News Media — Press Conference Schedule

14–18 December 2009
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 3010, Moscone West, at the rear of Level 3). Press conferences take place in the Press Conference Room (Room 3012), adjacent to 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 ( so they can be made available online to reporters calling in from outside the meeting.)

Earthquakes and citizen science
Monday, 14 December

Two innovative projects involve ordinary citizens in collecting earthquake data. NetQuakes installs accelerometers in San Francisco Bay Area homes and businesses, using existing, but idle, Internet connections to collect seismic data in areas not already well covered by seismological instruments. The project attempts to gain a large amount of high-quality seismic data at a minimal expense. The USGS Twitter Earthquake Detection (USGSted) project collects real-time, earthquake-related messages from the social networking site Twitter. Following an earthquake anywhere around the globe, USGSted rapidly collects and analyzes personal Twitter accounts from the epicentral region.


Paul Earle
Seismologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Golden, Colorado, USA;

James Luetgert
Seismologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California, USA.

Sessions: S11B

A new portrait of Earth's magnetism
Monday, 14 December

Scientists discuss advances in understanding and mapping the ever-changing magnetic field of the Earth. These developments affect devices from smart cell phones to giant oil rigs that rely on the latest satellite maps of the geomagnetic field to orient themselves using built-in electronic compasses. On the level of pure science, researchers will discuss new insights into the kinds of motions the Earth's core and other magnetic components undergo, and why. Besides guiding us and other creatures as we travel, magnetic fields that wind through Earth's atmosphere and interior shield our planet from solar outbursts, influence telecommunications, and create a record in rock of ancient transformations of Earth's crust.


Stefan Maus
Research scientist, National Geophysical Data Center NOAA, CIRES, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Manoj Nair
Research scientist, National Geophysical Data Center NOAA, CIRES, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Christopher Finlay
Research scientist, Institute of Geophysics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.

Sessions: GP13A, GP31A

Groundwater loss in California and beyond
Monday, 14 December

California, like many other regions in the United States and around the world, has been consuming groundwater at an unsustainable rate, a situation exacerbated by drought. The effect on the water table can now be readily monitored from space by the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites. Recent findings highlight conditions in California's agriculturally important Central Valley, as well as significant groundwater changes taking place around the globe. Unique measurements by GRACE of Earth's surface mass variations are giving scientists new insights into how climate change is affecting the global water cycle. Plans to integrate GRACE data into operational drought monitoring initiatives will also be discussed.


Michael Watkins
GRACE Project Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Jay Famiglietti
Professor, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, California, USA;

Matthew Rodell
GLDAS Project Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA.

Sessions: G33E, H11C, H11D, H13F, H13G

Will black carbon siphon Asia's drinking water away?
Monday, 14 December

Climatologists have generally blamed the build-up of greenhouse gases for the rapid retreat of glaciers and snowpack in the Himalayan region. But new evidence indicates that an "elevated heat pump" process driven by the emissions of black carbon aerosols is actually fueling the loss of ice. The research suggests that black carbon aerosols and dust—not greenhouse gases— are a key culprit behind the decline. Since the early 1960s, the acreage covered by Himalayan glaciers, the world's largest ice body aside from the polar ice caps, has shrunk by over 20 percent. Some scientists in fact estimate some glaciers in parts of the region could disappear entirely by mid-century. Since the Himalayan glaciers serve as the source water for many of the most important rivers in Asia, the consequences of such a loss could profoundly affect the more than one billion people who rely on the region's fresh water resources.


William Lau,
Chief, Laboratory for Atmospheres, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA;

Susan Kaspari
Researcher, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington, USA;

Jeffrey Kargel
Adjunct professor, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources , University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA;

Brent Holben
Principal Investigator, AERONET, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA.

Sessions: A12A, A13B, A21A, A41E

The Arctic's changing climate: Improving the forecast
Monday, 14 December 1300h

The Arctic, perhaps more than any region on Earth, is feeling the impacts of climate change. But how can scientists better forecast the future of this vulnerable region? New computer modeling techniques and observational tools are enabling scientists to better understand the extent to which the Arctic environment is changing. One modeling study suggests the warming influence of relatively dark and therefore energy-absorbing leaves of northward-spreading plants will be surpassed by a different warming contribution from those same invaders —the water vapor, a greenhouse gas, they emit. Models are also revealing that changes to gas hydrates will likely spur a greater-than-previously-expected release of methane into the atmosphere, perhaps further accelerating warming. Observations, in the form of time-lapse photography vividly show the frantic pace at which portions of the northern coastline of Alaska are crumbling away—up to 30 meters per year—due to a "triple whammy" of declining sea ice, warming seawater, and increased wave activity.


