To continue to promote interdisciplinary collaboration at Fall Meeting, the 2013 AGU Program Committee identified six SWIRL themes: (1) Carbon Dioxide Sequestration, (2) Characterizing Uncertainty,  (3) Dust and Aerosols, (4) Computational Methods across Scales: from Personal to High Performance Platforms, (5) Global Soils and (6) Urban Systems.

                              Carbon Dioxide Sequestration    
A013_1567_purple_SWIRL-graphic daily CO2 value above 400 ppm was recorded at the Mauna Loa observatory for the first time in 2013. The question of whether future warming can be avoided through emissions reductions has important implications for all aspects of human society, and geologic sequestration of CO2 may be critical for mitigating emissions while meeting growing global energy demand. Multidisciplinary studies are identifying sites for safe long-term storage, examining chemical reactions that occur during multiphase flow in potential host materials over a wide range of spatial scales, and developing technologies for injecting supercritical CO2 into the pore space of subsurface rock reservoirs. This SWIRL theme will include sessions that address the geochemical, biogeochemical, hydrologic, and geophysical issues underlying geologic carbon sequestration.

graphic icon representing the Characterizing Uncertainty SWIRL theme for Fall Meeting 2012Characterizing Uncertainty
It is important to recognize that uncertainty has at least two different aspects that are important for interdisciplinary science. One is the analytical and numerical quantification of uncertainty, such as the variability of observed results compared to simulated results, how we estimate model bias or error, and the difference in model outcomes that do and do not include critical processes in their framework. The other is that qualitative uncertainty is a significant component in our understanding of issues like evaluating decision criteria that can be used when implementing new policy or infrastructure and social/cultural responses to new and existing policies. This SWIRL theme will include sessions that discuss the quantification of uncertainty as well as qualitative assessments of legal issues and strategies for science communications.

graphic icon representing the Dust and Aerosols SWIRL theme for Fall Meeting 2012Dust and Aerosols
Natural and human contributions of dust and aerosols are critical to understanding climate and Earth system dynamics. In addition, dust and aerosols are important for understanding the atmospheric dynamics on other planets, such as Mars, Venus, the Moon, and other orbiting bodies, as well as contributions to deep Earth dynamics in volcanic systems with regard to tephrochronology and pyroclastic investigations into tracing volcanic eruptions. This SWIRL theme provides a path for: the paleo past; contributions to the atmosphere, including contemporary regional monsoonal, high-latitude, south Asian and African dust and aerosol generation and transport; planetary evolution; the Rosetta encounter; and how dust and aerosols contribute to our understanding of processes and mechanisms in volcanology.

graphic icon representing the Subduction SWIRL theme for Fall Meeting 2012Computational Methods across Scales: Personal to High Performance Platforms
The new Computational Methods SWIRL takes several perspectives on computing across scales.  Sessions for this SWIRL could consider computing from the personal and hyperlocal scales to how well can we actually observe reality with smart sensors at community to global scales. Another axis of computational methods plays on the old “does not compute” meme. Do we truly and deeply understand what our computations tell us or is there some kind of deep impedance mismatch? In addition to the underlying validity and veracity questions, Computational methods could also touch on how computing is inherently a simplification process: big data, long data, cloud computing and supercomputers notwithstanding.  A final “reality” of computational methods could touch on what does it mean that people have increasing access to a web of data and a web of information? Does that make a tablet or a smartphone a passport for digital natives?

swirl_4Global Soils
Soils are part of the Critical Zone, and are both responders and drivers of the most critical environmental changes facing the earth during the Anthropocene. Controls on soil organic matter and C-cycling processes have dominated these discipline-specific sessions.  The soils SWIRL accounts for all aspects of the complexity of the soil system including erosion, dust production, soils in water transport and chemistry, isotopic analyses, pedogenic processes affected by volcanism, physical, chemical and biological composition, fertility, greenhouse gas production, and weathering.  The soils SWIRL theme will provide bridges of interdisciplinarity and communication across the AGU membership to characterize and quantify soil processes from microbial to pedogenic scales.

graphic indicating the Urban Systems SWIRL session for the 2013 AGU Fall MeetingUrban Systems
Urbanization creates areas of intense human modifications that affect global biogeochemical cycles, climatic and atmospheric chemical gradients, hydrologic transport vectors moving materials through Earth systems, and the structure of these Earth systems.  To mitigate these issues, multi-disciplinary approaches are needed to understand material and energy flows through complex urban systems.  Further, examination of the urban systems must incorporate the fundamental response of human populations to ongoing geophysical change.  Sessions focusing on urban systems have emerged across the sections to respond to cross-cutting challenges in characterizing these systems.  This SWIRL will formally organize these section efforts into a greater whole, allowing examination of urban systems in their rich context. These sessions includes all aspects of ecological, hydrological, and atmospheric processes; impacts of land cover and green infrastructure; and socio-economic and sustainability approaches to urban issues.