US – Union Symposia

US1 – Best practices for scientific integrity and scientific freedom in an age of pandemics - and beyond

Earth and space science are critically important so that society can benefit from effective solutions to address global environmental conditions, mitigate the impact of climate change, and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For that benefit, society needs evidence and facts on which to develop effective policies.  External forces such as growing populism, the rise of social media and “fake news”, along with what Oxford calls the Post Truth World,  are countervailing forces to societal acceptance and acknowledgement of evidence and facts. In addition, the reward and recognition system in science undervalues societal engagement and science graduate programs offer little training in effective ways to communicate and collaborate with external stakeholders.  This talk will explore these dynamics and suggest actions that the science community can undertake to position Earth and space science as the science for society in the 21st century.

How to cite: McEntee, C.: Earth and Space Science in the 21st Century: A Call for Action, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9796,, 2020.

Science is rooted in basic values. Freedom is one of them. History is rich in examples of struggles by scientists for freedom. They often had to struggle to find patrons and avoid persecution. Religious authority, often associated with political power, was a permanent challenge to freedom of thought and freedom of movement, which is a major requirement for scientific cooperation and dissemination.

We live in worrying times, where some politicians are tempted to deglobalise economies and trade by closing borders and even building walls. Letting scientific collaboration be affected and reshaped by these vision is concerning. Especially when we know that the challenges we face are global. Nationalism conditions the impact research and science can have.

The power of hierarchical structures can also lead to limitations to freedom. Scientists themselves are part of a system that makes decisions about people. There is the peer review system, making decisions on who, what and when is published. Another example of power in the hands of the scientific communities is promotion, nomination and awards. However, this power is also a remarkable opportunity for scientists to stand above political flows. Remaining loyal to principles of integrity is the only way for scientists to safeguard freedom for their own sake.

Scientific freedom from funders is crucial but impactful only if supported by independent and forward-looking decisions by scientific communities. Reviewers, promotion and award committees need a wide and integral understanding of scientific development and the vital conditions that favour this.

Freedom and integrity lies at the heart of the scientific endeavour and its ability to develop new knowledge and challenge beliefs. Scientific communities have great responsibilities and roles to play.

How to cite: Jesus-Rydin, C.: Scientific freedom and integrity in the 21st century: roles and power of scientists, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22689,, 2020.

EGU2020-22692 | Orals | US1

Geoscientists as social and political actors

Silvia Peppoloni

Geoscientists are at the fare front of informing on and supporting society to face global anthropogenic changes, at all levels. This requires making excellent science, in the full awareness of one's role towards society.

Research integrity and professionalism are the bedrock on which the individual geoscientist can develop a deep sense of responsibility and build a functional science-society relationship, being conscious of the ethical obligations that this implies.

It is precisely within the dyad individual-society that the utmost ethical and social value of the activity of geoscientists is achieved, as in this context they assume at the same time the dual role of moral subjects and social actors, and consequently can realize the meaning of being active and responsible subjects in the service of the human beings.

In order to achieve this goal, each geoscientist should individually strengthen the perception of being: (a) a moral subject, therefore an agent consciously responsible for the own conduct and the ethical and social implications of own actions; (b) a social and political subject, who actively contributes to the construction of the idea of society, to the vision of its future, to its cultural and economic development, including the creation of a knowledge society based on the democratic value of shared responsibility.

Within the ethical framework of reference in which geoscientists are called to act, there is an indispensable prerequisite, that makes possible the responsible action and allows behaving ethically: individual freedom.

A cohesive, motivated, and responsible international geoscience community can assure a safe operating space to geoscientists and encourage them to follow best practices and ethical behaviours while conducting their activities, to qualify their work and recognize the value of a responsible action to counter abuses, intimidations and political pressures.

This cannot simply be entrusted to codes of ethics and/or conduct, but demands an intense ethical training for the geoscientists, that shows them the numerous circumstances and difficulties that each one might be called upon to face during the scientific and professional career.

How to cite: Peppoloni, S.: Geoscientists as social and political actors, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22692,, 2020.

Nicaragua is a Central American country historically affected by catastrophes that have caused thousands of deaths and significant economic damages. Natural disasters are usually intertwined with repeated political crises (foreign interventions, dictatorships, armed conflicts and political unrest), which in turn hamper it´s economy and make the country even more vulnerable, suffering from severe institutional and geographic vulnerability, further aggravated by the effects of global warming.

Against this adverse background, local scientists have made significant strides in education and science. Serving a highly vulnerable society, in the past 25 years geoscientists and other professionals have been building a more resilient Nicaragua by creating and operating seismic, volcanic, meteorological and hydrological networks, mapping multi-hazards in the most susceptible municipalities, organizing emergency response institutions and developing higher education programs for disaster risk management. In spite of the limited economical resources, geoscientists have embraced a strong commitment and ethical values, working with honesty and a sense of responsibility.

Over the past 12 years the country was submitted to a political regime change that ended up devastating the nascent democratic system and the rule of law, and has led to human right abuses.  These long-term problems along with the latest socio political crisis (April 2018) have had disastrous repercussions for the whole society, especially in the educational and scientific sectors.

