Sunbeam through rocky archway

SWIRL Themes


Find your niche – or discover a new one!

Sessions with Interdisciplinary Research Linkages (SWIRL) themes are used to curate your experience at AGU Fall Meeting. These themes expand scientific horizons by helping attendees make new connections and discuss new developments in related fields of Earth and space science. SWIRL themes reveal interdisciplinary solutions through the sharing of research, discoveries, and approaches across disciplines.

“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 techniques provides a real added value.… The SWIRL sessions provide a ‘plus’ to 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

View 2019 SWIRLs

Check out sessions sorted by SWIRL theme at Fall Meeting 2019.


SWIRL themes for 2019

Water with hills underneath a gradient sky and moon

These Union and section sessions are part of AGU’s Centennial Celebration: Transforming Science, Bridging Communities, and Inspiring the Future.  They showcase past achievements in the Earth and space sciences, highlighting broad societal benefits, and connect these to future questions and challenges.

The climate system is composed of various components, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, lithosphere, and the biosphere. This SWIRL will highlight sessions discussing the scientific advancements in research dealing with climate variability, climate change and climate change impacts, global to local scales, and paleoclimate reconstructions to future climate projections.

These sessions will highlight how Earth and space science data are critical to scientific advancement and improving our understanding of how natural systems and phenomena operate and change over time. Wherever possible, data should be openly accessible and preserved for reuse into the future. Emerging technologies are creating new instruments, new sensor arrays, and new platforms that enable the collection of new data types and/or improve the resolution, accuracy, and precision of data collection methodologies. Frontier computational techniques (machine learning, semantic technologies) and visualization tools are rapidly influencing the way we collect data and conduct our science, thus forming a fertile breeding ground for new ideas and never-before-attempted science.

From the Earth’s magnetosphere to its inner core, the geosphere, the biosphere, the hydrosphere and the atmosphere interact in large-scale processes that have governed the Earth’s evolution since its formation. A selection of sessions and named lectures are brought together in the Earth Processes SWIRL to highlight how a diversity of observations and models shed light and deepen our understanding of earth processes.

Extreme events and hazards are frequently observed, due to strong land-ocean-cryosphere-biosphere-atmosphere coupling. Hazards are associated with Earth systems, impacting all kinds of life, environment, ecology, climate, and resources. Sessions under the Extreme Events & Hazards SWIRL provide new insights to understand the physics of all kinds of extreme events and hazards and their impacts on day-to-day life, monitoring, planned new observations, new tools to explore ways and means to predict extreme events and associated hazards, to save life and minimize losses.

The Natural Resources SWIRL is comprised of sessions that have a good balance among topics to given resources, energy challenges, methods for their identification, processes taking places, management and modeling with particular emphasis on water resources.

The Planetary Discovery SWIRL examines the physical processes within our solar system that led to the formation of Earth and other planets, and highlights, in a comparative way, the differences in their atmospheres, surfaces and interiors. Topics in this SWIRL also cover the themes of planetary habitability, recognition of extraterrestrial biosignatures, and investigative approaches to detecting life elsewhere in the solar system. Results come from laboratory studies, computer modeling, astronomical observations, and past and present spacecraft measurements throughout the solar system.

Advances in Earth and space sciences can help inform society regarding policies to manage natural resources, like freshwater and fossil fuels, and to better prepare and respond to challenges that arise due to Earth processes, like weather extremes and earthquakes. These sessions relate research advances to societal impacts, societal benefits, and ways to enhance society’s interactions with Earth systems.

Communicating the value and impact of Earth and space science to decision makers, journalists, and public audiences is critically important. Effective science communication allows us to build dialogues and develop and foster relationships of mutual respect. Sessions in this SWIRL will provide examples, guidelines, and/or insights into ways to communicate science and its value in an accessible, compelling, and reciprocal manner across a variety of media (including art, social media, and multimedia) and with a wide variety of audiences.

Soils are both responders and drivers of critical environmental changes facing the Earth. This 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 will provide bridges of interdisciplinary and communication across the AGU membership to characterize and quantify soil processes from microbial to tectonic scales.