Scientific Program

Special Activities & Events

Education, Outreach, & Careers

News Media

Press Conference Schedule

15-19 December 2008
San Francisco, CA

The following schedule of press conferences is subject to change, before or during Fall Meeting. Press conferences may be added or dropped, their titles and emphases may change, and participants may change. All updates to this schedule will be announced in the Press Room (Room 2015, Level 2, just off the Lobby). Press conferences take place in the Press Conference Room (Room 3015), which is on Level 3, directly above the Press Room.

Times for press conferences are Pacific Standard Time. Session numbers at the end of each press conference listing may show only the first in a series of related sessions on the topic.

(Note to Public Information Officers: If you have prepared press releases or other handouts for press conferences listed below, please email electronic copies of the documents to Peter Weiss (pweiss@agu.org) so they can be made available online to reporters calling in from outside the meeting.)

New satellite to forecast weather—in space
Monday, 15 December

Someday soon you may be able to tune in to the daily space weather forecast. A new Air Force spacecraft is forecasting the times when upper atmospheric irregularities will disrupt satellite communications and degrade the GPS navigation system. The satellite – the Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS) – was launched in April 2008. Six separate instruments measure critical parameters in the ionosphere that allow the prediction of electron density profiles and the presence of equatorial ionospheric turbulence.


Donald Hunton,

Chief, Space Weather Effects Section, Air Force Research Laboratory, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, USA;

Odile de La Beaujardiere
Chief, Space Plasma Disturbance Specification and Forecast Section, Air Force Research Laboratory, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, USA;

Roderick Heelis
Director, William B. Hanson Center for Space Studies, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, USA;

Robert Pfaff
Research Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA.

Sessions: SA11A, SA13A, SA14A, SA21A, SA24B

Preparing for local and regional climate change
Monday, 15 December

As the need to prepare for climate change becomes more pressing, scientists are advising local and regional leaders on adapting to a warmer future. Cities and states face an array of challenges, ranging from more frequent heat waves and droughts to higher costs for road maintenance, electricity, emergency services, and reliable water supplies. However, they have not taken a consistent approach to adapting to climate change. While some cities, such as Chicago, are mapping out their climate future, others lag far behind.


Jack Fellows
Vice President for Corporate Affairs, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Jonathan Overpeck
Co-Director, Institute for Environment and Society, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA;

Donald Wuebbles
Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA.

Session PA 12A

Antarctica: Back to the future
Monday, 15 December

By investigating Antarctica’s deep past, researchers are providing deeper understanding of the region today, including possible future scenarios for Antarctica’s vast ice sheets. Drillers find that 1 to 14 million years ago, the West Antarctic ice sheet responded dramatically, at times, to global warming events, implying the possibility of rapid sea level fluctuations in our modern era, up to as much as a 21 foot (6.4 meters) rise. A new analysis of GPS and other data indicates that current models for vertical motion of Antarctic bedrock due to glacial rebound are incorrect, possibly leading to more accurate estimates of polar-ice-sheet contributions to sea level change. Evidence for ancient periods of movement or lack thereof between East and West Antarctica offers potential new insights into plate tectonics, volcanism, and convection in the Earth’s mantle. These studies are part of the International Polar Year - a scientific research campaign focused on the Arctic and Antarctic, which is slated to end in early 2009.


Steve Cande
Professor, Marine Geophysics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California, USA;

Ross Powell
Professor, Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences, Northern Illinois University, De Kalb, Illinois, USA;

Terry Wilson
Principal Investigator, Geological Sciences, Byrd Polar Research Center and School of Earth Sciences, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

Sessions: V11F, V13C

Deccan volcanism and the dinosaur extinction
Monday, 15 December

New paleontological data from India challenges the prevailing theory that the large Chicxulub meteorite impact in Yucatan, Mexico caused the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs, among many other species. The data show that the K-T extinction coincided with the end of a major volcanism event in India. The volcanic outpouring spewed at least 30 times more sulfur dioxide, the suspected killing agent, than did the Chicxulub impact. In Mexico and Texas, melt rock spherules discovered in sediments well below the K-T boundary indicate that the Chicxulub impact predates the mass extinction by about 300,000 years, leaving no significant biotic effects.


Gerta Keller

Principal Investigator, Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Geosciences Department, Princeton University, Princeton, USA;

Vincent Courtillot
Director, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris University of Paris 7 and Institut Universitaire de France, Paris, France;

Sunil Bajpai
Co-investigator, Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Uttarakand, India

Sessions: V22B, V24A, V53A

Latest news from flybys of Saturn’s geyser moon Enceladus
Monday, 15 December

Recent data from Enceladus are providing new views on activity in the moon's south polar region where water vapor and ice particles are ejected miles into space. Scientists are beginning to understand changes happening on and around the moon, which raise new questions about this dynamic small body. Panelists will discuss the new images and measurements, with emphasis on how the surface, plume, and magnetic environment of Enceladus may evolve over time.


