Cross-cutting themes
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GDB – Great Debates

Programme Group Chairs: Athanasios Nenes, Maria-Helena Ramos


Is the velocity of tectonic plate movement constant, or does it fluctuate through geological time? Does the rate of seafloor spreading vary at individual mid-ocean ridges? Is there a link between plate velocity, subduction flux and the magmatic flare-ups in convergent margins? Could the peaks in global spectra of U-Pb zircon ages record periods of accelerated mantle convection leading to faster subduction? How realistic are models of rifting or subduction that assume constant plate motion?

The panelists will debate the motion that plate motions are constant. To support their arguments they will draw on observational and physical arguments spanning the full range of solid-earth disciplines. We explicitly encourage audience participation.

Public information:

The debate is in Oxford Union style:

1)  Introduction of the motion

2) 1st speakers of the teams argue the motion

3) Team discussion

4) 2nd speakers of the teams rebut the arguments of the other team

5) Questions from the audience

6) Final statements


  • Boris Kaus, Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany
  • Alexandre Janin, Boston College, United States of America
  • Andres Rodríguez Corcho
  • Colleen Dalton, Brown University, United States of America
Convener: Nicholas T. Arndt | Co-conveners: Susanne Buiter, Sabin ZahirovicECSECS
Tue, 16 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST)
Room E1
Tue, 14:00

Studies in recent years have provided evidence for the potential link between climate change and increased earthquake activity. For instance, seismicity has been shown to increase in former glaciated regions (Hampel et al., 2010; Stewart et al., 2000). An explanation for this is that glacier melting reduces the massive weight on the earth’s crust, causing it to bounce back through the process known as “isostatic rebound” (Masih, 2018). While this may be applicable in regions of extensive ice sheets like Greenland and Antarctica, the mechanism is less clear in areas of smaller ice caps.
Meanwhile, droughts that are expected to intensify in a warming climate have been identified as another potential trigger for increased seismicity. Alternating periods of drought and heavy rain have been shown to cause the “rise and fall” of mountain ranges (Argus et al., 2017), the resulting stress changes of which could potentially be felt on nearby faults, particularly where these faults are already in a critical state. Amos et al. (2014) also showed that excessive groundwater pumping, which is exacerbated during droughts, may cause stress regime change on nearby faults by “unweighting” the earth’s crust. In the Appenines, trends in the temporal correlation between geodetic displacement and seismicity indicate that the poroelastic deformation resulting from karst aquifer recharge is modulating the occurrence rate of seismicity (D’Agostino et al., 2018, Picozzi et al., 2022)
Moreover, a recent study (Steer et al., 2020) shows that typhoons, which are expected to intensify in the future, could temporarily change the seismicity of a region significantly. Super typhoons could cause extensive erosion and landslides, removing enormous loads that could then change the state of stress in the upper part of the Earth’s crust. Li et al. (2020) arrived at a similar conclusion, attributing several M>6 earthquakes in Central Taiwan to typhoon-induced erosion and landslides.
From the foregoing, are we now really uncovering how deeply sensitive our planet is, and how interconnected its systems are? Could changes in our atmospheric, hydrospheric and cryospheric systems as a result of climate change really bring about damaging geospheric processes such as earthquakes? Where are we in terms of understanding this connection? How will this affect the way we evaluate and mitigate seismic risks? These are among the questions we are hoping our proposed Great Debate session can shed light to.

Co-sponsored by JpGU, DGGV, and AGU
Convener: Mary Antonette Beroya-Eitner | Co-conveners: Fabrice Cotton, Kate NelsonECSECS
| Thu, 18 Apr, 08:30–10:15 (CEST)
Room E1
Thu, 08:30

For the first time in Earth’s history, one species has developed such power to shape the planet that a new geological age has been identified and named in its honour: that age is The Anthropocene, and the species is us. Our power and influence are now so great that our actions are the primary factors impacting the planet’s landscapes, climate, environment, ecology, and ultimately its future habitability for us, and all other living species.
Whilst humanity’s impact on global climate systems is widely recognised, recent years have produced numerous extreme weather events, including unprecedented heat on land and in the oceans, and record-breaking wildfires: a devastating reality that not long ago seemed a distant future. A worrying indication that, although overall planetary heating is roughly in line with predictions, increases in extreme weather events are occurring faster and with a greater severity than projected, possibly indicating that climatic tipping points have already been breached.