Robert S. Anderson
Associate professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Scott M. Elliott
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos New Mexico, USA;

Inez Fung
Professor of Atmospheric Science and Co-Director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment, University of California, Berkeley, california, USA;

Jennifer E. Kay
Project scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Sessions: A21F, U34B

New USGS Director Marcia McNutt meets the press
Monday, 14 December

USGS Director Marcia McNutt will outline exciting new directions for cutting-edge science at the 130-year old agency. From astrogeology and Earth-observing satellites, to exploring for gas hydrates and the ecology of deep coral reefs, USGS scientists employ highly innovative techniques and perspectives to develop a more complete understanding of how our Earth works.


Marcia K. McNutt
Director, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C., USA.

Session: Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture, 1815h–1915h, Monday, Moscone South, Rooms 304–308

The 2009 Samoan tsunami: A field test in tsunami awareness
Tuesday, 15 December

The 8.0 magnitude earthquake of September 29, 2009 in the Samoan Islands region was quickly followed by a large tsunami that caused over 180 fatalities and displaced more than 5,000 people on the islands of Samoa, American Samoa, and Tonga. Despite the considerable death toll, experts say education saved thousands of lives during this event, the first tsunami in 45 years to cause significant damage on U.S. soil. Panelists will also discuss improvements in tsunami forecasts and inundation models, how tsunamis behave in an island setting with fringing reef, the evolution of tsunami field surveys and the first attempt to describe the types of injuries caused by a tsunami.


Guy Gelfenbaum
Oceanographer, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California, USA;

Bruce Jaffe
Oceanographer, U.S. Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Santa Cruz, California, USA;

Hermann Fritz
Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Tech, Savannah, Georgia, USA;

Vasily Titov
Director, NOAA Center for Tsunami Research, Ocean Environment Research Division, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, Washington, USA.

Sessions: U13E, U21D, U21E, U22B, U23F, U24A

Tracking greenhouse gases
Tuesday, 15 December

Scientists have used temperature and water vapor observations from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite to corroborate climate model predictions that the warming of our climate produced as carbon dioxide levels rise will be greatly exacerbated—in fact, more than doubled—by water vapor. A new, global data set for carbon dioxide in Earth's middle troposphere will be debuted, marking the first-ever release of a global carbon dioxide data set that is based solely on observations. The long-distance transport of another greenhouse gas—carbon monoxide— will also be highlighted, including the recent wildfires in Southern California and the effects of the annual biomass burning in the Amazon basin. Highlights from more than seven years of AIRS daily global digital video of Earth's climate system will also be presented, including data on temperature, water vapor, ozone, clouds, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane.


Thomas Pagano
Project Manager, Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Moustafa Chahine
Science Team Leader, Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Eric Fetzer
Hydrology Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Andrew Dessler
Climate Scientist, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA.

Sessions: A13H, A31D, A33E, A41B, A43A, A43D, GC43A, B44A, A51A, A51F, U51B, A53A

Getting novel polar close-ups with robotic aircraft
Tuesday, 15 December

Unmanned aircraft systems have provided the first up-close observations of a forbidding Antarctica region in winter to improve understanding of one of the most important climate processes—the formation of cold, dense sea water that helps drive global currents. Other novel studies have used unmanned unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) to collect data on sea ice that are helping scientists to learn which polar characteristics to measure in order to best understand the changing earth and what sorts of satellites are needed in the future. Scientists are also monitoring ice seals allowing for systematic surveys of populations without risking human pilots or excessively being intrusive to sensitive ecosystems. UASs have begun to fill a niche between ground-based and satellite-based investigations, carrying out missions that, in the field, would be difficult and dangerous for scientists.


Elizabeth Weatherhead Senior Research Associate, GSD/NOAA, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

John Cassano Assistant Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Fellow, CIRES, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Ute Herzfeld Senior Research Associate, CIRES, and Affiliate Professor in Applied Mathematics, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Sessions: A11A, C22A, A31H, A33A, C33C, GC42A, C41D, C43B, C43D, C51E, C54A

Latest results from LRO
Tuesday, 15 December

Since its launch in June, the cutting-edge remote sensing observations of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have provided new insights about our nearest celestial body, including new geologic context to the Apollo and Constellation sites, calculated durability of polar volatiles such as water ice, and measurements of cosmic radiation at record levels due to the historic solar minimum.


