UKCEH researchers will take part in Europe’s largest earth science conference next week (14-19 April) when the annual General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU24) begins in Vienna. We’re convening fantastic sessions, including the Great EGU Climate Debate, and presenting talks and posters on a range of topics from impact-based extreme storm and flooding forecasting to river flow trends, the hydrogen soil sink, and trends in greenhouse gas emissions.

See our schedule below (times in CEST) and join us or our partners where you can!

Monday 15 April

Oral presentations 

Sergiy Medinets: Humidity-dependent dry deposition of methacrolein to plant species (AS3.2, 09:25)

  • Volatile Organic Compounds contribute to the formation of ozone and particulate matter pollution. Modelling pollution movement in the atmosphere relies on an accurate understanding of processes involved in VOC deposition. This study is the first systemic, measurement-based investigation into these processes. The preliminary results of our laboratory study on plant fumigation with methacrolein, among other selected VOCs, are presented.

Christopher Taylor: Multiday mesoscale soil moisture persistence and atmospheric predictability – an illustration from the Sahel (AS1.6, 09:35)

  • We use satellite observations to examine how a strong, locally negative, soil moisture-precipitation feedback evolves and impacts rainfall patterns over a series of storms in the Sahel. We track the response of the surface and atmosphere to over 5,000 mesoscale convective system events from the period 2004-2020. These results have important implications for rainfall forecasting on scales of tens to several hundred kilometres.

Guillaume Chagnaud: Exploring the influence of land-atmosphere interactions on humid heat extremes in a convection permitting model simulation (CL4.1, 15:00)

  • We are using a 10-year pan-African model simulation to investigate the drivers of humid heat extremes. Small to medium soil moisture features are key to their generation under certain large-scale weather conditions. Using soil moisture anomalies derived from land surface temperatures may have good potential for near-term prediction of these events.

Also on Monday our partners at University of Reading, working with UKCEH's Amulya Chevuturi, will present on the Indian Easterly Jet (AS1.17, 09:15), which is linked to variations in pre-monsoon weather in India (temperature and precipitation).

Poster presentation

Cornelia Klein and Seonaid Anderson: Probabilistic nowcasting of severe storms in Africa: workflow and online tools for monitoring (AS1.6)

  • The NFLICS (Nowcasting Flood Impacts of Convective storms in the Sahel) project has co-developed a prototype system with West African meteorological services using weather patterns observed since 2004 to predict severe storms. It looks at past storms and current conditions to forecast the likelihood of storm activity out to six hours ahead.

Convening activities

Nick Everard convenes the Union-wide symposium on Advancing Measurements and Observations in the Geosciences (US1, 16:15)

  • To ensure the long-term success of the geosciences and health of the plant, we need continuous advances in measurement science and to share knowledge and information effectively. Hosts and invited speakers will showcase exciting developments in measurement, monitoring and observational tools and data systems.

Cornelia Klein co-convenes the session, From Mesoscale Convection to Convective-Scale Predictions: advances in process modelling, observations, data assimilation and machine learning (AS1.6)

Jamie Hannaford co-convenes the EURO-FRIEND splinter meeting (18:00). This network of hydrologists has an active research programme. The meeting will review the latest advances of the group, identify emerging challenges, and discuss potential funding sources. 

Tuesday 16 April

Oral presentations

Michael Tso:  DataLabs: development of a cloud collaborative platform for open interdisciplinary geo-environmental sciences (ESSI2.9, 09:14)

  • We will provide and overview of DataLabs, a cloud virtual research environment developed by UKCEH to support FAIR and collaborative geo-environmental science. We will discuss its current capabilities and use cases and provide an outlook to its future development activities. We look forward to collaborating with initiatives that share a similar vision.

Emma Barton: Storm intensification driven by soil moisture gradients in global hotspot regions (AS1.5, 14:40)

  • In big areas (>100s of kilometres) differences in how wet the soil is can make thunderstorms stronger in seasonally semi-arid global storm hotspots. This is shown by larger rainfall features producing more rain on days with favourable soil moisture gradients compared to days with unfavourable gradients. The findings have implications for the forecasting and future projection of extreme events under climate change.

Katie Facer-Childs: Mapping a decade of seasonal hydrological forecasting: The UK Hydrological Outlook (HS4.6, 16:56)

  • The UK Hydrological Outlook was first implemented in 2013 and now celebrates a decade of operational service, a period with several notable flood and drought episodes. This presentation showcases its origins, development, and growth, bringing together multiple research strands converging towards the current operational product. In addition, we include an overview of current and future developments.

