Add SWIRLS to your Fall Meeting agenda and expand your scientific horizons by making new connections and discussing new developments in related fields of Earth and space science. SWIRLS help find interdisciplinary solutions through the sharing of research, discoveries, and approaches across disciplines. See the interconnected nature of the Earth and space sciences—plan to attend SWIRLS at the Meeting!

 _ROUSSEAU_Denis-Didier__The past decade has experienced new developments in every field of Earth science and space study through concepts, approaches and technologies. In some cases the focus is becoming so narrow that getting a new insight from another discipline with its own concepts, approaches and technics, provides a real added value…The SWIRL sessions are providing a ‘plus’ to the attendees, introducing them to a series of sessions that could lead to new ideas, proposals, or new way of considering one’s own prospects.”

-Denis-Didier Rousseau, AGU Fall Meeting Program Committee Chair.

Check out the 10 SWIRL themes below and click the headers to be linked to the scientific program, where you can add sessions to your schedule. SWIRLS are offered throughout the meeting, making it easy to fit these thought-provoking, interdisciplinary topics into your day!

purple_swirlCarbon Dioxide Sequestration: The global mean annual concentration of atmospheric CO2 surpassed the 400 ppm milestone 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.

 blue swirlCharacterizing 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.

grey swirlComparative Planetology and Habitability: To understand what makes a planet habitable, and thus where to look for life both within and outside of the Solar System, scientists need to understand what in planetary formation and subsequent evolution combine to produce a habitable planet. The SWIRL theme will include sessions that address how the Earth has evolved to become a habitable planet,  the limits of habitability on Earth and in the Solar System, and which processes are required to form a habitable environment.

 red swirlComputational 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?

fushia pink swirlConvection and Circulation Across Scales: Earth, stellar, and planetary systems are dynamic bodies with movements of matter at multiple scales. In Earth mantle’s, microscopic defects allow for solid-state convection and heat transport over thousands of kilometers. Planetary and stellar magnetic fields are generated from the convective circulation of conducting plasmas and liquid metals. In planetary atmospheres, circulation of air drives the evolution of climate and weather patterns.  This SWIRL theme will provide a path for sessions that address the microscopic origins, scaling, physical basis, numerical modeling, and consequences of convection and circulation in planetary and stellar systems.

orange swirlDust 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.

yellow swirlEnhanced Climate Changes at High Latitudes: It has become clear in recent decades that the pace and magnitude of environmental change is substantially greater at high latitudes. Topics in this Swirl include (but are not limited to): increased rate of retreat of polar glaciers; faster melting and destabilization of Antarctic ice sheets; seasonal dimming of the reflectivity/albedo of ice/snow surfaces; thinning of the Arctic ice pack; the prospect of a seasonal ice-free Arctic Ocean and adjacent polar seas; thawing of permafrost; increased flow of fresh melt water into the Arctic Ocean and resulting decreased salinity;​​ changing migration and foraging patterns of Arctic wildlife; changes in Arctic forest distribution and tree lines; changes in Atlantic meridional overturning induced by changes in Arctic Ocean salinity and/or wind patterns; impact of changing seasonal Arctic meteorology on adjacent inhabited continents; rising global sea level due to enhanced melting of the polar icecaps; release of methane hydrates from permafrost and shallow submarine shelves; and impacts on residents living above the Arctic Circle.

brown swirlGlobal Change: Science Literacy, Societal Impacts, and Response Strategies: Effectively addressing climate and global change requires the contributions from research in Earth system science and related scientific disciplines; active, ongoing, effective efforts to increase the scientific literacy of students, professionals and citizens; an understanding of the impacts of global change on societal infrastructure, agriculture, water and health; to develop feasible and effective responses.  This SWIRL will identify sessions that explore the intersection of these domains – science, science literacy, impacts – that help citizens, groups and organizations develop effective mitigation and adaptation responses.

navy swirlGlobal 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.

dark green swirl
Volatile Cycles: Linking Earth’s Interior and its Atmosphere: Volcanic emissions influence the atmosphere and the global climate over time scales ranging from weeks to billions of years. The source of these volatiles, which include H, C, O, Cl, S, F, and N, is in the Earth’s interior, providing a link between internal dynamics and climate. The cycle is complete as volatiles in the oceanic crust are subducted. This SWIRL follows the path of volatiles from the interior of planets to their atmosphere and back. It considers the mineralogical, rheological, and mechanical effects of volatiles in the Earth’s interior, and how volatiles participate in volcanic activity and are recycled. Climate effects will also be addressed, as well as comparisons between Earth and other planets.