The government has imposed censorship, intimidation and political interference. Scientists working at state institutions have been replaced by loyal political officials lacking reputable technical background. This has conditioned the scientific research and suppressed the freedom of expression of public servants with devastating consequences on disaster mitigation and response, and the undermining of the credibility of institutions and geoscientists. The negative impacts of these decisions is observed in the limitations of their services and the quality of their scientific results.

The experiences of the Academy of Sciences of Nicaragua will be discussed in its advisory role and impact on Nicaraguan society. Considering the systematic destruction of the rule of law and of human rights, the Academy focused on addressing the issues faced by university students, professors and scientists, including censorship, harassment, coercion and prosecution.

We will address (1) the Academy´s advisory work regarding the environmental risks posed by the Interoceanic Canal Project (considered as the largest engineering project in the world) and (2) the Academy´s role in contributing to solving the current sociopolitical crisis.

Used as best practices, these topics may be of relevance to the EGU audience and the scientific community at large. They could be relevant for scientists working under precarious political conditions and where political environments are hostile to scientists and scientific unions, making science advising extremely complicated.

There is an urgent need for the international community to lend their support to finding a peaceful resolution to this desperate situation in Nicaragua. Moreover, the support of global scientific societies will be decisive in the aftermath of the crisis to rebuild institutions and infrastructure for education and science, with specific training programs on geosciences. 

How to cite: Huete-Perez, J. A. and Devoli, G.: Impact of the current sociopolitical crisis on research and education in Nicaragua. The role of scientific societies. , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3093,, 2020.

There is a perception that trust in science and scientists has been eroded by, amongst other forces, populist ideologies that have rapidly gained traction in Europe, the Americas and elsewhere in recent years. Apparent scepticism about climate change, efficacy of vaccines and an ideology that promotes self-interest over the greater good has the potential to erode trust in scientists who are often painted as disconnected, intellectual elite. As a highly educated, UK government minister and Justice Secretary recently and famously stated “people in this country have had enough of experts”. If that is true, then who are the public listening to and who do they trust? Have we really entered a post-truth world? Is this picture a true reflection of public attitudes? Where do these narratives come from and what can scientists do to counteract a potentially destructive portrayal of our community? In this presentation, I aim to tackle these questions alongside the role that organisations such as EGU can play and the importance of transparency, honesty and openness to dispel the myths promulgated by some of the negative forces acting in society today. I will do this with examples drawn from my own experiences as an academic and former president of EGU. I will reflect on some of the challenges we faced, how we responded to them and the lessons learned.

How to cite: Bamber, J.: Scientific integrity, personal responsibility, public trust and the role of professional societies, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22690,, 2020.

The world’s scientific research hub has been steadily shifting eastwards over the past two decades. Annual R&D spending for the so called Asia-8 economies (China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand) overtook the EU in the mid-2000s. In the 13th five-year plan (2016-20), China committed to increase R&D spending by 35% by 2020.  In a demographic shift, the number of students from Asian countries in postgraduate education in science and engineering (both domestically and overseas) has grown rapidly.  Other metrics of research productivity, such as journal publication output, show very rapid growth from Asia and from China in particular.  While the big picture is encouraging, the burgeoning growth of science output from Asia imposes constraints on governance systems such as peer review and ethical oversight.  Asia is also a continent of diversity with a variety of national guidelines on scientific integrity, uneven access to resources between and within countries and keen competition to raise the profile of universities within league tables.  Within this context, Asia Oceania Geosciences Society was founded in 2003 to promote the application of geosciences for the benefit of humanity. In a region where natural hazards are prevalent, encouraging the sharing of understanding of risk management through scientific, social and technological means is important.  The challenges of scientific integrity are manifest in this diverse and rapidly growing sector but so too are the opportunities for harnessing research to benefit society.

How to cite: Higgitt, D.: The Rise of Geosciences in Asia: Challenges and Opportunities for Scientific Integrity, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22694,, 2020.

US2 – Geosciences and UN Sustainable Development Goals: pathways for the future

Geoscience is foundational to sustainability, and an enabler of inclusive economic growth, human development, and environmental protection. Geoscientists understanding of Earth resources, dynamics and systems can help (in partnership with others) to advance progress and support the transition to sustainability, as set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). ‘Business as usual’, however, is not enough to realise the significant ambitions of this development agenda, ensuring that we leave no one behind. As the geoscience community steps up to meet the geoscientific requirements of the SDGs we need to review not just what we can contribute, but also how we work.

Effective pathways for future sustainability therefore requires geoscientists to adapt in order to increase the relevance and impact of our contribution, improve accountability, and build respectful partnerships for development. This presentation articulates and discusses 10 guiding principles that aim to enhance the way in which we work, particularly when collaborating with those in the Global South (so called ‘developing countries’). These guiding principles draw upon existing internationally recognised quality standards for development and humanitarian work and set these into the context of geoscience-for-development activities (including research, innovation, training, and capacity strengthening).

Guiding principles advocate geoscience-for-development activities that:

  1. Support lasting and positive change, through appropriate, relevant and sustainable activities.
  2. Strengthen local capacity and ownership of geoscience-for-development activities (empowerment).
  3. Advance inclusion of vulnerable and marginalised groups.
  4. Communicate effectively, including listening.
  5. Capture and share learning with both internal and external audiences.
  6. Identify and act upon potential or actual unintended negative effects in a timely and systematic manner.
  7. Value cooperation, working in a coordinated and complementary manner.
  8. Manage resources effectively, efficiently and ethically.
  9. Ensure appropriate internal training and support.
  10. Are transparent and accountable.