Perhaps lower in widespread public awareness, but equally critical, is that we are in the midst of what is being referred to as “Earth’s Sixth Great Extinction”. With the loss of species running at between 1,000 and 10,000 times natural rates, our actions threaten the intricate web of life that has made our planet so favourable for supporting a rich diversity of life, including ourselves.

Against the backdrop of these unprecedented events and their impacts, there are worrying signs of a green backlash, with individuals, political groups, and industry protesting the steps that are being taken to transition us toward a net zero and resilient future.

In this session, we will explore the critical role of communicating our scientific results to make sure society will effectively mitigate these threats. We will debate the vital role of scientists in addressing this societal greenlash, as well as the increase in greenwashing, and our role in shaping solutions to avoid a catastrophic mass extinction event. Furthermore, we will discuss the tools and pathways needed to ensure that we are able to take everyone with us on our way to a greener and more resilient future.

Public information:

We are very excited to welcome the following contributors to this great debate: 

•    Prof. Michael E. Mann: Presidential Distinguished Professor of Earth & Environmental Science at the University of Pennsylvania with a secondary appointment in the Annenberg School for Communication. He is also director of the Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media (PCSSM).
•    Prof. Anusha Shah: Senior director for resilient cities and the UK climate adaptation lead at Arcadis, current President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
•    Kelsey Beltz: Global partnerships and education lead at The Good Lobby
•    Carlos Shanka: Youth Delegate, Youth Environment Assembly at UN Environment Programme

Questions from the audience will form a significant part of this session, so come prepared, but please, please, please, be succinct..! Time is limited, so we will allow no question to take longer than 40 seconds to ask....! 


  • Anusha Shah
  • Michael Mann
  • Kelsey Beltz, The Good Lobby , Belgium
  • Carlos Shanka Boissy Diaz, Global Shapers Las Palmas, Spain
Convener: Nick Everard | Co-conveners: Chloe Hill, Hayley Fowler, Noel Baker, Rolf Hut
Tue, 16 Apr, 16:15–18:00 (CEST)
Room E1
Tue, 16:15

The "Early Warnings for All (EW4ALL)" initiative announced by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General in March 2022 is a ground-breaking effort to ensure that everyone on Earth is protected from hazardous weather, water or climate events through life-saving early warning systems by the end of 2027. Delivering on this call requires global collaboration: the initiative is co-led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and supported by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

EW4ALL is built around four key pillars:
1. Disaster risk knowledge and management
2. Detection, observation, monitoring, analysis, and forecasting
3. Warning dissemination and communication
4. Preparedness and response capabilities

Despite advancements related to weather, water and climate, there are still scientific and technological challenges that need to be addressed in order to improve the provision of accurate and effective early warnings for a variety of hazards. For instance, advancements are needed to improve impact-based, people-centered forecasting and warning systems, as well as to enhance our understanding of how climate will continue to change and vary in order to ensure that multi-hazard early warnings are effective not only in today’s conditions, but also in the future. Research is also needed to better understand how to best communicate warnings and uncertainty to ensure that warnings are understood and acted upon, or to understand how machine learning and artificial intelligence can help setting high-quality impact-focused and timely operational forecasts.

In this debate, we will discuss those challenges for scientists working in the field of natural hazards monitoring and forecasting, impacts and disaster prevention, and social sciences. We will discuss how to address them through scientific and technological innovations, enabling this action plan and providing early warnings for all.


  • Ben Webster, IFRC, Switzerland
  • Carina Fearnley, UCL, United Kingdom
  • Michael Staudinger, World Bank, United States of America
  • Andrea Toreti, European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Italy
  • Maryam Rokhideh, UCL, United Kingdom
Convener: Elena Xoplaki | Co-conveners: Ilias Pechlivanidis, Monique Kuglitsch, Maria-Helena Ramos
| Thu, 18 Apr, 10:45–12:30 (CEST)
Room E1
Thu, 10:45

As themes of climate change, environment, nature, and hazards dominate global headlines, the need for sound, timely, and digestible scientific advice in public policymaking is on the rise. Many Unions and Societies representing breadth of the geoscience community are working to put geoscience at the heart of emergent and evolving policy topics by operating some kind of science-policy function. By working to promote evidence-informed solutions to global societal challenges, these units aim to integrate science into global policy, and represent the geoscience community in global policy considerations, but are they delivering?

This debate will explore the challenges and successes geoscience unions and societies worldwide have experience by engaging in various ways with the science policy process. It will explore whether such representative organisations are fulfilling the expectations of the communities they represent, and ask how they could expand and evolve the science policy service that they provide.

