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Dr. Victor Venema

Dr. Victor Venema


Meteorological institute
University of Bonn
Auf dem Huegel 20
53121 Bonn, Germany

Email: Victor.Venema@uni-bonn.de

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Date Publication
15.11.2007 Article: Two adaptive radiative transfer schemes for numerical weather prediction models
V. Venema, A. Schomburg, F. Ament, and C. Simmer
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 7, 5659-5674
SRef: 1680-7324/acp/2007-7-5659
12.09.2006 Article: Statistical characteristics of surrogate data based on geophysical measurements
V. Venema, S. Bachner, H. W. Rust, and C. Simmer
Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, 13, 449-466
SRef: 1607-7946/npg/2006-13-449
26.07.2006 Article: A Stochastic Iterative Amplitude Adjusted Fourier Transform algorithm with improved accuracy
V. Venema, F. Ament, and C. Simmer
Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, 13, 321-328
SRef: 1607-7946/npg/2006-13-321

Latest Blog Posts

  • 25.03.2018: Separation of feedback, publishing and assessment of scientific studies

    I once asked a friend and colleague about a wrong sentence in one of his scientific articles. He is a smart cookie and should have known better than that. His answer was that he knew it was wrong, but the peer reviewer requested that claim. The error was small and completely inconsequential for the results; no real harm was done. I wondered what I would have done.

    Peer review has two roles: it provides detailed feedback on your work and it advises the editor on whether the article is good enough for the journal. This feedback normally makes the article better, but it is somewhat uncomfortable to discuss with reviewers who have a lot of power because of their second role.

    My experience is that normally you can argue your case with a reviewer. Still to reach a common understanding can take an additional round of review, which means that the paper is published a few months later. In the worst case, not agreeing with a reviewer can mean that the paper is rejected and you have to submit to another journal.

    It is quite common for reviewers to abuse their power by requesting their work to be cited (more). Mostly this is somewhat subtle and the citation more or less relevant. However, an anonymous reviewer once requested that I'd cite four article by one author, one of which was somewhat relevant. That does not hurt the article, but is disgusting power abuse and rewards bad behavior. My impression is that these are not all head fakes; when I write a critical review I make sure not to ask for citations to my work, but recommend some articles of colleagues instead. Multiple colleagues, not to get them into trouble.

    Grassroots journals

    I have started a grassroots journal on homogenization of climate data and only recently started to realize that this also produces a valuable separation of feedback, publishing and assessment of scientific studies. That by itself can lead to a much more healthy and productive quality control system.

    A grassroots journal assesses published articles and manuscripts in a field of study. One could also see it as a continually up-to-date review article. At least two reviewers write a review on the strengths and weaknesses of an article, everyone can comments on parts of the article and the editors write a synthesis of the reviews. A grassroots journal does not publish the articles themselves, but collects articles published everywhere.

    Every article also gets a quantitative assessment. This is similar to the current estimate of how important an article is by the journal it was able to get into. However, it does not reward people submitting the articles to a too big journal, hoping to get lucky, making unnecessary work for double reviews. For example, the publisher Frontiers reviews 2.4 million manuscripts and has to bounce about 1 million valid papers.

    In case of traditional journals your manuscript only has to pass the threshold at the time of publishing. With an up-to-date rolling review of grassroots journals articles are rewarded that are of lasting value.

    I would not have minded making a system without a quantitative assessment, but there are real differences between articles, the reader needs to prioritize their reading and funding agencies would likely not accept grassroots journals as replacement of the current system without it.

    That is the final aim: getting rid of the current publishing system that holds science back. That grassroots journals immediately provide value is hopefully what makes the transition easier.

    The more assessments made by grassroots journals are accepted the less it matters where you publish. Now there is typically one journal, sometimes two, that have the right topic and prestige. This near-monopolistic market leads to Elsevier making profits of 30 to 50% and it suppresses innovation.

    Another symbol of the monopolistic market are the manuscript submission systems, which combine the worst of pre-internet paper submissions (every figure a separate file, captions in a separate file) with the internet age adage "save labor costs by letting your customers do the work" (adding the captions a second time when uploading a figure with a neat pop-up for special characters).

    Separation of powers

    Publishing is easy nowadays. ArXiv does this for about one dollar per manuscript. Once scientists can freely chose where to publish, the publishers will have to provide good services at reasonable costs. The most important service would be to provide a broad readership by publishing Open Access.

    Maybe it will even go one step further and scientists will simply publish their manuscript on a pre-print server and tell the relevant grassroots journals where to find it. Such scientists likely still would like get some feedback from their colleagues on the manuscript. Several initiatives are currently springing up to review manuscripts before they are submitted to journals, for example, Peer Community In (PCI). Currently PCI makes several rounds until the reviewers "endorse" a manuscript so that in principle a journal could publish such a manuscript without further peer review.

    With a separate independent assessment of the published article there would no longer be any need for the "feedback peer reviewers" to give their endorsement. (It doesn't hurt.) The authors would have much more freedom to decide whether the changes peer reviewers suggest are actually improvements. The authors, and not the reviewers, would decide when the manuscript is finished and can be published. If they make the wrong decisions that would naturally be reflected in the assessment. If they do not not add four citations to a peer reviewer that would not be any problem.

    There is a similar initiative in the life sciences called APPRAISE, but this will only review manuscripts published on pre-print servers. Once the journals are gone, this will be the same, but I feel that grassroots journals add more immediate value by reviewing all articles on one topic. Just like a review article should review the entire literature and not a random part.

    A vigorously debated topic is whether peer reviews should be open or closed. Recently ASAPbio had this discussion and comprehensively summarized the advantages and disadvantages (well worth reading). Both systems have their strengths and I do not see one of them winning.

    This discussion may change when we separate feedback and assessment. Giving feedback is mostly doing the authors a favor and could more easily be done in the open. Rather than cumbersome month-long rounds of review, it would be possible to simply write an email and pick up the phone and clarify contentious points. On the other hand anonymity makes it easier to give an honest assessment and I expect this part to be mostly performed anonymously. The editors of a grassroots journal determine what is published and can thus ensure that no one abuses their anonymity.

    The future

    Concluding, in a decade a researcher writes an article and asks their colleagues for feedback. Once the manuscript no longer changes that much it is send to an independent proof reading service. Another firm or person takes care of the lay-out and ensures that the article can still be read in a century by making versions using open standards.

    The authors decide when their manuscript is ready to be published and can be uploaded to the article repository. They send a notice to the journals that cover the topic. Journal A makes an assessment. Journals B and C copy this assessment, while journal D also uses it, but requests an additional review for a part that is important to them and they write another synthesis.

    Readers add comments to the article using web annotations and the authors reply to them with clarifications. Also authors can add comments to share new insights on what was good and bad about the article.

    Two years later a new study shows that one of the choices of the article was not optimal. This part was important for journal C and D and they update their assessment. The authors decide that it is relatively easy to redo their article with a better choice and that the article is sufficiently important to put in some work, they upload the updated study to the repository and the journals update their assessment.

    Related reading

    APPRAISE (A Post-Publication Review and Assessment In Science Experiment). A similar idea to grassroots journals, but they only want to to review pre-prints and will thus only review part of the literature. See also NPR on this initiative.

    A related proposal by Gavin Schmidt: Someone C.A.R.E.S. Commentary And Replication in Earth Science (C.A.R.E.S.). Do we need a new venue for post-publication comments and replications?

    * Photo of scientific journals by Tobias von der Haar used under a Attribution 2.0 Generic (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) license.
    * Graph of publishing costs by Dave Gray used under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.

    Source: Variable Variability

  • 13.02.2018: I did not start the war

    As I work in Bonn, I sometimes represent Germany, for example in the World Meteorological Organisation or in EU science projects. A colleague once noted that I am fond of making clear that while I represent Germany, I am actually Dutch.

    Could be, at least I like the slogan "I did not start the war". The Second World War. It is a truism, but Germans are not allowed to say so. So, I say it on their behalf.

    In addition Germans are still treated as if they are personally responsible. So, it is more pleasant if people know that I am not German.

    My father traveled from The Netherlands to Austria on his motorbike. Admittedly long ago, not too long after the war, when he was young. At the border between France and Germany the customs were not willing to speak German, until they saw his Dutch passport, then they were suddenly able to speak German fluently.