These principles support the planning of high-quality sustainable development interventions, effective monitoring and evaluation of project partnerships and approaches, and clear communication of values to all relevant stakeholders. Indicators for each guiding principle illustrate how to demonstrate these within a project, supported by active, critical reflection on the specific context. These guiding principles have shaped the ODA activities of the British Geological Survey programme, Geoscience for Sustainable Future, with examples set out during this presentation.

How to cite: Gill, J. C.: Guiding Principles for Effective Engagement of Geoscientists in Sustainable Development Activities, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7073,, 2020.

As presented in the UN Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2019, extreme changes in ecological and social systems are happening now, across multiple dimensions and scales more quickly and surprisingly than we ever thought possible. Non-linear, systemic change is a reality, and new risks and correlations are emerging in ways that we have not anticipated. Cost estimates of unmitigated climate change for instance, are now considered “potentially infinite”. Threats that were once considered inconceivable, no longer are.

Risks generated by the interaction of complex human and natural systems, amplified by changes in the climate, are increasing the propensity for systems reverberations, setting up feedback loops with cascading consequences that are larger, more complex and more difficult to foresee – undermining, and potentially reversing efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In seeking to build the resilience of economies, communities and ecosystems, UN Member States adopted the Sendai Framework, which considerably expanded the scope of hazards beyond natural, to include man-made hazards and related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks.  In so doing, States endorsed the shift from managing disasters to managing risks, calling for a better understanding of the underlying drivers of risk as well as their impacts.

The Sendai Framework stipulates that the global community must come to terms with a new understanding of the dynamic nature of systemic risks, new structures to govern risk in complex, adaptive systems and develop new tools for risk-informed decision-making that allows human societies to live in and with uncertainty.

This compels new approaches to improve understanding and management of risk dynamics and risk drivers at a range of spatial and temporal scales. It requires particular emphasis on the interaction among different systems resulting from the activities of humans in nature.

The era of hazard-by-hazard risk reduction is therefore over, and while modelling and metrics are important, we can no longer use the past as a reliable indicator of the future. We need to reflect the systemic nature of risk in how we seek to manage it, tuning our understanding of anthropogenic systems in nature.  This means moving away from working on distinct even isolated areas of risk when researching, designing and implementing interventions. We need to incentivize interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, integrated, multisectoral risk assessment, analysis and decision-making to improve efficiency, reduce duplication and allow for connected, collective action.  The pluralistic, systemic nature of risk demands a shift in the way we generate, collect, structure data, and organise our research, our thinking, our decisions, how we invest.

For the risk science community to effectively support, engage and guide the implementation of the Sendai Framework, the Paris Agreement on climate and the 2030 Agenda, in humanity’s attempt to establish resilient development pathways for society and planetary health, we must expedite greater alignment and more effective deployment of finite scientific, academic and technological capabilities, and determine and operationalise frameworks for the governance of systemic risks that allow decisions to be made cognisant of (and more comfortable with) complexity and uncertainty.

How to cite: Gordon, M.: Risk insights for sustainable and resilient societies and ecosystems, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22622,, 2020.

In September 2015, the United Nations ratified the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are comprised of a further 169 targets and 232 indicators for monitoring progress on poverty, well-being and major environmental and socio-economic problems, both nationally and globally. Much of the data used for SDG monitoring comes from censuses, surveys and other administrative data provided by national statistical offices, government agencies and international organizations. However, traditional data collection can be costly and infrequent, and the information can become outdated very quickly. Moreover, reporting is generally at the national level, so spatial variations of indicators within a country are not often available, yet this information is critical for effective spatial planning. Without knowing where issues are occurring in space, we cannot implement targeted solutions. Hence, there is currently a lack of data needed for effective monitoring and implementation of the SDGs.

Non-traditional data sources such as those arising from citizen science and geospatial big data, e.g., satellite imagery, mobile phone data, social media, etc. are part of the current ‘data revolution’, all of which have potential use in SDG monitoring and implementation. This lecture will provide an overview of these new and emerging non-traditional data sources in monitoring the SDGs, providing a range of examples from citizen science, Earth Observation (including the work of the Group on Earth Observations) and mobile phone data, among others. Where relevant, we will touch upon disaster risk reduction. Finally, actions will be presented that are currently happening to promote the data revolution for sustainable development and what is still needed to make tangible progress on SDG implementation using these new data sources as well as how the engagement of citizens in data collection can trigger transformative and behavioral change.

How to cite: Fritz, S.: The Emerging Role of Citizen Science and Geospatial Big Data in Supporting the SDGs, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16829,, 2020.

