experiencing impacts is linearly linked to the severity of climatic features only. The aim of our study is to question the direct linkage between the delivery of hydro-climatic information and the detection of drought impacts and their severity. We reviewed scientific literature on drought drivers and impacts and analyzed how these two compare. We conducted a bibliometric analysis based on 4000+ scientific studies sorted by geographic area in which selected (i) drought indicators and (ii) impacts of drought were mentioned. Our review points toward an attachment to a conceptual view of drought by the main and broader use of meteorological (computed and remotely sensed) drought indicators. Studies reporting impacts related to food and water securities are more localized, respectively in Sub-Saharan Africa and Australasia. This mismatch suggests a tendency to translate hydroclimatic indicators of drought directly into impacts while neglecting relevant local contextual information. With the aim of sharpening the information provided by DEWS and DMS, we argue in favor of an additional consideration of drought indicators oriented towards the SDGs.

How to cite: Kchouk, S., van Oel, P., and Melsen, L.: Selecting indicators of drought impacts: the importance of context, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1134, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1134, 2021.

3DDD experiences

“In my breakout room it was interesting to discuss the differences in policy responses to drought impacts between Brazil and Germany. In Brazil, the social vulnerability of farmers and citizens to drought impacts makes the issue more urgent, whereas in Germany the issue has not received much attention from decision-makers. In European countries, society is not threatened by drought as in Latin American countries; one of the policy responses to drought impacts in Germany includes paying insurance for farmers, which seems to be ‘easier’ and ‘cheaper’ for a country with a strong economy than investing in drought preparedness”.

Having a dry start into life – Drought impacts on child health in Malawi. Anne Zimmer, Charlotte Plinke, Katharina Lehmann-Uschner, and Stefan Lange.

“A very interesting presentation from Anne Zimmer (who is not a hydrologist but a climate change economist), linking “drought” events to stunting in kids in Malawi. I can’t agree with all of her methodological approach; I don’t think it is flawless. I think many shortcuts are taken between associating drought to SPEI to food insecurity to stunting in kids younger than 6yo. But this is only from a methodological point of view. Beyond that, I think her research is really innovative, underlies the true challenges of drought in some areas and shows how countries are not all equal when it comes to drought and drought impacts.”

Drought risk in urban areas: a monetization of drought risk in 97 cities around the globe. Tristian Stolte, Philip Ward, Hans de Moel, Felix van Veldhoven, Snigdha Garg, and Neuni Farhad.

“I couldn’t attend his breakout room but it is very intriguing work. I think this presentation is about Tristan’s whole PhD. Intriguing because: First, they assimilate agricultural drought to “drought induced food shortages and increased food prices”, that we would consider to be an impact. Second, they look specifically at hydrological drought – as they focus on cities – through shortages of municipal surface water supplies (which can also be considered as an impact). That last point can be innovative if we consider what my paper shows: very little attention to hydrological drought. They then estimate drought risk by monetizing the cost of those two “types of drought” (but both are actually impacts) based on the replacement costs of alternative water sources. They do so for 97 cities of the C40 confederation. So comparative work would allow to highlight the underlying vulnerability of each area. However, they do address vulnerability “through vulnerability indicators that give *context* to the risk estimate”. I think he is in the first steps of his research so that’s why it still seems very general, a bit confused as well. Also, I can’t agree with the assimilation of a type of drought (and assumed impacts) based on ONE indicator as he does. But overall, very interesting work that promises a lot!”

Session: HS2.1.2. Advances in African hydrology and climate: modelling, water management, environmental and food security

Projecting conflict risk following the Shared Socioeconomic pathways: what role for water stress and climate?  Sophie de Bruin, Jannis Hoch, Nina von Uexkull, Halvard Buhaug, and Nico Wanders

“With the help of machine learning techniques, they link climate change, socio-economic factors and violent conflicts in Africa and make projections. Climate change and socio-economic factors being the drivers of violent conflicts. It is a nice study because it changes from the very acclaimed studies linearly linking drought to conflicts and overlooking the context and the share of each.”

Session: HS1.2.4. Panta Rhei (hydrology, society, environmental change) and Unsolved Problems in Hydrology (UPH).

Pick your adventure: Does hydrology need to prepare for MadMax and Waterworld or for Star Trek?  Rolf Hut

“It is an introductory talk for the famous “Twenty-three Unsolved Problems in Hydrology (UPH)” in a format of a funny video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp2xNex-MSY

So basically, what would (addressing) hydrology look like in 2100? Science-fiction in the pop culture is brought to illustrate the certainty of the rise of global temperature and sea levels. Two main scenarios: Waterworld (sea level rise) and Mad Max (extreme water scarcity). This parallel is made based on the fact that even if they are unsolved, there are still known “questions” in hydrology but there seems to be a complete doubt about the associated societal questions linked to climate change.”

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