    Before I moved to Germany in 2000 I told a few friends that it was nice that the hostile feelings against Germans were over. They each time looked at me like I was from another planet. They were right. I must have had a sheltered life with nice friends.

    More recently I went to Dublin for a week of fun at the European Meteorological Society meeting and stayed at a bed and breakfast. As far as I can see I got the worst room. The landlord asked a few times whether I was German. Maybe because the answer, "No I am Dutch", was too much of a shock to process in one time. The toilet was next to my pillow, a naked light bulb, the backside of the water basin was unfinished lumber. The other rooms looked better and were not all occupied during the week. When reserving a room a normally ask for a firm mattress, maybe I should add: "I did not start the war".

    Fascism: I sometimes fear... (by Michael Rosen)

    I sometimes fear that
    people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
    worn by grotesques and monsters
    as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.

    Fascism arrives as your friend.
    It will restore your honour,
    make you feel proud,
    protect your house,
    give you a job,
    clean up the neighbourhood,
    remind you of how great you once were,
    clear out the venal and the corrupt,
    remove anything you feel is unlike you...

    It doesn't walk in saying,
    "Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution."

    It made no sense to me when my first German language teacher said she felt personally responsible for the war. She was born well after the war. But if people treat you like you are guilty, it is easy to start feeling guilty. We are social animals after all. In a survey published today one in ten Germans agreed with the thesis: "Even if I did not do anything bad myself, I feel guilty for the Holocaust".

    This shows the power of social contagion, when they way Germans are treated can make 10% believe something that is impossible. How much larger will this effect be in cases were it is hard to judge who is right, the person or many others. If people treat you badly because of the way you look, it is too easy to say you should just ignore that. It will leave its trace.

    Ironically racists often call for an end to the shame and blame culture, while their counterparts in other countries produce it. While they are technically right that it is not logical to feel guilty, what they actually want is that people stop remembering what the consequences of their ideology of hate and conflict are.

    Fortunately in the same survey 79% say it is important to teach history in school. The two main reasons for this are to learn about the damages caused by racism (79%) and to prevent a return of national socialism (84%). More than half reported to have victims of the Second World War in their families.

    Not mentioned in the survey, but the independent public media are also very important. They feature German history regularly and show emotional interviews of victims of the Nazi regime. The most important lesson of such interviews may be that the Nazis did not start with the Holocaust, they started with denigration, discrimination, deportation and parades. It ended with the Holocaust.

    Free public transport

    In complete different German news today: The federal government is thinking about free public transport, starting with experiments in Bonn & four other cities, to reduce private transport & fight air pollution. They revealed these plans in a letter to the EU on how they will keep air pollution below the limits they themselves agreed to.

    * Top photo Cochem with Reichsburg shot by Roger W, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.

    Source: Variable Variability

  • 01.02.2018: GCOS Newletter on designing a GCOS Surface Reference Network

    Outcomes of AOPC Task Team, 1-3 November 2017, Maynooth, Ireland
    Article in the GCOS Newsletter of January 2018

    While not perfect, the in-situ component of the global climate observing system has been broadly successful in contributing to the detection, attribution, and monitoring of climate change. Measurements of surface meteorological parameters have been made for more than a century in many parts of the world and, together with satellites and other in-situ systems, have provided the evidence for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to conclude in its last two assessment reports that the evidence for a warming world is unequivocal (IPCC, 2013).

    However, the demands on the climate observing systems are ever increasing and a more rigorous assessment of future climate change and variability is needed. This can most plausibly be delivered by a coordinated metrological reference-measurement approach to such monitoring at a sufficient subset of global sites. The principles for such a reference network are traceability, comparability, representativeness, long-term operational viability, full data and metadata retention and open data provision. Reference networks currently exist that have proven value, like the US Climate Reference Network (USCRN), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Reference Upper Air Network (GRUAN), and Cryonet stations from WMO’s Global Cryosphere Watch.

    At the request of GCOS Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate (AOPC) and the WMO Commission for Climatology, a paper outlining the steps toward establishing a GCOS Surface Reference Network (GSRN) was developed and has now been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Climatology. In 2017, the AOPC agreed to the creation of a 2 year task team whose main objective is to assess the feasibility of a global surface reference network by identifying the major stakeholders, the benefits, the practicality of doing this, and the costs.

    The task team, chaired by Howard Diamond (US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Oceanic and Atmospheric Research NOAA/OAR, Air Resources Laboratory) includes experts from the metrology community, WMO’s CIMO, Numerical Weather Prediction, the climate community, other GCOS networks, and met for the first time from 1 to 3 November 2017 at Maynooth University, Ireland. The meeting agreed that the primary benefits of a GCOS Surface Reference Network would be:

    • A key step in improving the long-term accuracy, stability and comparability of the observations and result in an improved confidence in detecting the global increase in temperature, as well as the link to historical records.
    • Rigorously characterized time series from these sites will lead to the development of a better understanding of important climate related processes, including extreme events, and key to assessing mitigation effectiveness.
    • Observations from a GSRN can be used to improve measurements made at other, non-reference site, and co-located reference quality measurements will provide a valuable data set for the calibration and validation of satellite data.
    • New techniques and equipment can be tested at the reference sites which will also provide good locations to base future field campaigns. In addition to WMO Members contributing measurement sites, a key catalyst for the success of the GSRN would be the establishment of a global lead center structure to help ensure the adequate coordination of all GSRN activities.
    The task team will produce a concept note that will be used to get feedback from the Members on whether there is interest from their country in participating, and it will include a proposed list of steps to follow in the GSRN implementation.

    Related post

    A stable global climate reference network. Some first thoughts on how to design and organise such a global reference network.

    * Top photo: US Climate Reference Network.
    * Last photo of automatic weather station at Cape Morris Jesup, the northernmost point of mainland Greenland, taken by the technicians of the Danish weather service and kindly offered by Ruth Mottram.

    Source: Variable Variability

  • 21.01.2018: The variability diet

    'Tis the time for dieting. Let me jump on the band wagon with a completely new diet that fits to this blog: the variability diet.

    Antipodes can skip this post or stay for some interesting science ideas; countries in the Southern Hemisphere apparently do not have a seasonal cycle in dieting.

    The National Weight Control Registry is proud they found ten thousand people who managed to keep the weight off for a longer time. Ten thousand people world wide sounds to me more as if most diets hopelessly fail on the long term.

    It could naturally be that the obesity epidemic in the West is an epidemic of sloth, a failure to count calories as well as lions do.

    Oh, wait.

    I would venture: we need fresh ideas.

    Most diets are defined by averages. The right amount of calories, the right macro-nutrients (carbs, fats and proteins), in the right number of portions per day. In observational studies, scientists compute the average number of calories eaten and calories burned, they compute the average fractions of every macro-nutrient, maybe even the average amount of vegetables and animal foods eaten, the average number of hours of sleep, the averages of this and the average of that. And even if they do not explicitly average, their analysis methods (for example, multiple regressions) will only notice differences in the average.

    The main exception from prescribing the averages of a diet is the advice to eat a diverse diet or to eat many different colours of fruits and vegetables. For example in the USA one recommendation is: "A healthy eating pattern includes: A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other."

    To be honest, "a variety of" is a somewhat unsophisticated way to describe variability. First of all it is rather unspecific. Other formulations often ask for more variability, but just like for the average, you can have too much or too little variability and an optimal amount in the middle. But lets be generous and assume the typical variability is way below optimal.

    The biggest problem is that for variability you always need to define an averaging (time) scale. The red and the blue symbols in the figure below have the same total variability (a standard deviation of one). However, as the thick line shows, the blue line has much more variability on longer averaging time scales, while the blue values vary less from day to day.

    Daily eating a wide variety of vegetables of vegetables from all over the world is nowadays possible and produces a lot of variability on short time scales, like the red symbols. But on long time scales it lacks variability ($). My father complained that in his youth he had to eat beans for weeks on end when the beans in the garden were ready for harvest. That was a diet with not much variability on short time scales, but a lot on longer time scales, like the blue symbols.

    There is a diet that mimics this, the seasonal diet. For out of touch city folks like me, there is even a seasonal food calendar; I have one on the inside of a kitchen cabinet. This diet is mostly promoted as a diet that saves you money and it good for the environment. Sometimes it is advised for ensuring the food is healthier and tastier because fresher, but maybe the variability is also helpful.