EGU2020-22381 | Orals | US2

How sociohydrology can help address the global water crisis and meet the sustainable development goals

Giuliano Di Baldassarre, Murugesu Sivapalan, Maria Rusca, Elena Mondino, Megan Konar, Saket Pande, Cristophe Cudennec, Margaret Garcia, Heidi Kreibich, Johanna Mård, Mattew Sanderson, Fuqiang Tian, Jing Wei, David J. Yu, Veena Srinivasan, Alberto Viglione, and Günter Blöschl

Millions of people around the world are affected by water crises manifesting at different scales, such as increasing drought severity and flood risk, groundwater depletion, ecological degradation, poor sanitation, water pollution and its impact on human health. This global water crisis is increasingly interconnected and growing in complexity. Negative effects often result from a lack of understanding of wider economic and socio-cultural perspectives. More specifically, water crises can be deemed the intended or unintended consequences of long-term changes of social norms and values (or, more broadly, culture), ideology or political systems, which are not typically anticipated or accounted for in coping with water-related issues. Sociohydrology engages with these principles by examining the outcomes of water management and governance processes –successes and failures as well as the distribution of costs and benefits across social groups— themselves as subjects of scientific study. In this presentation, we show how feedback mechanisms between human and water systems can generate a wide range of phenomena (including crises) in different places around the world. Moreover, we argue that a generalized understanding of sociohydrological phenomena has an important role to play in informing policy processes while assisting communities, governments, civil society organizations and private actors to address the global water crisis and meet the Sustainable Development Goals, the societal grand challenge of our time.

How to cite: Di Baldassarre, G., Sivapalan, M., Rusca, M., Mondino, E., Konar, M., Pande, S., Cudennec, C., Garcia, M., Kreibich, H., Mård, J., Sanderson, M., Tian, F., Wei, J., Yu, D. J., Srinivasan, V., Viglione, A., and Blöschl, G.: How sociohydrology can help address the global water crisis and meet the sustainable development goals, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22381,, 2020.

EGU2020-22385 | Orals | US2

Drought risk reduction for achieving Sustainable Development Goals

Anne Van Loon and the Panta Rhei Drought in the Anthropocene group

Water is crucially important to most of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Not having enough water due to drought or water scarcity can result in food shortage, environmental degradation, reduced energy availability, poverty, illness and loss of life, migration and conflict. Lack of water also has intangible consequences related to equality, gender, and education that are often overlooked. These cascading socio-ecological impacts are most acute in the Global South where exposure and vulnerability to drought are high. African nations have therefore urged the international scientific community to support them by developing tools and data covering all aspects of drought risk (Padma, 2019). Our challenge is to increase our understanding of the relationship between water and society and how to use this understanding to improve water management and reduce drought risk. Real progress towards achieving the SDGs can only be made when our science is instrumental towards solving real-world problems. With the “Drought in the Anthropocene” group (90+ scientists working on the feedbacks between drought and society as part of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences’ Panta Rhei decade, we are doing interdisciplinary research on which data and tools we can utilise to reduce drought risk around the world. Here, we will share many recent examples of our research on the links between drought and SDGs and discuss ways forward to use our increased scientific understanding to make actual impact towards achieving the SDGs.


Padma, T. V. (2019). African nations push UN to improve drought research. Nature, 573, 319-319.

How to cite: Van Loon, A. and the Panta Rhei Drought in the Anthropocene group: Drought risk reduction for achieving Sustainable Development Goals, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22385,, 2020.

Water is a key element to the economic development and plays vital role in various activities including commercial, households, services, water-landscape, and water transport etc. A good water environment in cities has been achieved in developed countries (for e.g. Japan) through implementation of central wastewater treatment and sewerage systems. However, the development of sustainable water management and introducing a new sewage management method is challenging for the cities of developing nations in Asia in terms of having high capital, energy consumption and the technologies. This paper is evaluating the role and importance of sustainable development of water management methods and systems. Our findings suggest that the developed and developing countries must come forward and work together for the sustainable development of the cities in developing nations particularly by providing skills and efficient technologies for the improvement of water quality and wastewater treatment systems. For this, the progress of a systematic supported decision-making tool to allow investors and consumers to contribute to the development of sustainable water management methods and sewage treatment systems through bi- and multilateral investments. In addition, the active involvement of multi-stakeholders (citizens, local municipalities, industries, policy makers) with financial and non-financial institutions would help to create a “sustainable cities” in developing countries.

How to cite: Fukushi, K.: Determination of the role and value of water for the sustainable development of Asian cities, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8963,, 2020.

US3 – The role and impact of fire in the Earth system across spatial and temporal scales

EGU2020-20957 | Orals | US3 | Highlight

Adaptive thinking and the global fire crisis

David Bowman

Vegetation fires are an ancient, powerful, and pervasive biogeophysical process that affects the Earth System through complex interactions and feedbacks. The evolution and geographic spread of fire-wielding hominins in the Pleistocene has led to drastic, and ongoing, changes to the Earth System, a syndrome captured by the Anthropocene concept. Contemporary fire regimes are increasingly causing detrimental social, environmental and economic impacts, driven by the interaction between climate change and inappropriate land management practices. Achieving global environmental sustainability demands rethinking the relationship of humans, landscapes and fire. This requires careful blending of transdisciplinary thinking, translational research practices, and incorporation of indigenous and local knowledge. 

How to cite: Bowman, D.: Adaptive thinking and the global fire crisis , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20957,, 2020.

EGU2020-20475 | Orals | US3 | Highlight

Landscape fires and public health

Fay Johnston

Landscape fires interact with human health in a diversity of ways, both positive and negative, and can influence many basic human needs including promoting or threatening food supplies, protecting or damaging homes and environments, and influencing water and air quality. Public health impacts are thus shaped by the context and scale of landscape fires and the direct and indirect pathways for their impacts on people. This presentation will discuss a range of scenarios, from planned burning to severe wildfire disasters, to illustrate the main ways in which landscape fires influence both the physical and mental health of people and societies.