Michael Wargo
Chief Lunar Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington, District of Columbia, USA;

Mark Robinson
Principal Investigator, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA;

David Paige
Principal Investigator, Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment (DLRE), University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA;

Harlan Spence
Principal Investigator, Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER), Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Sessions:U21C, U22A, U31A, U31B

Unlocking the secrets of night-shining clouds
Tuesday, 15 December

The leading theory for increasing sightings and brightness of wispy, glowing, polar clouds on the edge of space is the buildup of carbon dioxide and methane due to human activities. Last summer, the clouds were seen from several places in the northern United States. Observations by NASA's Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite and modeling progress have brought scientists closer to answering "Why do noctilucent clouds form and vary?" The models show for the first time the observed, long-term increases in noctilucent cloud frequency. Researchers recently have also gained new understanding of how temperature and atmospheric waves control the clouds and of coupling between summer and winter hemispheres. The data indicate that night-shining clouds are very sensitive to changes in their environment, suggesting some "weather" processes in the mesosphere (50 to 85 kilometers altitude) may be similar to those seen in weather near the earth surface. Data also shows that the noctilucent cloud seasons turn on and off like a geophysical light bulb, going from no clouds to a completely covered sky in a matter of days.


James M. Russell III
Co-Director Center for Atmospheric Sciences Hampton University Hampton, Virginia, USA;

Scott M. Bailey
Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;

Franz-Josef Lübken
Professor and Director, Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, K├╝hlungsborn, Germany;

Daniel Marsh
Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Session: SA33B

Younger Dryas: Impact trigger or something else?
Tuesday, 15 December

Some scientists previously proposed that an extraterrestrial impact triggered the Younger Dryas, an exceptionally cold, approximately thousand-year period starting 12,900 years ago. Now there are new data that some scientists say support the impact hypothesis, while skeptics will offer other findings that raise serious questions about an impact. Never-before-seen impact markers to be reported at the AGU Fall Meeting and new evidence regarding ancient and modern fires lend more weight to the impact idea, some researchers argue. Others offer conflicting fire evidence, as well as new measurements of rare elements such as iridium, that tilt against an impact. Additional analyses find that the proposed impact is highly unlikely statistically and that an airburst as large as proposed is inconsistent with any physical model.


Wallace Broecker
Newberry Professor of Geology The Earth Institute Columbia University, New York, New York, USA;

Jacquelyn Gill
Department of Geography University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin, USA;

James Kennett
Professor Emeritus (ret.) Dept. of Earth Science and Marine Science Institute University of California, Santa Barbara, California, USA;

Allen West
Geophysicist (ret.) GeoScience Consulting, Dewey, Arizona, USA.

Sessions: PP31D, PP33B

Greenland glaciers: What lies beneath
Wednesday, 16 December

As ice melts on Greenland glaciers, the meltwater trickles down into crevices large and small, eventually flowing into vast pools beneath the ice. In the past, researchers suspected that the subglacial water lubricated the ice against the rock, speeding glacial flow out to sea. Now researchers are using new technologies to delve below the ice, and they are finding that meltwater plays a different role in Greenland ice loss —especially dramatic ice loss along the coast.


Ian Howat
Assistant professor of Earth Sciences, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA;

John Adler
Doctoral Student, CU-Boulder/NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), Boulder, Colorado, USA;

Alberto Behar
Senior Member of Technical Staff, Mobility and Robotic Systems Section, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA.

Session: C34A, C54A

Quiet Sun results in dramatic cooling of Earth's upper atmosphere
Wednesday, 16 December

The deep minimum of the current 11-year solar cycle has strongly affected Earth's atmosphere above 100 kilometers. Measurements by NASA's TIMED satellite show a pronounced decrease in the amount of ultraviolet radiation emitted by the Sun. Meanwhile, the satellite's detection of a drop by nearly a factor of 10 since 2002 in the amount of infrared radiation from the upper atmosphere implies that this atmospheric region has cooled substantially since then. The spacecraft's observations show in detail the direct, prompt link between the Sun and the climate of Earth's thermosphere (the upper-atmospheric layer where auroras tend to occur) above 100 km—on timescales from days to years. TIMED's data also provide a fundamental climate data record for validation of upper atmosphere climate models—an essential step in making accurate predictions of climate change in the high atmosphere. (TIMED stands for Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics.)