    What is the right time scale? I do not know. One reason to write this post is the hope that a nutritional scientist is inspired to take variability into account. When it comes to carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice) it may be good to once in a while empty the (glycogen; animal starch) stores and train your body to also use fat for fuel. The liver has about 10 to 12 hours of glycogen in store. I wonder whether this is related to the German advice not to eat after 6pm or the Italians who eat a lot in the evening, but hardly eat any breakfast. These two national recommendations seem to conflict, but have a fasting period of over 12 hours in common.

    Intermittent fasting seems to be an effective way to lose weight, at least for people able to do so. There are many varieties. Some people only eat during a few hours a day, every day. Others once in a while do not eat for 24 hours (breakfast to breakfast; skip lunch and diner) or 36 hours (diner to breakfast). I like this method, at least in summer because I get cold after some time when my metabolism goes down. Women often do not like it.

    "Ancient humans ate a large variety of foods, which is why we are adapted to so many. Human variation is high though, since our lineage has become so populous and geographically wide-ranging."
    Melissa McEwen

    Many diets have a honeymoon period of one or two months in which they work like a charm (raw food diet; low carb diet). A blog called 180 Degree Health claims to have success by breaking all the healthy eating rules. Apparently diametrically opposed diets work in the beginning. If you are lucky your diet works for about half a year, but typically the weight and the health problems come back.

    From the variability point of view a new diet is initially a change, variability, in the long-term a diet often makes your food more monotonous.

    This honeymoon period suggests that another interesting time scale is a month to half a year. This honeymoon period was what provoked my to start thinking about a variability diet. Why stick with a diet for a year, why not try 12 diets for a month and benefit from the honeymoon period 12 times?

    The honeymoon period is also why diet studies without a control group are a problem.

    Randomized Control Trials, difference in success after 6 months, similar and less success after 12 months.

    Variability in sports

    What is the right time scale? Maybe all of them!? Nature is characterized by variability on all time (and spatial) scales.

    The importance of variability is broadly acknowledged in sports and sports training uses several time scales, from hours to years. Sports training is based on periodization. A simple [[periodization scheme]] for a beginning runner could be: one has microcycles of one week (one hard run a week), mesocycles of about one month (one more relaxed week a month) and macrocycles of a year (preparation, competition and transition (rest) phase). If you add to this a 4-year cycle for Olympic athletes and a career plan for a professional athlete you start to think in variability on all time scales.

    In weight training a similar concept is to include a deloading period/week once in a while in which you take it easy, which helps to keep getting stronger in the long run. Weight training fans can talk for hours about how fast exercises should be performed, how many repetitions, how many sets and how often per week one should go to the gym. There we have four more time scales. Five if you make one exercise a week extra hard.

    Intermittent fasting could be seem as weight training. A fruitarian diet may be the equivalent of lying in bed all day; if you can handle the sugar load, fruits normally eaten hardly contain any anti-nutrients you body needs to defend itself against. On the other side, a very low carb may for some be the equivalent of running a marathon every day. If you think in terms of exercise, you would set a stressor by eating very low carb for a short period and then recover and become stronger while eating a mixed diet including fruits. No idea whether this specific example works, but I wonder why people do not think in these terms when in comes to nutrition.

    Reasons why variability may be healthy

    A healthy gut microbiome, that is the ecosystem in your intestines, is important for health and weight loss. A human has more mass (and stores) than a microbe. Missing nutrients thus hurt microbes more than us and fasting gives our immune system the possibility to fight bad germs more easily. This is a reason why we often do not feel like eating when ill. This also suggests that the microbiome may be the most sensitive to variability and the main target of a variability diet.

    The biodiversity of the microbiome is linked to being overweight. The causal relationship may go both ways. Transferring the microbiome of a fat mouse to a skinny mouse makes it fatter, but losing weight also changes the microbiome. The obesity epidemic and other metabolic deceases in the West may be related to a reduced intestinal biodiversity in the West. This biodiversity has a seasonal cycle and the diversity increases on a calorie restricted diet, which gives hope this may be reversible.

    Microbes are an ecosystem and their composition will as such highly likely be determined by variability (pioneer populations, tidal plain versus salt marsh; cactuses need to be dry regularly to fight root decease; palm trees grow where the minimum temperature is above zero degrees, fire keeps the savanna open, ...).

    Variability also makes it easier for the body to learn which food does what to your body, especially when the short-period diets are relatively simple to get more long-term variability. Without paleo blogs, I would never have noticed that I do not handle grains well because I never went without grains for a long enough time to notice the difference.

    My experiment

    How could such a variability diet look like? Except for mimicking the seasonal diet your grandma ate, I have no idea. But this is the experiment I tried myself. I picked a period of 4 days and relatively large changes in diet. The 4 days nicely fit to my 2 times a week grocery shopping rhythm. These are some of the short-term diets I tried. The diets probably look funny to most because I do not eat grains.
    • 4 Days low protein: Fried potatoes, fruit meals and a large vegetable stew without meat, but with butter.
    • 4 Days low fat: I was at a conference and thought that low fat would be the easiest diet variety. Luckily they had lots of fish. Otherwise, vegetable omelets, meat, greens, yogurt with fruits.
    • 2 Days low carb: Brisket, fried eggs with cream, too much cashews, pork chops with red cabbage.
    • 7 Days deloading: Whatever my body wanted.
    • I started this 4 day period planning to eat yogurt and fruit. But after four meals, I just could not eat it any more and put in a low carb day. Repeat not to waste the fruits.
    • 6 Days a diet which was intended to be (almost) all animal products, but without dairy, so I used olive oil. That turned out to be too low carb, so I have added one fruit to most of my meals. This period was a bit longer than the others. It felt good and I made a delicious soup from whole 2-kg chicken, which takes some days to finish, if you would like to eat more than just soup.
    • 2 Transition days.
    • Started with a potato diet, with some vegetables and nut butter for taste. I mainly baked the potatoes in a little butter or olive oil. Plus about 2 fruits a day.
    • 5 Days low carb, mainly animal products, meat, eggs, heavy cream, butter, bacon, and one or two fruits a day. I had planned to do this one week, but my temperature started to drop (cold hands, feet and ears).
    • 3 Days my normal diet.
    • A low protein week: backed potatoes with butter and cream and fruits.
    • 2 Weeks of meetings and a conference in sugar and flour capital Vienna, These weeks I planned to eat whatever is available. To my surprise you can also get very good food in Vienna, lots of offal and grass-fed beef was available in the restaurants (Universitätsbräuhaus (University brewery, Unibräu) & Servitenwirt) I visited.
    • 1 Week my normal paleo-ish diet to recover from the meeting.
    • 3 Starch days, a lot of rice pudding (rice cooked in hay milk and butter, served with a little sugar and cinnamon or backed apples) and one normal meal.
    There are many more things one could try. Also trying longer periods would make sense.
    • High Acid (vinegar)
    • Low Acid (My mum used to have chalk for cooking, no idea how she used it.)
    • No dairy
    • Salty or salt free
    • Pig out
    • Salad, raw vegetables
    • Drink a lot, or little
    • A lot of vegetables or just empty carbs.
    • Avoid nightshades, citrus fruits or [[FODMAPs]]
    The good news is that I lost weight and felt good. The bad news is that I was not able to continue the diet. Inventing one or two new diets a week is exhausting. Thinking so much about what to eat is not my thing. So I went on with just occasional intermittent fasting (which requires no planning) and stopped doing that in winter.

    It would be great if there were a traditional fasting celebration in spring to remind you to start with intermittent fasting again.

    So you could say my n=1 experiment failed, because the main thing of a working diet is being able to stick to it. But maybe that is fixable (is there an app for that?) and people are different.

    It is some time ago I tried this. I think I will try again. 'Tis the time of the year.

    Related reading

    Is obesity bias evolutionary?

    Davenport and colleagues: Seasonal Variation in Human Gut Microbiome Composition.  PLoS ONE, 2014.

    Mark's daily apple: The Pitfalls and Limitations of Self-Experimentation.

    Are Diets Just Placebos?

    Dietary intervention impact on gut microbial gene richness. This study suggest that a low fat diet good for microbiome diversity. I could imagine it was just the change.

    Richness of human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers.