Carolyn Porco
Cassini imaging team leader, Director, Cassini Central Laboratory for OPerationS (CICLOPS),
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A.;

Paul Helfenstein
Cassini imaging team associate, Senior Research Associate, Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.;

Christopher Russell
Cassini magnetometer science team member, Professor, Geophysics and Space Physics, University of California, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Sessions: P13D, P14A, P23B

Close look at a Martian arctic environment
Monday, 15 December

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander spent more than five months this year examining a landing site on far-northern Mars. Phoenix dug to water-ice beneath the surface and analyzed the soil just above the ice for clues about the habitability of this permafrost environment. Analysis of the data from the mission will continue after the robotic spacecraft finishes its work at the end of the arctic summer. The Phoenix science team will report the latest conclusions it is drawing from the mission's data.


Peter Smith

Principal Investigator, NASA Phoenix Mars Lander, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA;

Aaron Zent
Lead Scientist, Phoenix Thermal and Electrical Conductivity Probe, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, USA;

Raymond Arvidson
Lead Scientist, Phoenix Robotic Arm, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

Sessions: P13F, U11B, U14A

New 'breathing' mode of atmosphere found
Monday, 15 December

Recent satellite measurements reveal a recurrent 'breathing', or expansion and contraction, of the Earth's upper atmosphere. Researchers have discovered that this multi-day breathing mode is associated with solar wind high speed disturbances that originate at the sun. This new solar-terrestrial connection could help improve predictions of satellite drag and of characteristics of the ionosphere that affect radio communications and GPS signals. The new findings may also have a bearing on climate and climate change. The evidence for 'breathing' is found in upper atmospheric density and composition, and in gases responsible for cooling the atmosphere.


Geoff Crowley

President/Chief Scientist, Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (ASTRA) LLC, San Antonio, Texas, USA;

Martin G. Mlynczak
Senior Research Scientist, Climate Science Branch, Science Directorate, NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, USA;

Jeffrey P. Thayer
Associate professor, Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Sessions: SA21B, SA23A, SA24B

Geoscientific data for the revitalization of Afghanistan
Monday, 15 December

New data are available that will help support the revitalization and prosperity of Afghanistan. Scientists will report on Afghanistan’s current and future climate scenarios, water availability issues, and significant natural resource potential, including the location and quantity of oil, gas and non-fuel mineral resources. This research will help better define areas for future exploration and development and are important components in creating effective mitigation and adaptation strategies in response to climate change.


James F. Devine

Senior Advisor for Science Applications, U.S. Geological Survey, Office of the Director, Reston, Virginia, USA;

Mohammad Ibrahim Adel Dip-Eng
Minister of Mines, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan;

Professor John (Jack) Shroder
Assistant Dean, International Studies and Department of Geography and Geology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Session: NS22A

Titan's chilly volcanoes
Monday, 15 December

Are ice volcanoes oozing from Titan and replenishing its atmosphere with methane? Or are these flow-like features the icy-debris that have been lubricated by rain and collapsed into sinuous piles like mudflows? New observations of Titan have given Cassini scientists some hot leads on this icy subject.


Jonathan Lunine

Cassini-Huygens Interdisciplinary Scientist, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA;

Bob Nelson
Cassini-Huygens Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer Investigation Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Jeffrey Moore
Planetary Geologist, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, USA;

Rosaly Lopes
Cassini-Huygens Radar Team Investigation Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA.

Sessions: P11D, P21A, P52A

Surprise contact with magma
Tuesday, 16 December

Drillers of a commercial geothermal well in Hawaii have unexpectedly struck underground molten rock at shallow depth. Magma rose several meters up the drill hole, cooled to a glass, was re-drilled, and rose again several times before drilling was terminated. Scientists involved in the geothermal project may have directly observed, for the first time, the process by which granitic rock differentiates from basalt- thought to be one of the ways that granitic rocks making up much of the continents are formed. Because magma is unusually hot compared to rock found deeper by other geothermal projects, this unexpectedly accessible high-heat source may lead to novel means for extracting geothermal energy.


William Teplow

Consulting Geologist, US Geothermal Inc. (of Boise, Idaho), Oakland, California, USA;

Bruce Marsh
Professor, Earth & Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA;

Lucien Y. Bronicki
Chairman and Chief Technology Officer, Ormat Technologies Inc., Reno, Nevada, USA.

