Press Events At Spring Meeting

May 15, 1998

Media Advisory
Boston, Massachusetts
May 26-29, 1998


We have lined up a series of press events for Spring Meeting, to which all registered media representatives are invited. Those who have not preregistered may do so in the Press Room of the Hynes Convention Center.

The Press Room for Spring Meeting is Room 105.
Phone: (617) 954-3867
Fax: (617) 954-3868
The Press Room is the place to register as a media representative or pick up your credential if you have preregistered. The room has space for you to write and file stories and is where you can leave and pick up messages. Hours of operation: Tuesday-Friday, 9-5 (later if necessary).

Press events will take place in the Briefing Room, Room 111, unless otherwise noted below. The Briefing Room has a camera platform and a mult box, but no special lighting.

The format for press conferences at Spring Meeting will be the following: a scientist will make an opening presentation of 10-15 minutes, followed by journalists' questions. A panel will be available to answer questions in members' respective fields of expertise, but generally panelists will not make opening remarks. We hope this will speed the process and keep the focus on what you want to know about the subject at hand.

Please check in the Press Room frequently for updates or changes to this schedule and any changes pertaining to the meeting itself.

Several previous media advisories about Spring Meeting may be accessed on the AGU Web site:

Tuesday, May 26

12:15 PM. 1998: The Year of the Ocean. Press availability. Dr. Bonnie McGregor, Associate Director, U.S. Geological Survey, will informally discuss current USGS projects, including monitoring polluted sediment in Boston Harbor mapping El Niño-related erosion on the Pacific coast Project YOTO Drifters, providing scientists and teachers near real-time data from 200 drifting ocean buoys.

USGS will also display in the exhibit area (on Tuesday and Wednesday only!) instrumentation that produces CD-ROMs of ocean floor data on board ship. Light refreshments will be served. (Meeting sessions on these topics will be held over several days.)

3:30 PM. The global impact of El Niño on the Earth System. Press conference. Dr. David A. Salstein, Principal Scientist and Manager of the Circulation Diagnostics Group at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., will discuss global impacts of the 1997-98 and other El Niño events. These effects include changes in the overall wind circulation of the atmosphere, which have induced a change in the rotation rate of the Earth. This has resulted in a meaningful increase in the length of the day, as well as other impacts on motions of the Earth and on the oceans. (Meeting sessions on El Niño will take place all day today.)

6:00 PM. Wine and cheese reception for all registered media representatives, hosted by New England Science Writers and AGU. Room CC105. Come and meet your colleagues, followed immediately by:

7:00 PM. Earthquakes: can Boston survive the big one? NESW program: Room 111. Candlestick Park withstood a major earthquake during a ball game; would Fenway Park? Dr. John Ebel, Director of Boston College's Weston Observatory, will discuss the seismic threat to the Boston area. San Francisco may be better equipped to survive a strong quake than Boston, whose building codes have not emphasized this threat and which lies on large patches of filled land. How great is the actual risk? Dr. Ebel will discuss the latest information gathered by the New England Seismic Network, which catalogues all earthquakes occurring in the six state region. (Several Meeting sessions on May 27 will deal with earthquake hazards in Boston and elsewhere.)

Wednesday, May 27

10:30 AM. The geodynamo: how does Earth produce its magnetic field? Press conference. Recent advances on many fronts have produced insights into one of the largest unsolved problems in geophysics: how does Earth produce its internal magnetic field? Dr. Gary A. Glatzmaier of the Los Alamos National Laboratory will discuss the latest computer simulations and direct observations, leading to improved models and more accurate predictions of conditions inside the Earth. (Meeting sessions on the geodynamo are scheduled on Thursday.)

12:15 PM. The Mars Global Surveyor Mission. Press conference on the latest news from Mars, some of it so fresh that it has not yet been collected as of this writing. Dr. Arden Albee, MGS Project Scientist at the California Institute of Technology, will discuss the first findings of the Science Phasing Orbit portion of MGS. Every 11 hours, during close approach to the planet, an array of instruments gathers data in an effort to determine the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere, evidence of past climates, tectonic evolution, and the possibility of life. These results will help scientists prepare for the 1998 and 2001 Mars orbiter, lander, and rover missions. (Held in conjunction with today's all-day session on MGS and Thursday evening's public lecture.)

5:30 PM. AGU Honors Ceremony and Reception. A group of distinguished scientists and a science writer will receive prestigious AGU awards. This event is open to registered media representatives. Boston Marriott Hotel, Copley Place. Followed immediately by:

7:30 PM. Honors Banquet. Open to the media, but a ticket ($40) must be purchased no later than Monday, May 25. To attend, contact Kristen Hansen at AGU through May 22 (202-462-6910 x382), or stop by the pre-registration desk at the Hynes Convention Center on Monday, May 25. Seating is limited; no special press facilities. Boston Marriott Hotel, Copley Place.

Thursday, May 28

12:15 PM. Cleaning up polluted ground water: can nature outdo technology? Press conference. Engineered methods of cleaning up contaminated aquifers are expensive, yet often ineffective. Kathryn M. Hess, Research Hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Marlborough, Massachusetts, describes experiments in which natural processes have restored polluted ground water at low cost. One local example concerns sewage contamination on Cape Cod. Other projects elsewhere cover groundwater contamination from hydrocarbons, explosives, synthetic organic compounds, and landfills. (Meeting sessions on this and related topics will be held all day Thursday.)

1:30 PM. Do auroras recognize coastlines? Press conference. A phenomenon first reported in 1839 but given little credence at the time has now been confirmed by cameras aboard the Polar spacecraft. Aided by spectacular images, Dr. Louis A. Frank of the University of Iowa's Department of Physics and Astronomy will describe how some auroras follow the coastline for hundreds of miles and how the coastline may deflect or dim the auroral arc. At present, no theory satisfactorily explains this relatively rare occurrence. (Meeting sessions on auroral phenomena will be held Friday afternoon.)

3:30 PM. Gathering scientific data in the harshest climate on Earth. Press conference. Automatic Geophysical Observatories (AGO's) are unstaffed stations working year round in Antarctica, where they study upper atmospheric flows, aurora, and the "weather" in outer space. Dr. Louis J. Lanzerotti of Bell Laboratories will describe the enormous technical difficulties scientists had to overcome to assure that AGO's, which are in many ways analogous to spacecraft, work properly year round in Earth's harshest environment. (Meeting sessions on AGO will be held Friday.)

Friday, May 29

9:30 AM. TRACE: The latest news from the Sun, available to everyone. Press conference. Just recently launched, the TRACE observatory is already exceeding expectations in beaming back information on the dynamic processes of the Sun. Dr. Alan Title of the Stanford Lockheed Institute for Space Research in Palo Alto, California, will present dramatic images of the Sun, including new insights into magnetic reconnection, a fundamental process that governs many dynamic solar phenomena. All data from TRACE are freely available to the public in near real time. (The Meeting session on TRACE will be later Friday morning.)

American Geophysical Union

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