The AGU Fall Meeting is an enormous gathering of scientists from all branches of the Earth Sciences. The attendance was advertised as around 15,000 people. One of the most notable things was that although the attendance was comparable to some of the NECC conferences that I have attended, the energy was nowhere near as frantic. It was very interesting to experience a large conference where people seemed to moving in a calm way rather than frantically rushing from session to session. I wondered if it had to do with the personalities of educators vs. scientists or whether it had to do with the fact that at AGU there is a much broader range of interests by the participants so they are not all hoping to get into some of the same sessions.
While at AGU, I tried to attend sessions that were both educational in nature as well as scientific. Many of the sessions that I attended had a connection to Climate Change and I wonder if that is more of a personal bias or a reflection on the fact that climate change is a very trendy topic in science these days? Some of the science sessions were extremely esoteric and I didn’t completely understand the science that was being presented. But overall, I enjoyed both the science and education sessions that I attended.
I had a chance to hear some of the most well known climate scientists speak about their work, including some that have been involved in the so called, “Climategate” controversy. I was most impressed with the communication style of Richard Alley who is incredibly passionate about his work and with the willingness of Michael Mann to not dodge around the stolen email issues.
The most impressive things that I saw were some of the work being doing with visualizations on virtual globes. There were a number of interesting project presented, but the most impressive were those with Google Earth. There are some fascinating tools being developed as part of Google Earth and they have great education and outreach potential for scientists and educators.
I also had some time to enjoy a bit of sightseeing in San Francisco. The city was beautifully decorated for Christmas and there was one fantastically sunny day which I spent part of down at the Fisherman’s Wharf area. The last night there, we went to Ghiradelli Square and had ice cream – I had Kona Coffee Ice Cream with melted dark Ghiardelli Chocolate on top…a heavenly combination.