December 29, 2014--American Geophysical Union 2014 recap: That sinking, drying, sharing feeling (Circle of Blue)

The American Geophysical Union fall meeting is the world’s largest gathering of the Earth sciences. Some 24,000 people attended the December 15-19 conference in San Francisco. Here, among the hydrologists, seismologists, and climatologists, and between rows of thousands of research posters, you can find the Earth’s pulse — or at least measurements of it. In charts and graphs, the planet’s temperature, blood pressure, and bone density are portrayed in fine detail as well. The American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting is the world’s largest convention for the Earth sciences. Every year in mid-December, the Moscone Center in San Francisco’s tech-booming South of Market district welcomes nearly 24,000 of the world’s top scientists for a banquet of research and debate. For five days I sampled widely from the AGU buffet, looking for new insight into the ways in which water shapes ecology and society. Summarizing such a rollicking, capacious science party is an exercise in exclusion. There is simply too much activity for one person to take in. Nonetheless, three important research trends stood out beyond the usual suspects of food, energy, and climate: drought, land subsidence, and the newish sub-field of sociohydrology.

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