How to cite: Johnston, F.: Landscape fires and public health, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20475,, 2020.

EGU2020-10974 | Orals | US3

Fire - climate interactions in a warming world

Guido van der Werf, James Randerson, Louis Giglio, Dave van Wees, Niels Andela, Sander Veraverbeke, Douglas Morton, and Yang Chen

Elevated fire activity in 2019 across the arctic, Amazon, Australia, and other regions sparked a discussion about the role of climate change for the recent rise in biomass burning.  Given that drivers of fire vary widely between different fire types and regions, interpreting trends requires a regional breakdown of the global pattern. Our Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) now provides nearly 25 years of consistent data and offers important insights into changing fire activity. The GFED record captures a global decline in burned area, driven mostly by reductions in savanna fires from fragmentation and land use change. The global declining trend is therefore driven by areas with relatively low fuel loads where fire often decreases during drought.  Here, we report on increasing fire trends in several other regions, which become even more apparent when proxy data from before the satellite era are included. Increasing trends are concentrated in areas with higher fuel loads that burn more easily under drought conditions, and where warming leads to increasing vapor pressure deficits that contribute to more extreme fire weather and higher combustion completeness values. Therefore, the rate of decline in fire emissions is less pronounced than that in burned area, and emissions of several reduced gases have actually increased over time. The historic time series provides important context for trends and drivers of regions that burned extensively in 2019, and moving beyond burned area to estimate fire emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols is critical to assess how these events may feed back on climate change if trends continue.     

How to cite: van der Werf, G., Randerson, J., Giglio, L., van Wees, D., Andela, N., Veraverbeke, S., Morton, D., and Chen, Y.: Fire - climate interactions in a warming world, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10974,, 2020.

Fire and vegetation have a dual interaction with each other, whilst also both influencing the environment and atmosphere. For example, fire regimes are themselves controlled by atmospheric conditions, atmospheric composition, climate and the type of vegetation. Whilst, the effects of fires, the products and emissions they generate influence biogeochemical cycles and long-term Earth system processes through their impacts on nutrient cycles and by altering the composition and distribution of biomes. Hence fire is more than a simple agent of disturbance and has a multitude of complex feedbacks.

Wildfires have shaped our ecosystems and Earth system processes for some 420 million years. For example the presence of and changes in fire frequency and behaviour on evolutionary timescales has influenced the physiological traits of plants such that many ecologists have interpreted them as adaptations to fire. For example, serotiny in the Pine lineage is believed to have evolved millions of years ago in the Late Cretaceous period, where wildfires were both frequent and intense. Such traits seemingly continue to allow some plants to succeed in fire prone areas. However, humans have entirely altered ignition patterns, with some 95% of fires being started by man; we have altered the connectivity of fuels in landscapes, species composition and fuel structure. Yet we have limited understanding to what extent we have disrupted fire feedbacks to the Earth system. This lies in large part because we have not yet well understood what natural feedbacks fire has had on our planet throughout its history.

In this talk I will explore some of the critical history of fire and some of the processes that fire appears to regulate in order to pose the question - are fires a critical resource that secures the long-term balance of the Earth system that keeps our planet habitable to man?

How to cite: Belcher, C.: Quantifying the Pyrocene: How Important is Fire to Life on Earth? , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6816,, 2020.

EGU2020-9433 | Orals | US3

After the fire: biogeochemical effects of charcoal and ash on fire-affected landscapes

Cristina Santin, Matthew W. Jones, Jonay Neris, and Stefan H. Doerr

Vegetation fires are a global phenomenon that affect 3-5 million km2 every year. Both natural and caused by humans, fire burns through a very broad range of ecosystems, from boreal forest to tropical savannahs, exerting also a very broad range of effects. Despite this huge variability, there are two components always present after a fire: charcoal and ash.

Charcoal, also known as pyrogenic carbon, is a key player in the carbon cycle from fires, due to its ability to act as a carbon sink. In addition, it can play a major role in the functioning of soils via its interactions with other elements and priming of native soil organic matter. Meanwhile, ash, the powdery fire residue, can be an important source of nutrients for the post-fire regrowing vegetation, but it can also be a source of water contamination when transported by wind and water to the hydrological networks after fire. This presentation will give an overview on the current knowledge of these two interlinked components of the wildfire-affected landscapes, highlighting current gaps and future research directions.

How to cite: Santin, C., Jones, M. W., Neris, J., and Doerr, S. H.: After the fire: biogeochemical effects of charcoal and ash on fire-affected landscapes, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9433,, 2020.

Fire is a globally relevant natural or anthropogenic phenomenon with a rapidly increasing importance in the era of the climate change. In each year, approximately 4% of the global land surface burns. For effective ecosystem conservation, we need to understand fire regimes, identify potential threats, and also the possibilities in the application of prescribed burning for maintaining ecosystems.

Here I provide an overview on the contradictory role of fire in nature conservation from two continents with contrasting fire histories, focusing on European and North-American grasslands. I show that the ecological effects of fire depend on the fire regime, fire history, ecosystem properties and the socio-economic environment. Catastrophic wildfires, arson, too frequent or improperly planned human-induced fire often lead to the degradation of the ecosystems, the disappearance of rare plant and animal species, and to the encroachment of weed and invasive species. I illustrate with examples that these negative fire effects act synergistically with the human-induced changes in land use systems.