    Photos: Pumpkin recipes by zsoolt used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license; yellow snap beans photo taken at Farmers Market by Alice Henneman used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license; Pepper Medley by Jitze Couperus used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license; Grande Ronde Wild and Scenic River by the Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license; Fennel by Alice Henneman used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license; seasonal by Lisa Ouellette used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license; Sampler tray of Starbucks new Mocha Toffee Latte by urbanbohemian used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.

    Source: Variable Variability

  • 27.12.2017: Open science and science communication at #EGU18, the European Geophysical Union General Assembly

    The EGU General Assembly 2018 will bring 14,500 geoscientists from all over the world to Vienna. Those are not just climate scientists plotting to take over the world. Climatology is just one of 22 disciplines present. In my last post on interesting meetings for climate data scientists, I already pointed to the relevant scientific meetings taking place for climate data scientists.

    In this post I wanted to point to more general meetings (sessions, debates and short courses) that take place that may be of interest to climate scientists on Open Science, Science Communication, scientific publishing and climate change.

    Such big conferences have downsides, if you meet someone you will have to immediately get contact information because chances of meeting twice by accident are small. But an advantage is the attention for topics affecting many sciences, which do not take place at more focussed workshops and smaller meetings. There are sessions on nonlinear physics, which pose methodological problems almost all geoscientists have to deal with and I attended a lot as young scientist.

    There was also a time where I worked on many different topics, clouds, downscaling, homogenisation, where EGU was great for meeting all these communities in the same week. Lately I was mostly focussed on homogenisation and I have not visited EGU for some time. If you are mostly interested in one session, it is a long trip and an expensive conference for just a few talks and a poster session.

    Maybe I paid less attention to this in the past, but it looks like EGU nowadays has a very wide range of meetings on Open Data, Open Code, Open Science, Publishing, Citizen Science and Science Communication. As I am thinking of destroying a multi-billion dollar scientific publishing industry, those are topics very much on my mind. So I think I will visit EGU this year and have curated a list below of meetings that I think climate scientists could be interested in. (Descriptions are often shortened.)

    Bottom up scientific conferences

    Old rabbits, with which the Germans do not only mean our professorial chemistry bunny, can skip to the list, but for young scientists and outsiders I thought it would be interesting to explain how such a huge conference is organised. With 14,500 geoscientists writing more than 20,000 abstracts on the work they would like to present, it is impossible for the conference organisers to determine what will happen and the content of the conference is very much a bottom-up affair.

    The conference is split up in 22 disciplinary divisions and 13 divisions of general interest. One of these divisions is "Climate: Past, Present, Future". It could have been called "climate". Within these divisions you have dozens of so called "sessions", which are meetings on a specific topic.

    Everyone can propose a session. For this EGU there was a call-for-sessions with a deadline in September. As far as I know the only condition is that one of the organisers of the session needs to have a PhD.

    The next step is the call-for-abstracts, which for EGU2018 ends the 10th of January. Everyone can submit an abstract to a session of their liking describing what they would like to talk about. Again bottom-up.

    Normally abstracts are accepted. When I was organiser of the downscaling session, I could see the number and about 1% of the abstracts was rejected. They were mostly double or empty ones, where something had gone wrong during submission. If the organiser thinks there is something wrong with your work, the abstract is normally still accepted, but you will likely get a poster.

    Space is limited and the organiser can only select one third of the abstracts as talks, the others become posters. One time block with talks is one and a half hour in which six presentations can be given. The minimum size of a session is thus 18 abstracts. If your session gets less, the divisions leaders will merge your session with another one on a similar topic. Getting to 18 abstracts is the main barrier to organising your own session.

    Talks are best for broadcasting a new result, you reach more people, but there is only time for a few questions and thus little feedback. Posters are much better for feedback. As a convener an important criterion for making an abstract a talk or a poster is thus the stage the study seemed to be in. In the early phase feedback is important, if the work is finished broadcasting is important. In addition talks are typically for studies of more general interest and if it is known how well someone talks that is also an important consideration. Thus if you want to get talk, make sure to mention some results to make clear you are in the final stages and make sure the abstract is clear and contains no typos, which are proxies for being able to present your work clearly.

    The posters are EGU are typically well visited, especially the main evening poster session with free beer and wine to get people talking. Personally I spend most of my time at the posters. If a talk is not interesting, 15 precious minutes are gone, if a poster is not interesting you just walk along.

    Some sessions at EGU have a system been a talk and a poster called a PICO session. Here people present their work in a 2-minute talk and afterwards every presenter stands next to a touch screen with the presentation for detailed discussions. The advantage of a poster over a PICO is that the poster is up all day.

    Next to these sessions where people present their latest, you can also reserve rooms for splinter meetings to talk with each other or organise short courses. Many of the interesting meetings listed below are short courses.


    Great Debate 4 Low-risk geo-engineering: are techniques available now?

    With the Paris agreement, a majority of the world’s countries have agreed to keep anthropogenic warming below 2 °C. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change*, this target would require not only reducing all man-made greenhouse gas emissions to zero but also removal of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, or other type of geo-engineering techniques. The issue of geo-engineering has been heavily debated during the last years and we are therefore asking: Are the potential risks with geo-engineering sufficiently known? Are safe geo-engineering techniques available? Are they available now?

    This debate will address these questions of crucial importance for today’s society. It will discuss the most recent discoveries of geo-engineering techniques, their potential to reduce global warming and their potential risks.
    * I am not sure whether the IPCC states this. The scenarios that stay below 2 °C do have carbon dioxide removal. But scenarios are just that, scenarios, not predictions for the future.

    I think we urgently need to talk about a geo-intervention. There is no reason to wait until the Earth has warmed 2 °C, climate change does unacceptable damage right now.

    Great Debate 2 Hands on or hands off?

    A great debate on whether scientists should get involved in policy.
    In recent years there has been a growing distrust of experts in the public imagination which has been expressed in numerous debates from Brexit to the US presidential election. This gives rise to serious questions about the role of scientists in policy making and the political sphere. As geoscientists, our disciplines can have a real impact on the way humanity organises itself, so what should our role in that be? There are serious tensions here between the desire for our knowledge to have real impact and make a difference, the need for scientific detachment and objectivity, and respect for broader perspectives and for democracy itself.

    The key questions for this debate are:
    • Should geoscientists restrict themselves to knowledge generation and stay out of the policy world?
    • Or should we be getting involved and making change happen?
    • Should our voices as experts be heard louder than others?
    • Or does evidence-based policy undermine democracy?
    • Should we be hands on or keep our hands off
    Conferences are busy, so let me answer the questions so you do not have to go.

    Four of the five organisers are from the UK, but I hope that at least outside of Anglo-America it is uncontroversial for scientists to inform the public and policy makers of their findings. Scientists are humans and have human rights, including free speech. Germany and several other European countries have even set up climate service centres to facilitate the flow of information from science to groups that need to adapt to climatic changes.

    When it goes further, trying to convince people of certain solutions, please let go of your saviour complex, you will mostly like not achieve much. The way scientists are trained to think and communicate works well for science, but it is not particularly convincing outside of it. The chance you are good at convincing people is not much better than the chance of some random dude or grandma down the road.

    When it comes to informing people of our findings our voice should naturally be louder than that of groups misinforming people. In countries with a functioning media that does not need to be particularly loud. The opposite of evidence-based policy is misinformation-based policy. It is clearly less democratic and an abuse of power to set up a misinformation campaign to get your way politically because the public would not support your policies if they knew the truth. That is a violation of the self-determination of people to control their lives.

    Educational and Outreach Symposia Session Geoethics: ethical, social and cultural implications of geoscience knowledge, education, communication, research and practice

    Educational and Outreach Symposia Session Vision for Earth Observations in 2040

    Educational and Outreach Symposia is a surprising place for this session. I hope the right people find it.
    As both Earth science and technology advance while the expectations for the extent, quality, and timeliness of environmental information to be provided to the world’s population increases, the opportunity exists to harness the increased knowledge and capability to improve those products and services.

    The World Meteorological Organization has made important contributions in making the connection between knowledge and products in the areas of weather, water, and climate through its periodic visions, most recently the Vision for the Global Observing System (GOS) in 2025. The WMO is now in the process of doing an update for the 2040 time frame, taking into account both surface and space-based measurements.