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

James M. Russell III
Co-Director Center for Atmospheric Sciences Hampton University Hampton, Virgina, USA;

Stanley C. Solomon
Acting Director, High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Sessions: SA43B, SA44A

Finding near-Earth objects before they find us: Workshop for journalists
Wednesday, 16 December

In the last year alone, several known asteroids shot closely past the Earth while on October 6, 2008 (for the first time in history) a small asteroid was discovered less than 20 hours prior to its impact with our planet's atmosphere over northern Sudan. Scientists who specialize in the challenges of such Near-Earth Objects will discuss finding, tracking, imaging, deflecting, and estimating impact energies and Earthly outcomes of these un-Earthly threats, as well as their international ramifications. Don Yeomans will outline NASA's observing program, research into deflection techniques for NEOs, and real-time NEO information resources. Lance Benner will chronicle radar imaging efforts of Near-Earth objects. Mark Boslough will speak on the history of asteroid impacts and modeling of possible future impacts and their effects. Rusty Schweickart will discuss mitigation techniques and the challenges of coordinating international cooperation if an asteroid threatens serious damage.


Don Yeomans
Manager, Near-Earth Object Office, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Lance Benner
Radar Imaging Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, USA;

Mark Boslough
Scientist, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA;

Rusty Schweickart
Chairman, B612 Foundation, Sonoma, California, USA (and former astronaut).

Sessions: NH31D, NH32A, PP31D

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite: Workshop for journalists
Wednesday, 16 December

Scheduled for a February 3, 2010 launch is the first mission of a long-term research effort to better understand how events and processes on the Sun affect Earth—a program called Living With A Star. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) will minutely study the solar atmosphere in many wavelengths simultaneously to yield deeper understanding —and strive towards predictive capability—of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. SDO will probe how the Sun's magnetic field is generated and structured and how this stored magnetic energy is converted and released into the heliosphere and geospace in the form of solar wind, energetic particles, and variations in the solar irradiance. Get a preview of the upcoming mission and the capabilities of this most technologically advanced spacecraft in NASA's heliophysics fleet.


Dean Pesnell
SDO Project Scientist, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA;

Philip H. Scherrer
Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) PI, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA;

Alan Title
Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) PI, Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Palo Alto, California;

Tom Woods
Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) PI, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Sessions: SH13A, SH33B, SH51B

Deepest undersea volcanic eruption — seen on HD video!
Thursday, 17 December

Join us to view the explosive eruption at the West Mata submarine volcano, captured on HD video by an interdisciplinary team of U.S. scientists in May 2009. At nearly 4000 feet depth, it is the deepest erupting submarine volcano ever witnessed. The violent eruptions extruded molten lavas, bursting lava bubbles, and pillow lava flows, providing scientists the first-ever observation of molten rock advancing across the deep-ocean seafloor and forming new earth. The lavas at West Mata are also very unusual, having only been seen before at extinct volcanoes. Microbes and a specialized volcano-dwelling shrimp were found thriving in even the most acidic waters. With the water pressure at a deep underwater eruption allowing scientists to observe from only a few feet away, the show of underwater fireworks is stunning. The expedition was funded by the National Science Foundation and NOAA, and WHOI cameras mounted on the Jason submersible captured the extraordinary high- definition footage.


Stephen Hammond
Marine Geophysicist, Chief Scientist for NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Newport, Oregon, USA;

Joseph Resing
Chemical Oceanographer, University of Washington and the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean Seattle, Washington, USA;

Robert Embley
Marine Geologist, NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Newport, Oregon, USA;

Session: V35

New tsunami inundation maps for California
Thursday, 17 December

Recent advances in tsunami research and more accurate digital bathymetric and topographic data have enabled scientists to refine their predictions of where and how far inland tsunamis could penetrate along the California coast. Using those predictions, state agencies working with the University of Southern California have generated a new set of maps that specify in greater detail than before which areas are at risk of inundation. The maps cover a significantly larger extent of the San Francisco Bay shoreline and the state's coast overall than do previous map sets. By better defining the tsunami hazard along California's coast, the new maps will aid residents and emergency response planners. The state agencies that developed the maps are the California Geological Survey and the California Emergency Management Agency.


John Parrish
State Geologist, California Geological Survey, Sacramento, California, USA;

Rob Dudgeon
Deputy Director, City and County of San Francisco, Department of Emergency Management San Francisco, California, USA;

Matthew Bettenhausen
Secretary, California Emergency Management Agency, Sacramento, California, USA;

Costas Synolakis
Director, University of Southern California, Tsunami Research Center, Los Angeles, California, USA.

Sessions: OS43A, U21E