I also underline with case studies that in both regions, properly designed and controlled prescribed burning regimes can aid the understanding and managing disturbance-dependent ecosystems. Conservation in these dynamic and complex ecosystems is far more than fencing and hoping to exclude disturbance; but the contrary: disturbance is needed for ecosystem functioning. Therefore, the conservation of dynamic, diverse and functioning ecosystems often require drastic interventions and an unconventional conservation attitude. However, the expanding urban-wildlife interface makes the application of prescribed burning challenging worldwide. A major message for the future is about fire policy: it is crucial to moderate the negative effects of fire, however, properly designed prescribed burning should be used as a tool for managing and conserving disturbance-dependent ecosystems.

How to cite: Valkó, O.: The contradictory role of fire from the nature conservation perspective, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10518,, 2020.

US4 – Communicating A Global Climate Crisis: If our house is on fire, why haven’t we called the fire brigade…?

So, how do we start those important conversations, particularly with groups who would not normally have those conversations? Effective and simple visualisations is one possible way, especially when they can be spread widely on social media. This presentation will discuss the ‘warming stripes’ and how they have become a global symbol of climate change. They have been used in so many novel ways by a wide variety of people, from rock bands to weather forecasters to politicians, and been seen painted on walls, cars and trams, made into ties, dresses, logos and glass sculptures, and used in light shows and during climate protests.

How to cite: Hawkins, E.: "The most important thing to do about climate change is to talk about it." – Katherine Hayhoe, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22665,, 2020.

EGU2020-22366 | Orals | US4

Talking WITH not talking AT

Jutta Thielen-del Pozo, Adriaan Eeckels, Paul Hearn, Anne-Mette Jensen-Foreman, and Jan Glovicko

(Research and innovation are essential for a resilient society). Today, scientists have started to understand the complexities of global systems, know how to deal with uncertainties and have computing power for making predictions that did not exist before. As a result, the overall knowledge within the scientific community is increasing rapidly with unprecedented speed, while at the same time there is a tendency that the research fields narrow down and deepen and individual scientists are often so specialised that speaking about their work outside their specific research community becomes a challenge.
The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission operates at the interface between science and policy, and is taking a number of initiatives to address the challenge of how to effectively communicate scientific results to policymakers, citizens and stakeholders.  For policymakers robust data, facts and evidences are important and highly appreciated inputs, but not the only ones. Indeed, policymaking is a long process that requires continuous dialogue and exchange of information with all affected parties throughout the initiation, development and finalisation process. A final report of 500 pages summarising the outcome of a research project delivered towards the end of the drafting for a new regulation may not be taken into account, even if the results are highly relevant. 
Several JRC programmes have been piloted to improve communication with EU policy makers and to engage with citizens. The programmes are diverse and include the building of a network on clear writing, training through eLearning, thematic science-policy workshops, citizen engagement projects and events, exhibiting science at museums and a dedicated art and science programme complete with artistic residences and exhibitions. This presentation will illustrate a few examples of alternative ways for communicating science that provides societal context in an inclusive manner to address societal challenges.

How to cite: Thielen-del Pozo, J., Eeckels, A., Hearn, P., Jensen-Foreman, A.-M., and Glovicko, J.: Talking WITH not talking AT, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22366,, 2020.

YouTube is the world's second largest search engine, and serves as a primary source of entertainment for billions of people around the world. Yet while science communication on the website is more popular than ever, discussion of climate science is dominated by - largely scientifically untrained - individuals who are skeptical of the overwhelming scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real. Over the past ten years I have built up an extensive audience communicating science - and climate science in particular - on YouTube, attempting to place credible science in the forefront of the discussion. In this talk I will discuss my approach to making content for the website, dissect successful and less successful projects, review feedback from my audience, and break down my process of converting research into entertaining, educational video content.

How to cite: Clarke, S.: Climate science and YouTube: deniers, memes, and Trojan horses, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22696,, 2020.

EGU2020-22695 | Orals | US4

Carbon Brief

Leo Hickman

Leo Hickman will outline his experience of communicating climate change as a journalist and author. Leo has edited the award-winning Carbon Brief since 2015. The UK-based website specialises in publishing clear, data-driven articles and graphics to help improve the understanding of climate change, both in terms of the science and the policy response. Before joining Carbon Brief, Leo spent 16 years at the Guardian as a features journalist and editor covering the environment, particularly climate change. Leo has also authored several books, including "Will Jellyfish Rule the World?" (Puffin, 2009), which explained climate change to Key Stage 3 children.

How to cite: Hickman, L.: Carbon Brief, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22695,, 2020.

EGU2020-22660 | Orals | US4

The future will be both better and worse than we imagine

Tamsin Edwards

There is no longer such a thing as business as usual. We have put some climate policies in place, taking actions, making progress. Research shows the predicted warming in the year 2100 taking into account those policies: around 3.3 degrees of warming. And we also have pledges for what we intend to do, including those for the Paris Agreement. These would take us a little lower, to 3 degrees. You can watch how these predictions change, over the coming months and years.