    In this session, presentations that look ahead to the 2040 time frame and address expected observational capability that can realistically be expected to be available in that time frame, the expected demand for products and services informed by observational data that may be required for public use in that time frame, and mechanisms for connecting the two are all sought. Presentations for this session can address the full range of products for Earth System Science and are not limited to those addressed by the WMO in its development of the 2040 vision.
    I hope a global climate station reference network will be part of this vision for 2040.

    Interdisciplinary Session Big data and machine learning in geosciences

    This session aims to bring together researchers working with big data sets generated from monitoring networks, extensive observational campaigns and extremely detailed modeling efforts across various fields of geosciences. Topics of this session will include the identification and handling of specific problems arising from the need to analyze such large-scale data sets, together with and methodological approaches towards automatically inferring relevant patterns in time and space aided by computer science-inspired techniques. Among others, this session shall address approaches from the following fields:
    • Dimensionality and complexity of big data sets
    • Data mining and machine learning
    • Deep learning in geo- and environmental sciences
    • Visualization and visual analytics of big data
    • Complex networks and graph analysis
    • Informatics and data science

    Interdisciplinary PICO Session R’s deliberate role in Earth sciences

    Interdisciplinary Session Citizen Science in the Era of Big Data

    I wish they were a bit clearer on what kind of statistics specially for Big Data they are thinking of. I guess with lots of data it is easy to a result that is statistically significant, but physically negligibly small and not interesting. If you start analysing the data like a fishing expedition you should be extra careful not to fall into the multiple testing gap. It may be that they mean that with "Big Data approaches."
    Citizen Science (the involvement of laypeople in scientific processes) is gaining momentum in one discipline after another, thereby more and more data on biodiversity, earthquakes, weather, climate, health issues among others are being collected at different scales. In many cases these datasets contain huge amounts of data points collected by various stakeholders. There is definitely power in numbers of data points, however, the full potential of these datasets is not realized yet. Traditional statistics often fail to utilize these prospects. Statistics for Big Data can unveil patterns hidden that are otherwise would not be visible in datasets. Since Big Data approaches and citizen science are still developing fields, most projects miss Big Data analyses.

    In this session we are looking for successful approaches of working with Big Data in all fields of citizen science. We want to ask and find answers to the following questions:
    • Which Big Data approaches can be used in citizen science?
    • What are the biggest challenges and how to overcome them?
    • How to ensure data quality?
    • How to involve citizen scientists in Big Data Analyses, or is it possible?

    Scientific publishing

    Great Debate 1 Who pays for Scientific Publishing?

    This Great Debate will address the following questions: whether the profits generated by traditional publishers are justifiable and sustainable, to what extent scientists should contribute to the business, what are the current and future alternatives, and what role will preprint servers play?
    See also my recent post on the new preprint servers for the Earth Sciences and the townhall meeting below on self-archiving and EarthArXiv.

    Townhall Meeting EarthArXiv - a preprint server for the Earth Sciences

    Preprints and preprint servers are set to revolutionise and disrupt the standard approaches to scholarly publishing in the Earth Sciences. Yet, despite being widely-used and demonstrably successful in several other core science disciplines, the concept of preprints is new to many Earth Sciences. As a result, education is needed, such that Earth Scientists can benefit from the use of preprints and preprint servers. In this townhall we will introduce the general concepts of preprints and preprint servers, illustrating this with a demonstration of EarthArXiv, a community-led preprint server. We will also lead a general discussion of the use of preprints.

    PICO Session Future of (hydrological) publishing

    This session was one reason to write this blog post. It sounds really interesting and it is somewhat hidden by being in the Hydrology Division, where non-hydrologists may miss it. This could be a good place for my coming out with the idea of grassroots scientific publishing, where the scientific community takes back control of the quality assessment, beginning with making more informative open reviews of already published articles.
    In recent years, the current and future system of scientific publishing has been heavily debated. Most of these discussions focused on criticizing aspects of the current system such as:
    • the scientific publishing industry being one of the most profitable branches (Guardian, 2017) in media, because the scientific community basically does all the work for free
    • the peer review system being corrupted, or at least not functioning perfectly
    • the limited access to scientific papers due to its current business model
    • the surging number of submitted papers in recent years, especially with strict publication requirements for PhD candidates. This is putting more pressure on editors, reviewers and readership, and will decrease the visibility and impact of each publication.
    Times are changing, which can be seen in the increased demand and supply for open access publishing. However, we believe there might be plenty of other ideas and suggestions on how to improve scientific publishing. We invite and challenge everyone from the scientific community to propose ideas on how to do so in 5 minute presentations. Afterwards we will continue the discussion to answer questions such as: Who needs to pay for reading our work? Who should publish our work? How to cope with the excessive amount of submitted papers? Should we even be publishing?

    Short course What are the key problems in Climate Science?

    Climate science is a wide discipline that encompasses many of the EGU divisions, yet it is not always easy to know what the key problems are outside of your own specific area. ... During the short course, four climate experts from different divisions will introduce the “key problems” in their discipline, giving you an overview of what the current “hot topics” are. This course will provide you with enough background to venture into other divisions during the rest of the meeting. The floor will then be open for questions and discussion with our experts.
    With so many disciplines together EGU would theoretically be an important place to learn about problem in other fields and see how that fits to yours.

    However, the talks at EGU are very short, just 12 minutes. They do not leave much time for an introduction and are thus hard to follow for outsiders. It may be nice to extend the idea of this short course with just four hot topics to many more topics. Make it into a science slam, where you do not talk about your own work, but introduce the field in a way an outsider can get it.

    It looks like these four key problems and their speakers are selected by the conveners. A science slam could be open to all like the normal talks.

    Open Science

    Townhall Meeting OSGeo Townhall: Open Science demystified

    OSGeo is hosting this Townhall event to support the collaborative development of open source geospatial software by promoting sustainable Open Science within EGU. The Open Source Geospatial Foundation, or OSGeo, is a not-for-profit umbrella organization for Free and Open Source geospatial tools, including QGIS, gvSIG, GRASS GIS, Geoserver and many others.
    The paradigm of Open Science is based on the tiers Open Access, Open Data and Free Open Source Software (FOSS). However, the interconnections between the tiers remain to be improved. This is a critical factor to enable Open Science.
    This Townhall meeting reaches out all across EGU, especially welcoming Early Career Scientists, to network and discuss the current challenges and opportunities of the FOSS tier, including:
    • the easy approach to choosing software licences
    • recognition for scientific software: how to write a software paper?
    • software life cycle: who will maintain your software after you've finished your PhD and found a decent job?
    • funding software development: evolving software begun for your own research needs into something larger, that serves other's needs, and boosts your scientific reputation.
    • software reviews: how to set up software development such that other developers get involved in an early stage?
    • how can OSGeo help you with all these questions?

    Short course How to find and share data in geosciences?

    This short course aims to present some tips and tricks to accelerate the process of finding, processing and sharing the Geosciences data. We will also discuss the importance of open science and the opportunities it provides.

    Short course Writing reproducible geoscience papers using R Markdown, Docker, and GitLab

    I think code reproducibility is overrated. It is much stronger to make an independent reproduction and if the result depends on minute details being the same, it is mostly likely not a useful result. But the most of the same methods can be useful to speed up scientific progress. Sharing data and code is wonderful and helps other scientists get going faster. The code should thus preferably also run somewhere else.
    Reproducibility is unquestionably at the heart of science. Scientists face numerous challenges in this context, not least the lack of concepts, tools, and workflows for reproducible research in Today's curricula.
    This short course introduces established and powerful tools that enable reproducibility of computational geoscientific research, statistical analyses, and visualisation of results using R (http://www.r-project.org/) in two lessons:

    1. Reproducible Research with R Markdown
    Open Data, Open Source, Open Reviews and Open Science are important aspects of science today. In the first lesson, basic motivations and concepts for reproducible research touching on these topics are briefly introduced. During a hands-on session the course participants write R Markdown documents, which include text and code and can be compiled to static documents (e.g. HTML, PDF).
    R Markdown is equally well suited for day-to-day digital notebooks as it is for scientific publications when using publisher templates.
    To understand the rest of the description, I need to explain what Docker means:
    Docker is a tool that can package an application and its dependencies in a virtual container that can run on any Linux server. This helps enable flexibility and portability on where the application can run, whether on premises, public cloud, private cloud, bare metal, etc.
    Gitlab is a collaborative coding system based on the versioning system [[Git]]. Comparable to be probably better known [[GitHub]] and [[Bitbucket]].
    2. GitLab and Docker
    In the second lesson, the R Markdown files are published and enriched on an online collaboration platform. Participants learn how to save and version documents using GitLab (http://gitlab.com/) and compile them using [[Docker]] containers (https://docker.com/). These containers capture the full computational environment and can be transported, executed, examined, shared and archived. Furthermore, GitLab's collaboration features are explored as an environment for Open Science.
    P.S. Those homepages really suck big time, except if their goal is to scare away anyone who is a hard core coder and already knows the product. That is why I mostly linked to Wikipedia.