Poster presentations

Catherine Sefton: Collaborative provision of a national peak flow data service (HS4.6, 10:45)

  • In the UK, a national data service provides open access to peak river flow data with supporting metadata at more than 900 gauging locations. UKCEH collaborates with the four main Measuring Authorities in the UK to deliver an annual cycle of data acquisition, quality control and dissemination, driving improvements in national and historical consistency.  Annual, versioned data releases support reproducible science and the industry standard methodology for statistical flood estimation.

Partner presentations

SEPA: Impact-based forecasting for convective rainfall: a new approach combining rainfall ensembles and hazard impacts (HS4.1, 08:59)

  • PREDICTOR (PREDICTing flooding impacts from cOnvective Rainfall) has been developed to improve the approach to forecasting the impacts of surface water flooding in Scotland. Its impact-based forecasting approach combines the likelihood of flood-producing rainfall and the potential impact on property and roads to produce 'Flood Risk forecasts out to 24 hours. The PREDICTOR web-portal has been used successfully by SEPA forecasters during 2023 and, in partnership with Transport Scotland, confirmed its value for predicting the risk to the trunk road network.

Also on Tuesday our partners at Helmholtz-UFZ present a short talk: Understanding hydrological model performance through variability analysis of observed water balance components and meteorological forcings (HS2.5.3, 11:21) 

Convening activities

Nick Everard convenes The Great EGU Climate Debate: The Anthropocene - Epochalypse Now? (GDB3, 16:15), with invited speakers. The session will explore the critical role of communicating our scientific results to make sure society can effectively mitigate the threats of planetary heating, extreme weather and biodiversity loss.

Wednesday 17 April

Oral presentation

Jeanette Whitaker: Microbial and mineral interactions decouple litter quality from soil organic matter formation (SSS5.2, 16:40)

  • Manipulating plant communities to increase soil carbon sequestration is promoted as a climate mitigation strategy. We show that the quality of plant inputs to soil influences microbial activity with trade-offs for soil carbon accumulation and loss.

Poster presentations

Amulya Chevutri, Maliko Tanguy: Mapping UK drought teleconnections from ocean to land (HS2.4.2, 08:30)

  • Changes in North Atlantic sea surface temperatures can influence UK hydrometeorology. Our study aims to understand the oceanic drivers responsible for drought events in the UK, subsequently tracing the pathways that connect these drivers to meteorological and hydrological droughts within the region. Our results have potential for advancing drought forecasting and developing early warning systems through identification of novel predictors. 

Katie Facer-Childs: HydroSOS: Knitting local and global hydrological status and outlooks systems together for seamless water resources assessment (HS1.3.1, 10:45)

  • Many hydroclimate services exist across the world at different scales. However, these services all use different categorisation schemes, different presentation styles, and are hosted across countless different websites. The Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS) is a World Meteorological Organization initiative uniting, or 'knitting' hydrological status and sub-seasonal to seasonal outlooks products across scales in a consistent framework, weaving seamless services for water resources assessment and enabling water resilience for extreme event conditions. This fibre-art poster presents the HydroSOS initiative, its progress, and calls for ideas and collaborations on how we can knit hydroclimate services together to make the best fabric for water resources management.

Amit Kumar, Stephen Turner: Global trend and drought analysis of near-natural river flows: The ROBIN Initiative (HS2.4.3, 16:15)

  • Using data from the ROBIN Hydro dataset we have carried out the first truly global analysis of trends in river flows using near-natural catchments. We investigate variations in river flow trends and their impact on drought events, and trends at a global scale. The research focused on the spatial and temporal variability of trends and drought characteristics in different countries and hydro-belts across the ROBIN Hydro network.

Katy Ross: Rotational grazing approaches for sustainable peatland management: A focus on the Falklands (BG3.13, 18:00)  

  • Over an annual cycle between 2022-2023, direct monthly measurements of CO2 and CH4 were conducted across 13 sites in East Falkland using static chambers. These measurements provide the first directly measured annual estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from Falkland peatlands under different management approaches.