The future, then, is already better than we imagined it would be, but still worse than we imagine it could be. And each new policy and pledge will bring the future further down the scale, towards the Paris Agreement targets of 2 and 1.5 degrees. There would still be serious consequences at this level of warming. But climate change is not something that is simply won or lost. It is an arc that we can choose to bend toward justice. We will all be both heroes and villains, and wake up the next day and be heroes again. We will create our story, word by word, deed by deed.

How to cite: Edwards, T.: The future will be both better and worse than we imagine, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22660,, 2020.

Human-caused climate change is arguably the greatest threat we face as a civilization. Efforts to attack and deny the scientific evidence have constituted a major impediment to action over the past two decades. At a time when we appear to be moving past outright denial of the problem, we face a multi-pronged strategy by polluting interests to distract, deflect, attack, and divide the climate activist community. This involves, among other things, (a) efforts to deflect attention from systemic change and regulatory policy solutions to personal behavior,  (b) doomist framing that disempowers us by exaggerating the threat in such a way as to make catastrophic changes now seem unavoidable, and (c) the promotion of false solutions that seek to enable the continued burning of fossil fuels that is at the very root of the problem. I will discuss what we can do to fight back, emphasizing the importance of both urgency AND agency in efforts to save our planet.

How to cite: Mann, M.: How to Win The New Climate War: The Plan to Take Back Our Planet from the Polluters, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22288,, 2020.

US5 – The future of Earth and Planetary Observations from Space

Contribution to water cycle and climate studies, disaster mitigation, and various operational applications, including weather forecast, fishery, and agriculture, is a big target of JAXA’s Earth observation missions. JAXA launched the Greenhouse-gases Observing SATellite-2 (GOSAT-2), which is a successor of the GOSAT satellite, in October 2018. GOSAT series satellites are a joint mission among Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan (MOE), National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) and JAXA to provide accurate measurement of greenhouse-gases for researchers and policymakers. Another series of satellites that contribute to water cycle and climate studies is the Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM). It consists of two satellite missions, GCOM-W (Water) and GCOM-C (Climate) and aims to provide comprehensive information of the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) of atmosphere, ocean, land, cryosphere and ecosystem by combined information of optical and microwave imagers. The GCOM-W satellite carries the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2 (AMSR2), a successor of AMSR-E on NASA’s EOS Aqua satellite, to monitor water-related variables. On the other hand, the GCOM-C satellite carries the Second-generation Global Imager (SGLI) to monitor various parameters related to carbon cycle and energy budget. In December 2019, we started development of the Global Observation SATellite for Greenhouse gases and Water Cycle (GOSAT-GW) that is a joint mission of AMSR2 follow-on (AMSR3) and GOSAT-2 follow-on to be launched in Japanese Fiscal Year (JFY) 2023. AMSR3 will be almost equivalent capability to that of AMSR2 except additional high-frequency channels (166 & 183 GHz) for snowfall retrievals and numerical weather prediction. For water cycle studies, JAXA and NASA led the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission under international partnership. JAXA provides the Dual-frequency Precipitation Radar (DPR) onboard the GPM core observatory and GCOM-W for the GPM mission to provide high-frequent and accurate global precipitation observation. One of its major outcomes is the Global Satellite Mapping of Precipitation (GSMaP), which is a set of hourly merged-satellite global precipitation products. In June 2019, we have released GSMaP realtime version (GSMaP_NOW) with 0-hour latency over global area, while near-real-time version (GSMaP_NRT) is 4-hour latency. GSMaP is especially used in areas where ground observation capability is not enough, such as isolated islands and developing countries, for heavy rainfall and tropical cyclone monitoring. For land monitoring and disaster mitigation, including flood plain detection, JAXA currently operates the Advanced Land Observing Satellite-2 (ALOS-2) carrying Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Two ALOS series satellites are waiting for launch in near future -- ALOS-3 carrying advanced optical imager to be launched in JFY2020 and ALOS-4 carrying advanced SAR is to be launched in JFY2021. Combination use of multi-satellite and numerical models is one of JAXA’s targets to expand satellite data utilization in various fields. JAXA collaborates with Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) in various operational applications. The recent outcome in this collaboration is that JMA will start operational data assimilation of Himawari-8 aerosol products into model for aerosol forecasts in January 2020. Further collaboration with model communities are underway to utilize multi-satellite data into various models for better monitoring and forecasts.


How to cite: Hirabayashi, T.: Contribution of JAXA’s Earth Observation Missions to Water Cycle and Climate Studies, Disaster Mitigation, and Operational Applications, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19165,, 2020.

EGU2020-22140 | Orals | US5

The Future of Earth Observation from Space

Josef Aschbacher

Earth Observation is currently undergoing a major transformation driven by elements like data analytics, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, and Big Data. Moreover, there are new actors – often from outside the traditional space sector –, new technical mission concepts and new ways of financing space projects. The presentation will give an overview of ESA’s Earth Observation programme with its major ‘pillars’, and its evolution in regard to the trends above. The presentation will also highlight the impacts of ESA’s Ministerial Conference in December 2019 that yielded excellent results for ESA in general and for Earth observation in particular. A special focus will be put on opportunities and perspectives of international cooperation.


How to cite: Aschbacher, J.: The Future of Earth Observation from Space, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22140,, 2020.