    Short course Building and maintaining R packages

    R is a free and open software that gained paramount relevance in data science, including fields of Earth sciences such as climatology, hydrology, geomorphology and remote sensing. R heavily relies on thousands of user-contributed collections of functions tailored to specific problems, called packages. Such packages are self-consistent, platform independent sets of documented functions, along with their documentations, examples and extensive tutorials/vignettes, which form the backbone of quantitative research across disciplines.

    This short course focuses on consolidated R users that have already written their functions and wish to i) start appropriately organizing these in packages and ii) keep track of the evolution of the changes the package experiences. While there are already plenty of introductory courses to R we identified a considerable gap in the next evolutionary step: writing and maintaining packages.

    Short course Improving statistical evaluations in the geosciences

    I love the (long) description of topics. Looks like just what a geo-scientist needs.

    During my studies I got lucky. Studying physics, the only statistics we got was some error propagation for lab work. Somehow I was not happy with that and I found a statistics course in the sociology department. There was not much mathematics, one student even asked what the dot between X and Y was. I did not even understand the question, but the teacher casually answered that that was the multiplication sign. Maybe out of need it focussed on the big ideas, on the main problems and typical mistakes people make. It looks like this could be a similar course, but likely with more math.

    Session Open Data, Reproducible Research, and Open Science

    Open Data and Open Science not only address publications, but scientific research results in general, including figures, data, models, algorithms, software, tools, notebooks, laboratory designs, recipes, samples and much more.

    Furthermore, they relate to the communication, review, and discussion of research results and consider changing needs regarding incentives, quality assessment, metrics, impact, reputation, grants and funding. Thus Open Data and Open Science encompass licensing, policy-making, infrastructures and scientific heritage, while safeguarding the dynamic nature of science and its evolving forms.
    The speakers present success stories, failures, best practices, solutions and introduce networks. It is aimed to show how researchers, citizens, funding agencies, governments and other stakeholders can benefit from Open Data, Reproducible Research, and Open Science in various flavors, acknowledging the drawbacks and highlighting the opportunities available for geoscientists.

    The session shall open a space to exchange experiences and to present either successful examples or failed efforts. Learning from others and understanding what to adopt and what to change are to help towards own undertakings and new initiatives, so that they become successes.

    Educational and Outreach Symposia Session Promoting and supporting equality of opportunities in geosciences

    Following the success of previous years, this session will be exploring reasons for the existence of underrepresentation of different groups (cultural, national and gender) by welcoming a debate with scientists, decision-makers and policy analysts related to geosciences.

    The session will be focusing on both remaining obstacles that contribute to underrepresentation and on best practices and innovative ideas to tackle obstacles.

    Science communication

    Short course Help! I'm presenting at a scientific conference!

    Sounds like this short course on giving a scientific presentation is tailored to newbies, although the seniors could also use some help. The seniors are hardest to change, they have learned that they have a highly motivated captive audience an that after a crappy talk everyone will pretend it was a good one.
    Presenting at a scientific conference can be daunting for early career scientist and established. How can you optimally take advantage of those 12 minutes to communicate your research effectively? How do you cope with nervousness? What happens if someone asks a question that you don’t think you can answer? Is your talk tailored to the audience?

    Giving a scientific talk is a really effective way to communicate your research to the wider community and it is something anyone can learn to do well! This short course provides the audience with hands-on tips and tricks in order to make your talk memorable and enjoyable for both speaker and audience.

    Short course Once upon a time in Vienna

    A short course on story telling, which is really important for readable prose. Although this blog post is probably not the best place to make this case.
    This is an interactive workshop led by a professional communications facilitator and writer, and academics with a range of earth science outreach experience. Through a combination of expert talks, informal discussion, and practical activities, the session will guide you through the importance of storytelling, how to find exciting stories within your own research, and the tools to build a memorable narrative arc.

    Short course Rhyme your research

    After seeing the term "experienced science-poet" I was forced to include this short course. They missed the opportunity to write the description as poem.
    Poetry is one of the oldest forms of art, potentially even predating literacy. However, what on Earth does it have to do with science? One is usually subjective and emotive, whilst the other (for the most part) is objective and empirical. However, poetry can be a very effective tool in communicating science to a broader audience, and can even help to enhance the long-term retention of scientific content. During this session, we will discuss how poetry can be used to make (your) science more accessible to the world, including to your students, your professors, your (grand)parents, and the general public.

    Writing a poem is not a particularly difficult task, but writing a good poem requires both dedication and technique; anyone can write poetry, but it takes practice and process to make it effective. In this session, experienced science-poets will discuss the basics of poetry, before encouraging all participants to grab a pen and start writing themselves. We aim to maximise empowerment and minimise intimidation. Participants will have the opportunity to work on poems that help to communicate their research, and will be provided with feedback and advice on how to make them more effective, engaging and empathetic. Those who wish to do so may also recite their creations during the “EGU Science Poetry Slam 2018”.

    Educational and Outreach Symposia Session Scientists, artists and the Earth: co-operating for a better planet sustainability

    As communicators and artists, ​we have a shared responsibility ​to raise awareness of the importance of planet sustainability. ​ Educating people ​in this regard has normally been executed through traditional educational method​s.​ ​But ​there is evidence that science-art collaborations play a vital role in contributing to this issue, through the emotional and human connection that the arts can provide. This session,​ already in​ its fourth edition, has presented interesting ​and progressive ​​art science collaborations across a number of disciplines focussed on representing Earth science content. ​We have witnessed that climate change, natural hazard, meteo​rol​o​gy, palaeontology, earthquakes and volcanoes, geology have ​been successfully presented through music, visual art, photography, theatre, literature, digital art, ​where the artists ​explored new ​practices and methods in their work with scientists. ​A fundamental part of all art is the presentation of their final work. Then we provide a related 'performative session', to allow artists perform excerpts of their work and fully reveal the impact of this work in communicating the bigger planet sustainability message. This related session is entitled “A pilot-platform for performing your Earth&Art work”​​.

    Short course Visualization in Earth Science: best practices

    This short course is co-organized by the ESSI division: Earth & Space Science Informatics.
    With constantly growing data sizes, both an effective visualization, as well as an efficient data analysis are getting more and more important. Different tasks in visualization require different visualization strategies. Geoscience data presents particular challenges, being typically large, multivariate, multidimensional, time-varying and uncertain. This short course aims at the presentation and demonstration of commonly available visualization tools, that are especially well suited to analyze earth science data sets. We at DKRZ -- the German Climate Computing Centre -- have many years of experience in the visualization of earth science data sets, and the goal of this workshop is to pass this knowledge on to you. We will show, explain and demonstrate the tools live, with which we work in our daily routine, and show you how to create effective and meaningful visualizations using free software.

    Short course How to cartoon science

    Short course Science for Policy: What is it and how can scientists become involved in policy processes?

    Organised by the EGU policy expert Chloe Hill.
    Part 1: will focus on basic science for policy and communication techniques that can be used to engage policymakers. It will be of particular interest to anyone who wants to make their research more policy relevant and learn more about science-policy.

    Part 2: will include invited speakers who will outline specific EU processes and initiatives and explain how scientists can become involved with them.

    Short course Communicating your research to teachers, schools and the public - interactively

    If you are serious about communicating your research to teachers, schools and the public then you should know something about these audiences, be familiar with the most effective ways of engaging with each of them and be clear about what the ‘take away’ messages would be. ... Methods of engaging the public and families through open days and similar events are different again, and usually use a range of activities to engage and educate at the same time. We will discuss insights and strategies for these different audiences and ask you to have a go yourself.

