Every December, earth scientists from all over the world gather in San Francisco for the AGU meeting (American Geophysical Union). But do not be confused by the name of the meeting, this is very much a global event. With nearly 24,000 attendees, the AGU Fall Meeting is the largest Earth and space science meeting in the world. It is now in its 48th year, and has been growing and growing. Everything that involves the Earth and beyond from hydrology, the atmosphere, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, space science etc., you name it, it will be being talked about in some way at this meeting (14th-18th December 2015). The format is like many other conferences, with talks and posters about recent scientific results from studies in the Earth and Space sciences. Students, young researchers and experienced professors all rub shoulders, even over a beer at the poster sessions, with a collective desire to learn and teach. Keynote talks and workshops are also given, and each day the AGU organisers provide a newspaper which lets you know what is on that day, a requirement for a meeting the size of a small town. You can download the AGU fall meeting app, search the AGU website to find out what and where, and even follow the meeting on twitter (@theAGU), where key highlights from the talks and posters will be twittered all around the meeting.
So why should YOU be interested in the AGU meeting and its findings? Well as I sit here writing this blog from a San Francisco hotel room, there is an alarming silence in the media here about the breakthrough global climate agreement that has just been finalised in Paris. This is a deal that unites all the world's nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change. It is the first time in history that this has happened, and although many may be sceptic that it will amount to real change, there is a clear consensus that there is a problem. A big problem, and unlike King Canute, the world is not prepared to wait for the waters to be lapping round their knees to do something about it. But alas the media of one of the biggest powers in the world are more obsessed with terror and how orange Donald Trump is looking today. Although the media maybe slow to pick this up, the Earth Science community in the USA, as well as the world, are deeply engaged in monitoring and collecting the data that will help mankind deal with and understand the climate changes.
Many of the facts which have been found out about global warming have, in part or full, been aired for the first time at the AGU meetings over the last decades. This year's meeting promises to be no different with a vast number of talks and posters that will cover many aspects of the earth and space science studies that are related to climate change. There is a workshop on 'communicating climate science', as the AGU community realise the difficulties in engaging the general public in climate change issues. The USGS's 'Climate change highlights' outlines some key talks that covers droughts, storms, erosion and even roaming polar bears. They highlight a number of Issues that are directly affecting the North American continent, and should be of great concern to the general public in America as well as the world. So if you are wondering what is actually going on with our planet, and how are scientists from around the world looking at the changes to our world and beyond, the AGU fall meeting may just have the answers for you.