EGU24 trends and highlights – inspiring as ever

We have had general assemblies of the European Geosciences Union with better weather over the past years. But in the end, what does it matter when there are oral sessions, short courses, great debates, PICO and poster sessions on a range of extremely interesting and relevant topics from early morning right into the evening? That wealth also has its downside: you can only be in one place at a time, even though there are always multiple parallel sessions I’d like to participate in. I’m providing a short overview of some trends and highlights from my perspective below. As a result of the downside I mentioned, this is probably mostly a reflection of my interests and preferences, and certainly not a comprehensive analysis!

Looking at drinking water and hydroinformatics in particular, there was very interesting work not just on the latest technological developments (applications of machine learning, etc.), but also work that zoomed out and looked at the technology as it operates in a broader context, e.g., life-cycle analyses for smart water meters or the question how network modelers make their modelling decisions, and a rising interest in and awareness of uncertainty. Zooming out more, the drinking water industry operates within the water system that is shaped and driven by hydrosphere-atmosphere interactions. On that topic, there were many presentations about extreme weather events, but also on tipping points and Planetary (or Earth System) Boundaries, on which their respective research communities continue to accumulate insights and understanding year by year. This is a great place to get updated on those latest developments that provide the boundary conditions for drinking water provision.

Perhaps because of the immense scale of this conference, there are also many sessions and short courses that could be considered more “fringe”, but are really worthwhile in their own right, including those on ethics, misinformation and disinformation, climate activism, and scientific drawing. I learned a lot there as well. And of course, it’s not just about the science, but also (perhaps mostly for many) about the contacts, the networking, discussions, meeting old and new friends, etc.

I will be taking the train back to the Netherlands with a head full and a year’s worth of new knowledge and ideas, already looking forward to next year’s edition.