    Short course Debunking myths and fake news: how can geoscientists fight misinformation and false claims

    Maybe you’ve had an argument on social media with a climate change denier who is convinced the Earth is not warming. Or maybe you’ve received an email from a scared relative forwarding you a piece from an unreliable website about how total solar eclipses produce harmful rays that can make you blind. How do you go about convincing them they are mistaken without them holding on even more to their false beliefs? In the age of Brexit and Trump, of fake news and of expert snubbing, geoscientists have a role to play in tactfully fighting misinformation related to the Earth, space and planetary sciences. This short course will explore ways in which researchers can promote evidence and facts, prevent fake news from spreading, and successfully debunk false claims.

    Short course Connect2Communicate: communicating your message with charisma, clarity and conviction

    Making use of established techniques from the world of theatre and improvisation, this session will enable participants to make genuine connection with their audience.

    Short course Science writing: selling your research through press releases and articles

    Our press office once organised a short workshop on writing press releases, which was given by a former journalist. He could explain well what a journalist wanted from a press release, but did not understand that the interests of scientists are different. This course may be better, it is given by scientists.
    The course will consist of: an introduction on how to identify a good science story; general tips on how to write with clarity and flair; an introduction on how to go about promoting your work via press releases and working with embargoes; tips on working with press officers and journalists; practical exercises on headline writing; and practical exercises about turning abstracts into press releases.

    Educational and Outreach Symposia Session ECORD IODP Outreach: Past, Present and Future

    The International Ocean Discovery Program is an international programme that works to explore the oceans and the rocks beneath them. ...
    This session addresses the formats by which we disseminate scientific information and discoveries arising from ocean drilling – what have we done in the past, what are we doing now, and what ideas do we have for the future engagement of students with ocean research drilling. Experiences and examples of best practice illustrated in poster or oral format will present school teachers, university lecturers and researchers that describe their outreach efforts in the lab, field and geoscience classrooms to promote high-quality geoscience education at all levels.

    Educational and Outreach Symposia Session Games for Geoscience

    Games have the power to ignite imaginations and place you in someone else’s shoes or situation, often forcing you into making decisions from perspectives other than your own. This makes them potentially powerful tools for communication, through use in outreach, disseminating research, in education at all levels, and as a method to train the public, practitioners and decision makers in order to build environmental resilience. The session is a chance to share your experiences and best practice with using games to communicate geosciences, be they analogue, digital and/or serious games.

    Educational and Outreach Symposia Session Communication and Education in Geoscience: Practice, Research and Reflection

    Do you consider yourself a science communicator? Does your research group or institution participate in public engagement activities? Have you ever evaluated or published your education and outreach efforts?

    Scientists communicate to non-peer audiences through numerous pathways including websites, blogs, public lectures, media interviews, and educational collaborations. A considerable amount of time and money is invested in this public engagement and these efforts are to a large extent responsible for the public perception of science. However, few incentives exist for researchers to optimize their communication practices to ensure effective outreach. This session encourages critical reflection on science communication practices and provides an opportunity for science communicators to share best practice and experiences with evaluation and research in this field.

    Related reading

    EGU2018 and its call-for-abstracts.

    The call-for-session of EMS2018 is currently open. Suggestions for improvements of the description of the "Climate monitoring: data rescue, management, quality and homogenization" session are welcome.

    The fight for the future of science in Berlin. My report of thisyear's conference on scholarly communication, which lots of ideas and initiatives on Open Science and publishing.

    Where is a climate data scientist to go in 2018?

    Source: Variable Variability

  • 20.12.2017: Where is a climate data scientist to go in 2018?

    Where is a climate data scientist to go in the next year? There are two oldies in Old Europe (EGU and EMS) and two new opportunities in the Southern Hemisphere (AMOS and the Data Management Workshop in Peru).

    Data Management Workshop in Peru

    New is the “Data Management for Climate Services” Workshop taking place in Lima - Peru from the 28 of May to 1 of June 2018. I am trying to learn Spanish, but languages are clearly not my strong point. At a restaurant I would now be able to order cat, turtle and chicken. I think I will eat a lot of chicken. Fortunately the workshop will be carried out in two languages and will have a professional translation service from Spanish – English / English – Spanish.

    The workshop is inspired by the series of EUMETNET Data Management Workshops held every two years in Europe. It would be great if similar initiatives would be tried on other continents.

    The abstract submission deadline is soon: the 15 of January 2018.
    • Session 1: METADATA
      • Methods for data rescue and cataloguing; data rescue projects.
      • Methods of metadata rescue for the past and the present; systems for metadata storage; applications and use of metadata.
      • Methods for quality control of different meteorological observations of different specifications; processes to establish operational quality control.
      • Methods for the homogenization of monthly climate data; projects and results from homogenization projects; investigations on parallel climate observations; use of metadata for homogenization.
    • Session 3: GRIDDED DATA
      • Verification of gridded data based on observations; products based on gridded data; methods to produce gridded data; adjustments of gridded data in complex topographies such as the Andes.
    • Session 4: CLIMATE SERVICES
      • Products and climate information: methods and tools of climate data analysis; presentation of climate products and information; products on extreme events
      • Climate services in Ibero-America: projects on climate services in Ibero-America.
      • Interface with climate information users: approaches to building the interface with climate information users; experiences from exchanges with users; user requirements on climate services.

    EMS Annual Meeting

    This time the EMS Annual Meeting: European Conference for Applied Meteorology and Climatology will be in Budapest, Hungary, from 3 to 7 September 2018. The abstract submission deadline is still far away, but if you have ideas for sessions this is the moment to say something. The call for sessions is open until January 4th. New sessions can be proposed.

    The session on "Climate monitoring: data rescue, management, quality and homogenization" is organised by Manola Brunet-India, Ingeborg Auer, Dan Hollis and me. If you have any suggestions for improvements of our please tell me. New this year is that we have explicitly added marine data. The forgotten 70% will be forgotten no longer.
    Robust and reliable climatic studies, particularly those assessments dealing with climate variability and change, greatly depend on availability and accessibility to high-quality/high-resolution and long-term instrumental climate data. At present, a restricted availability and accessibility to long-term and high-quality climate records and datasets is still limiting our ability to better understand, detect, predict and respond to climate variability and change at lower spatial scales than global. In addition, the need for providing reliable, opportune and timely climate services deeply relies on the availability and accessibility to high-quality and high-resolution climate data, which also requires further research and innovative applications in the areas of data rescue techniques and procedures, data management systems, climate monitoring, climate time-series quality control and homogenisation.
    In this session, we welcome contributions (oral and poster) in the following major topics:
    • Climate monitoring , including early warning systems and improvements in the quality of the observational meteorological networks.
    • More efficient transfer of the data rescued into the digital format by means of improving the current state-of-the-art on image enhancement, image segmentation and post-correction techniques, innovating on adaptive Optical Character Recognition and Speech Recognition technologies and their application to transfer data, defining best practices about the operational context for digitisation, improving techniques for inventorying, organising, identifying and validating the data rescued, exploring crowd-sourcing approaches or engaging citizen scientist volunteers, conserving, imaging, inventorying and archiving historical documents containing weather records.
    • Climate data and metadata processing, including climate data flow management systems, from improved database models to better data extraction, development of relational metadata databases and data exchange platforms and networks interoperability.
    • Innovative, improved and extended climate data quality controls (QC), including both near real-time and time-series QCs: from gross-errors and tolerance checks to temporal and spatial coherence tests, statistical derivation and machine learning of QC rules, and extending tailored QC application to monthly, daily and sub-daily data and to all essential climate variables.
    • Improvements to the current state-of-the-art of climate data homogeneity and homogenisation methods, including methods intercomparison and evaluation, along with other topics such as climate time-series inhomogeneities detection and correction techniques/algorithms, using parallel measurements to study inhomogeneities and extending approaches to detect/adjust monthly and, especially, daily and sub-daily time-series and to homogenise all essential climate variables.
    • Fostering evaluation of the uncertainty budget in reconstructed time-series, including the influence of the various data processes steps, and analytical work and numerical estimates using realistic benchmarking datasets.
    The next step is to analyse the data to understand what happens with the climate system. For this there is the session: "Climate change detection, assessment of trends, variability and extremes".


    It is too late to submit abstracts, but you can still visit the Joint 25th AMOS National Conference and 12th International Conference for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography, AMOS-ICSHMO 2018, to be held at UNSW Sydney from 5 to 9 February 2018.