Sessions: V23A

Arctic in flux: New insights from the International Polar Year
Tuesday, 16 December

Continuing climate changes in the Arctic received renewed scientific attention during the International Polar Year (IPY) - a scientific research campaign focused on the Arctic and Antarctic, which is slated to end in early 2009. This briefing presents early results from a range of Arctic studies conducted during IPY based on climate models and new observations taken from sea, land, and space. Findings include the discovery of new seeps of the greenhouse gas methane along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, large increases in tundra greenness along North America's Arctic coasts, a lengthening snowmelt season and a second year of ice mass loss in Greenland, and evidence that the predicted amplification of Arctic warming due to decreasing sea ice has already begun.


Igor Semiletov

Research Associate Professor, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA;

Julienne Stroeve
Research Scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Marco Tedesco
Director, Cryospheric Processes and Remote Sensing Laboratory, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, City College of New York, New York, New York, USA;

D. A. (Skip) Walker
Greening of the Arctic Principal Investigator, Alaska Geobotany Center, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA.

Sessions: C41B, U23F

Largest breach of Earth's solar storm shield discovered
Tuesday, 16 December

New studies reveal that two large leaks often form in the magnetic field that shields our planet from severe space weather. Researchers will discuss findings indicating where, how, and why this breach of the shield occurs. The discovery of the breach and its cause overturns established thinking about how most solar particles penetrate Earth's magnetic field. The findings are expected to aid scientists to predict when solar storms will be severe. Based on these results, space-weather specialists expect fiercer storms during the upcoming solar cycle. Data from NASA's fleet of spacecraft on the THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) mission was used to discover the size of the leak.


David Sibeck

THEMIS Project Scientist, Space Weather Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Greenbelt, Maryland, USA;

Wenhui Li
Research Scientist, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA;

Marit Oieroset
Associate Research Physicist, Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA;

Joachim (Jimmy) Raeder
Associate Professor, Department of Physics & Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, USA.

Sessions: SM23A, SM24A, SM31B, SM31C, SM51B, SM54A

Orbiting Carbon Observatory: Workshop for journalists
Tuesday, 16 December

Scientists with NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), scheduled to launch in January, will give reporters a carbon-cycle-science crash course to illuminate the atmospheric chemistry and other processes the observatory will study. David Crisp will speak on the mission concept, instruments, and measurement approach. Scott Denning will discuss the use of the mission's data for studies of the global carbon cycle. Reporters will learn about carbon dioxide "sources" and "sinks", processes that influence carbon dioxide concentrations in Earth's atmosphere over space and time, and how carbon dioxide and climate are linked. OCO is NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to making high-precision measurements of carbon dioxide, the principal human-produced driver of climate change. 


David Crisp

OCO Principal Investigator, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Scott Denning
OCO Science Team Associate, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

Related Sessions: A32B, A41D, A43F, U41B

International Year of Astronomy
Tuesday, 16 December

A project to churn out a million, low-cost, high-quality telescopes for ordinary citizens next year is one way astronomers, the United Nations, and others are celebrating the 400th year since Galileo Galilei made the first telescope observations of the heavens. Besides the $10 Galileoscope, other facets of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA) include a global campaign to measure light pollution by naked eye and digital sky-brightness-meter, a 100-hour worldwide observation marathon in April focused largely on Saturn, and other events. Organizers of the year-long celebration say they hope to provide 10 million people with their first look through an astronomical telescope in 2009. Films, webcasts, podcasts, and myriad educational programs also aim to boost astronomy understanding, and interest. More than 130 countries and 29 space agencies are participating in IYA.


Stephen Pompea

Manager of Science Education at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), US project director for IYA2009 and leader of the US IYA2009 optics education working group developing the Galileoscope, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.;

Connie Walker
Senior Science Education Specialist at NOAO and leader of the US and international IYA2009 working groups on dark-skies awareness, Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.;

James Manning
Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.;

Leslie Lowes
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory educational outreach specialist and IYA2009 coordinator, Pasadena, California, U.S.A.;

Sessions: ED43B, ED51C

Abrupt climate change
Tuesday, 16 December

Scientists have recently taken a comprehensive look at abrupt climate changes that stand out in the geologic record as so rapid and large that, should they recur, they would pose clear risks to society's ability to adapt. The speakers will unveil findings and conclusions of a new report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. It weighs prospects for societal disruption from four types of abrupt climate change: rapid melting of glaciers and ice sheets with consequent rise in sea level; widespread and sustained changes to the hydrologic cycle, including drought and flooding; abrupt weakening of the northward flow of warm, salty water in the upper layers of the Atlantic Ocean; and rapid release to the atmosphere of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.