Neeraj Sah, Alejandro Dussaillant: Exploratory analysis of the long(er) term dynamics of Nature-based Solutions: the case of agricultural soil properties (ITS4.5/GM1.3, 16:15)

  • Regenerative agriculture practices such as reduced tillage, cover cropping and afforestation can improve soil organic matter content, enhance soil structure, and promote microbial activity, leading to increased soil porosity, water infiltration and retention. However, due to the slow response of soils to changes in agricultural management, a critical research gap exists in quantifying in a timely manner the potential effectiveness of these practices in mitigating flood and drought risks. We adopt an exploratory approach to investigate the merits of back-analysing existing long-term soil moisture datasets to reveal changes in inferred soil porosity due to changes in land use and/or management.

Convening activities

Downscaling aims to refine global climate model outputs to provide information at scales suitable for impact studies. Cornelia Klein co-convenes a session on Downscaling: overview, added value and evaluation (ITS1.12), which brings together scientists from various geoscientific disciplines related to downscaling: atmospheric modeling, climate change impact modeling, machine learning and verification research.

Katie Facer-Childs and Wilson Chan co-convene the poster session Understanding and predicting the impact of internal/natural climate variability on hydrological trends, drying and wetting patterns, and extremes (HS2.4.2, 10:30)

Nick Everard leads the hydrometry streamflow field session (12:00-18:00). This will demonstrate innovative techniques for river and stream flow monitoring.

Thursday 18 April

Oral presentations

Julia Drewer: Improving quantification and understanding of the global H2 soil sink through field and lab-based flux measurements (AS3.26, 15:05)

  • To understand the environmental implications of hydrogen as a fuel, we need to understand how it exists in the environment. We looked specifically at how it interacts with the soil, how it gets stored and how microbes are involved. We will present new hydrogen flux data from agricultural and forest field sites across the UK and our work so far on developing a robust measurement methodology. 

Wilson Chan: Emerging river flow and hydrological drought trends in Great Britain (HS2.4.3, 15:50)

  • More and worse droughts are projected for the UK in the future. However, short observational records, human influences on river flows and internal climate variability mean that river flow trends in the past and near-term may be different to the trend under long-term climate change. We use large ensemble river flow simulations to estimate the 'time of emergence' across Great Britain for river flows and hydrological droughts, ie the decade at which river flow changes exceed natural climate variability.

Partner presentations

Eric Saboya from University of Bristol presents collaborative work on using atmospheric measurements to evaluate recent bottom-up trends and seasonal patterns in UK and Swiss N2O emissions (AS3.38, 15:25). Trace gas measurements were used to assess national greenhouse gas inventories. Nitrous oxide emissions for the UK and Switzerland were compared with the reported inventories and reasons for some discrepancies discussed (AS3.38).

Poster presentation

Sam Walrond: Stability of microbial necromass in soil is controlled by necromass chemical composition (SSS5.2, 14:00)

  • Reversing the trend of decreasing soil carbon stocks is important to help mitigate current environmental challenges. Understanding how soil carbon remains stable, especially in mineral-linked forms, is crucial. Do the different materials that make up the walls of fungi and bacteria affect how long dead microbial matter lasts in soil carbon? Results indicate that soil carbon containing dead fungal matter have greater stability. 

Friday 19 April

Oral presentation

Steve Turner: A global dataset of near-natural basins for climate change detection (HS2.2.6, 10:45)

  • The ROBIN dataset is a collection of gauging stations on rivers across the globe which are near-natural. There aren't many human influences such as dams, large abstractions, urban areas, in these catchments, so we can use them to analyse trends in the river flow data, and perhaps attribute them to climate change.

Eugene Magee: Increasing intermittence of the UK's chalk streams into the future (HS2.1.1, 11:50)

  • Using future projections of river flow and groundwater, we simulated future hydrological state along chalk streams in the south-east of England. The results show projected increases in both duration of drying and extent of drying downstream.

Poster presentations

Bethan Harris: Global characterisation of land-atmosphere interactions during flash droughts using satellite observations (NH9.10, 10:45)

  • We are using global satellite Earth Observation data to understand how the land surface energy balance changes before, during and after rapidly-developing drought events and the impact of these events on vegetation.

Partner poster presentation

Barrier systems are complex environments made up of various coastal sub-units that often include (from sea to land) the nearshore and beach, coastal dunes, and marshes. A University of Cádiz-led study involving UKCEH's Chris Marston delves into the eco-geomorphological complexities of the Camposoto barrier system (GM9.1, 16:15) in the Cadiz Bay area, Southern Spain. Preliminary outcomes show the capabilities of remote sensing tools for coastal mapping and for refining our understanding of barrier environments and evolution.