    New is a session on "Data homogenisation and other statistical challenges in climatology" organised by Blair Trewin and Sandy Burden.
    This session is intended as a forum to present work addressing major statistical challenges in climatology, from the perspectives of both climatologists and statisticians. It is planned to have a particular focus on climate data homogenisation, including the potential for merging observations from multiple sources. However, papers on all aspects of statistics in climatology are welcome, including (but not limited to) spatial analysis and uncertainty, quality control, cross-validation, and extreme value and threshold analysis. Statistical analyses of temperature and rainfall will be of most interest, but studies using any meteorological data are welcome.
    If I see it right The session has four talks:
    • Testing for Collective Significance of Temperature Trends (Radan Huth)
    • Investigating Australian Temperature Distributions using Record Breaking Statistics and Quantile Regression (Elisa Jager)
    • A Fluctuation in Surface Temperature in Historical Context: Reassessment and Retrospective on the Evidence (James Risbey)
    • The Next-Generation ACORN-SAT Australian Temperature Data Set (Blair Trewin)
    And there is a session on "Historical climatology in the Southern Hemisphere" organised by Linden Ashcroft, Joëlle Gergis, Stefan Grab, Ruth Morgan and David Nash.
    Historical instrumental and documentary records contain valuable weather and climate data, as well as detailed records of societal responses to past climatic conditions. This information offers valuable insights into current and future climate research and climate change adaptation strategies. While the use of historical climate information is a well-developed field in the Northern Hemisphere, a vast amount of untapped resources exist in the southern latitudes. Recovering this material has the potential to dramatically improve our understanding of Southern Hemisphere climate variability and change. In this session we welcome interdisciplinary submissions on the rescue, interpretation and analysis of historical weather, climate, societal and environmental information across the Southern Hemisphere. This can include:
    • Instrumental data rescue (land and ocean) projects and practices
    • Comparison of documentary, instrumental and palaeoclimate reconstructions
    • Historical studies of extreme events
    • Past social engagement with weather, climate and the natural environment
    • Development of long-term climate records and chronologies.
    It has five talks:
    • An Australian History of Anthropogenic Climate Change (Ruth Morgan)
    • Learning from the Present to Understand the Past: The Case of Precipitation Covariability between Tasmania and Patagonia (Martin Jacques-Coper)
    • Learning from Notorious Maritime Storms of the Late 1800’s (Stuart Browning)
    • Climate Data Rescue Activities at Meteo-France in the Southern Hemisphere (Alexandre Peltier)
    • Recovering Historic Southern Ocean Climate Data using Ships’ Logbooks and Citizen Science (Petra Pearce)

    EGU General Assembly

    EGU will be held in Vienna, Austria, from 8 to 13 April 2018. The abstract submission deadline is looming: the 10th of January.

    The main session from my perspective is: "Climate Data Homogenization and Analysis of Climate Variability, Trends and Extremes", organised by Xiaolan Wang, Rob Roebeling, Petr Stepanek, Enric Aguilar and Cesar Azorin-Molina.
    Accurate, homogeneous, and long-term climate data records are indispensable for many aspects of climate research and services. Realistic and reliable assessments of historical climate trends and climate variability are possible with accurate, homogeneous and long-term time series of climate data and their quantified uncertainties. Such climate data are also indispensable for assimilation in a reanalysis, as well as for the calculation of statistics that are needed to define the state of climate and to analyze climate extremes. Unfortunately, many kinds of changes (such as instrument and/or observer changes, changes in station location and/or environment, observing practices, and/or procedures) that took place during data collection period could cause non-climatic changes (artificial shifts) in the data time series. Such shifts could have huge impacts on the results of climate analysis, especially when it concerns climate trend analysis. Therefore, artificial shifts need to be eliminated, as much as possible, from long-term climate data records prior to their application.

    The above described factors can influence different essential climate variables, including atmospheric (e.g., temperature, precipitation, wind speed), oceanic (e.g., sea surface temperature), and terrestrial (e.g., albedo, snow cover) variables from in-situ observing networks, satellite observing systems, and climate/earth-system model simulations. Our session calls for contributions that are related to:
    • Correction of biases, quality control, homogenization, and validation of essential climate variables data records.
    • Development of new datasets and their analysis (spatial and temporal characteristics, particularly of extremes), examining observed trends and variability, as well as studies that explore the applicability of techniques/algorithms to data of different temporal resolutions (annual, monthly, daily, sub-daily).
    • Rescue and analysis of centennial meteorological observations, with focus on wind data prior to the 1960s, as a unique source to fill in the gap of knowledge of wind variability over century time-scales and to better understand the observed slowdown (termed “stilling”) of near-surface winds in the last 30-50 years.
    Also the session on "Atmospheric Remote Sensing with Space Geodetic Techniques" contains a fair bit of homogenisation. For most satellite datasets homogenisation is done very differently as they do not have as much redundant data, but the homogenisation of humidity datasets based on the geodetic data of the global navigation satellite system ([[GNSS]], consisting of GPS, GLONASS and Galileo) is very similar.
    Today atmospheric remote sensing of the neutral atmosphere with space geodetic techniques is an established field of research and applications. This is largely due to the technological advances and development of models and algorithms as well as, the availability of regional and global ground-based networks, and satellite-based missions. Water vapour is under sampled in current operational meteorological and climate observing systems. Advancements in Numerical Weather Prediction Models (NWP) to improve forecasting of extreme precipitation, requires GNSS troposphere products with a higher resolution in space and shorter delivery times than are currently in use. Homogeneously reprocessed GNSS observations on a regional and global scale have high potential for monitoring water vapour climatic trends and variability, and for assimilation into climate models. Unfortunately, these time series suffer from inhomogeneities (for example instrumental changes, changes in the station environment), which can affect the analysis of the long-term variability. NWP data have recently been used for deriving a new generation of mapping functions and in Real-Time GNSS processing these data can be employed to initialise Precise Point Positioning (PPP) processing algorithms, shortening convergence times and improving positioning. At the same time, GNSS-reflectometry is establishing itself as an alternative method for retrieving soil moisture.
    We welcome, but not limit, contributions on the subjects below:
    • Physical modelling of the neutral atmosphere using ground-based and radio-occultation data.
    • Multi-GNSS and multi-instruments approaches to retrieve and inter-compare tropospheric parameters.
    • Real-Time and reprocessed tropospheric products for forecasting, now-casting and climate monitoring applications.
    • Assimilation of GNSS measurements in NWP and in climate models.
    • Methods for homogenization of long-term GNSS tropospheric products.
    • Studies on mitigating atmospheric effects in GNSS positioning and navigation, as well as observations at radio wavelengths.
    • Usage of NWP data in PPP processing algorithms.
    • Techniques on retrieval of soil moisture from GNSS observations and studies of ground-atmosphere boundary interactions.
    Also for ecological data homogenisation is often needed. Thus the session "Digital environmental models for Ecosystem Services mapping" by Miquel Ninyerola, Xavier Pons and Lluis Pesquer may also be interesting.
    The session aims to focus on understanding, modelling, analysing and improving each step of the process chain for producing digital environmental surface grids (terrain, climate, vegetation, etc.) able to be used in Ecosystem Services issues: from the sensors (in situ as well as Earth Observation data) to the map dissemination. In this context, topics as data acquisition/ingestion, data assimilation, data processing, data homogenization, uncertainty and quality controls, spatial interpolation methods, spatial analysis tools, derived metrics, downscaling techniques, box-tools, improvements on metadata and web map services are invited. Spatio-temporal analyses and model contribution of large series of environmental data and the corresponding auxiliary Earth Observation data are especially welcome as well as studies that combine cartography, GIS, remote sensing, spatial statistics and geocomputing. A rigorous geoinformatics and computational treatment is required in all topics.
    EGU also has a nice number of Open Science, Science communication and Publishing sessions. I hope I will find the time to also write about them in a next post.

    Other conferences

    The Budapest homogenisation workshop was this year, so I do not expect another one in 2018. In case you missed it, the proceedings is now published and contains many interesting extended abstracts.

    Also the last EUMETNET Data Management Workshop was in 2017. If there are any interesting meetings that I missed, please tell us in the comments.

    Source: Variable Variability

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