EGU2020-22280 | Orals | US5

Future of Earth observation at NASA

Sandra Cauffman

Earth Observing satellites provide a wide angle lens with which to view our home planet in a systematic manner. Significant progress has been made over the last few decades in understanding the Earth as a system and the impact of human actions. Remote global observations provide knowledge that can inform policies of specific features of our world in transition. As the stakes get higher with more population, infrastructure, and higher stress on ecosystems, how are leading space agencies around the world taking on this challenge at both the national, regional and international level?  How is the advent of improved access to space and of new constellations of capable, low cost buses enabling new ways of investigating the Earth and providing operational services? Further, the data from this armada of spacecraft being returned to Earth are considerably beyond any level ever experienced previously. How are the agencies addressing this challenge of processing and storing unpresented levels of data and getting it in the hands of the decision makers? How well are the international coordination bodies working? Senior representatives from various space agencies will participate in this special session, to address the issues mentioned above and discuss the path forward.

How to cite: Cauffman, S.: Future of Earth observation at NASA, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22280,, 2020.

EGU2020-22168 | Orals | US5

NASA Planetary Science and European Partnerships and Participations

Doris Daou and Lori S. Glaze

NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) and space agencies around the world are collaborating on an extensive array of missions exploring our Solar System. Planetary science missions are conducted by some of the most sophisticated robots ever built and international collaboration is an essential part of what we do. NASA has always encouraged international participation on our missions both strategic (i.e., Mars 2020) and competitive (i.e., Discovery and New Frontiers) and other Space Agencies have reciprocated and invited us to participate in their missions.

More specifically, NASA has had a long and fruitful collaboration with ESA on their planetary missions. Currently, NASA is involved in the BepiColombo mission (1 instrument in the Italian Space Agency’s instrument suite), and the Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer mission (one instrument and parts of two others). In concert with ESA’s Mars missions we have an instrument on the Mars Express mission, the orbit-ground communications package on the Trace Gas Orbiter (launched in 2016) and part of the DLR/Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer instruments going onboard the ExoMars Rover. Likewise, NASA’s Mars 2020 rover includes several international payload elements: Spain’s Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA); Norway’s Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX); and the US SuperCam has a significant contribution from France.

In 2016, ESA released a call for proposals in their 5th Medium-sized mission class (referred to as M5) as part of their Cosmic Vision program. ESA once again has been tremendous in welcoming possible cooperative proposals with NASA as in the EnVision orbital mission to Venus. EnVision would perform high-resolution radar mapping and atmospheric studies of Venus.

International partnerships are an excellent, proven way of amplifying the scope and sharing the science results of a mission otherwise implemented by an individual space agency. Looking forward, NASA’s Planetary Science Division is initiating the next Decadal Survey, led by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Mathematics, that will identify priorities for strategic missions in the decade 2023-3032.  There are many exciting destinations within the solar system and these missions will provide new opportunities for international partnership.

The exploration of the Solar System is uniquely poised to bring planetary scientists, worldwide, together under the common theme of understanding the origin, evolution, and bodies of our solar neighborhood. NASA’s Planetary Science Division provides the planetary science community with opportunities to include international participation on NASA missions. NASA's Discovery and New Frontiers Programs provide U.S. scientists the opportunity to assemble international teams and design exciting, focused planetary science investigations that would deepen the knowledge of our Solar System. The most recent call for Discovery ideas will soon announce selections as part of Step 1 of the competitive process.  NASA continues to encourage the international science community to take full advantage of the many opportunities provided.

How to cite: Daou, D. and Glaze, L. S.: NASA Planetary Science and European Partnerships and Participations, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22168,, 2020.

EGU2020-22340 | Orals | US5

Planetary and Earth science in Russian space programs

Anatoli Petrukovich, Lev Zelenyi, Oleg Korablev, Igor Mitrofanov, and Evgeny Lupyan

We review current status of Russian space research in the fields of planetary and Earth science. In the recent years planetary experiments of Space Research Institute are flown onboard six European and US missions at Mars, Venus, Moon and Mercury. In addition, two instruments are onboard Exomars-2016, a joint project with ESA. The second Exomars launch is expected in 2020. Extensive Russian lunar program includes launches of two landers and one orbiter in 2021,2024,2025, also with ESA cooperation. In more distant future the new Venus program is shaping up. Besides that Space Research Institute conducts extensive Earth observation research, mostly targeted at natural systems monitoring. 

How to cite: Petrukovich, A., Zelenyi, L., Korablev, O., Mitrofanov, I., and Lupyan, E.: Planetary and Earth science in Russian space programs, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22340,, 2020.

EGU2020-22656 | Orals | US5

Solar System Missions in the ESA Scientific Program

Günther Hasinger

After the successful outcome of the Space19+ ministerial meeting in Seville we are looking forward to exciting years, with important new missions in the ESA Scientific Programme. Solar Orbiter in Spring 2020, the Exomars Rover in Summer 2020 and JUICE in Summer 2022 are flagship ESA missions in the Cosmic Vision programme. But there are also a number of smaller and missions of opportunity, like Proba-3 in 2021, the ESA/China mission SMILE in 2023, and JAXA Martian Moon Explorer mission MMX in 2024. And in 2028 there will be the exciting Flexi mission Comet Interceptor to an as yet undiscovered pristine comet or even another interstellar visitor. I will review these missions together with the exciting science from our current fleet of solar system missions.

How to cite: Hasinger, G.: Solar System Missions in the ESA Scientific Program, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-22656,, 2020.

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