John P. McGeehin

Associate Program Coordinator, Office of Global Change, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia, USA;

Peter U. Clark
Professor, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA;

Andrew Weaver (participating by phone — to answer questions)
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Climate Modeling and Analysis, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada;

Edward R. Cook
Senior Scholar and Director, Tree-Ring Laboratory, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, New York, USA;

Edward Brook
Professor, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA;

Thomas L. Delworth (participating by phone — to answer questions)
Research Scientist, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey, USA;

Eric Rignot
Professor, Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, California, USA; Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA

No related sessions.

Peak oil and future climate change scenarios
Wednesday, 17 December

What causes the largest uncertainty in projections of future climate change? By a large margin, it turns out to be ignorance of fossil fuel reserves and the rate of their burning. Panel member David Rutledge has shown that total reserves of fossil fuel are well below conventional estimates, and that as a result future atmospheric CO2 will remain below 460 parts per million (ppm), thus keeping global temperature change below 2 degrees Celsius. Panel member Pushker Kharecha has used the GISS climate model of Jim Hansen to show that even if all the known oil and natural gas is burned, atmospheric CO2 would not exceed 450 ppm provided that emissions of CO2 from coal and unconventional fossil fuels are constrained and phased out by 2050. Panel member Ken Caldeira has shown that oil exhaustion is actually bad news for climate change since it will drive the transportation sector to adopt liquefied coal as a fuel, which has a carbon footprint much larger than oil’s.


Pushker A. Kharecha

Associate Research Scientist, NASA GISS / Columbia Univ. Earth Institute, New York, New York, USA;

Ken Caldeira
Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, Stanford, California, USA;

David Rutledge
Professor, Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.

Session: U42A

Geoengineering through solar radiation management
Wednesday, 17 December

Even if society gave geoengineering with aerosols the green light today, it would be impossible to carry out, as there is no existing technology to put sulfur gases into the stratosphere. However, scientists are beginning to study how to design and introduce aerosol particles into the stratosphere to block solar radiation. New work investigates how the gases would form particles and what their sizes and properties would be. It also looks at how such aerosols would evolve in the atmosphere, circulate around the world, and finally exit the atmosphere.


Alan Robock

Professor II, Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA;

Richard P. Turco
Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, USA;

David Mitchell
Associate Research Professor, Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada, USA;

David Keith
Professor, Energy & Environmental Systems Group, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada;

Adrian F. Tuck
Visiting Professor, Physics Department, Imperial College London, United Kingdom;

Sessions: U41E, U43A

Urban areas and global change
Wednesday, 17 December

Urban areas have only recently been highlighted as important components in global change science. While the spatial extent of cities is a very small fraction of the Earth surface, the panelists argue that cities may play a pivotal role in mitigation and adaptation efforts. The session will also highlight the opportunities for carbon storage and sequestration in urban areas.


Galina Churkina

Senior scientist, Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Müncheberg, Germany;

Patricia Romero Lankao
Social Scientist, the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Amy Townsend-Small
Postdoctoral Investigator, University of California, Department of Earth System Science, Irvine, California, USA;

James T. De Lanoy
National Science Foundation Intern, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, New York, and George Mason University, Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences, Fairfax, Virginia, USA.

Sessions: B41D, B43D

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spots key mineral
Thursday, 18 December

Researchers using a powerful spectrometer on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found a mineral offering new clues to the planet's watery past. This new report adds to a series of signs detected during the orbiter's first two-year science phase pointing to a complex history of climate change and environmental diversity on Mars, persisting into the present.


Bethany Ehlmann

Collaborator, Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA;

Scott Murchie
Principal Investigator, Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, USA;

Richard Zurek
Project Scientist, NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA.

Sessions: P43D, P31D, P32B, P41B

Environmental consequences of the changing global food system
Thursday, 18 December

Demand for food, feed and biofuels is placing increasing pressure on the planet's terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. Globalization and the commodity trade are also creating linkages between land use decisions and environmental degradation in distant regions of the planet. The participants in this press conference will discuss different aspects of these problems including the effect of food production on the nitrogen cycle (Galloway), the environmental costs of animal-based food production (Martin), the effect of biofuel cultivation on land conservation (Baker), the land use requirements and environmental impacts of proposed solutions to climate change (Jacobson).


James Galloway

Sidman P. Poole Professor of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA;

Pamela Martin
Assistant professor, Department of Geophysics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA;

Justin Baker
Research Associate, Center on Global Change, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA;

Mark Z. Jacobson
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA;

Sessions: U43C, U53B

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