Public information:

This GDB is a joint effort of the "Task Team on Global Policy Advice" of the Global Geoscience Societies - a loose consortium composed of AGU, EGU, GSL, JpGU, IUGG, IUGS, and other globally active geoscience unions and societies.


  • Joel Gill, Cardiff University, United Kingdom
  • Tamsin Edwards, King's College London, United Kingdom
  • Alessandro Allegra, European Commission, Belgium
  • Vanessa McBride, International Science Council, France
Co-sponsored by IUGG and GSL
Convener: Megan O'DonnellECSECS | Co-conveners: John Ludden, Alex/ander Rudloff, Elena Robinson
| Tue, 16 Apr, 08:30–10:15 (CEST)
Room E1
Tue, 08:30

Numerous geoscientists are producing and disseminating knowledge about climate change and contemporary environmental degradation to increasingly wider audiences, from civil society to policymakers. This knowledge is notably gathered in alarming reports by scientific institutions such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and it indicates that rapid and radical transformations of our societies are simply vital.

Still, ongoing efforts to trigger such transformations, whether by political, economic, or civil society stakeholders, often fall short of the urgent actions recommended. It has increasingly been suggested that putting most efforts into ever-improving knowledge and communication is a strategy that can only address part of the obvious gap between Science and the required societal change (see review articles by Stoddard et al., 2021 and Oreskes, 2022).

In light on this, and given the emergencies clearly informed by scientific consensus, we contend that the adequate question for a great debate is not whether scientists should engage more into facing the crisis, but how they should do it. Specifically, which forms of engagement are suitable for scientists if they acknowledge that a) science must be effective at the policy level and b) that informing is simply not enough? Should they enter the political arena (as citizens or as scientists)? With which type of collectives, communities, and with which strategy? Should they prioritize legitimacy or legality? Answering these questions requires assessing and discussing both the benefits (i.e., effects in terms of radical transformation of the society, for example with disinvestment from Universities and banks from the fossil fuel industry), and costs (i.e., potential backlash against scientist credibility or against the autonomy -financial or political- of scientific institutions) of scientific engagement in our era.

Oreskes, N.: The trouble with the supply-side model of science, Proc.Indian Natl. Sci. Acad., 88, 824–828, https://doi.org/10.1007/s43538-022-00121-1, 2022.
Stoddard, I., et al.: Three Decades of Climate Mitigation: Why Haven’t We Bent the Global Emissions Curve?, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 46, 653–689, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-012220-011104, 2021.

Public information:

This GDB is part of a series of events about engagement, co-organized during EGU 2024 by scientists active in Scientist Rebellion, including a social dinner (Tue) and a EOS session (Mon). All details here : https://linktr.ee/sr_egu24


  • Sonia Seneviratne, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • Julia Steinberger, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Augustin Fragnière, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • oscar Berglund, Bristol, United Kingdom
Convener: Riccardo Riva | Co-conveners: Odin Marc, Marthe WensECSECS
| Fri, 19 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST)
Room E1
Fri, 14:00

Climate change, biodiversity loss, and artificial intelligence are contemporary challenges that demand evidence-based policy decisions; it is therefore critical that researchers actively engage in providing insights and expertise to support decision-making. Engaging with the media and civil society can play an important role in building public trust and understanding of scientific research, and helping citizens understand policy measures and make informed decisions. However, there are several challenges researchers, especially early-career researchers (ECRs), face when interested in engaging with stakeholders and the policy-making process. These include institutional, social, cultural and personal barriers such as lack of mentoring and trust from senior researchers, lack of professional recognition/reward, lack of access to policy-makers, professional instability, or lack of confidence and training.
In this debate we will explore how to enable the sustainable engagement of ECRs with the policy landscape. What role can ECRs play in bridging the gap between scientific knowledge and policy implementation? How can early career researchers navigate the intricate mechanisms of stakeholder engagement? What significant challenges and barriers do they face and how can these be overcome?
In an open dialogue with the audience, our panellists will discuss strategies and mechanisms for collaboration between young researchers and policy-makers, and identify pathways to develop an effective dialogue that would help lead to evidence-informed actions and decisions. We will explore the role of funding agencies, scientific academies and organizations, senior researchers, early-career networks and the media. How can these different actors adapt to support ECRs in engaging with society? What collaborative efforts can be fostered to empower the next generation of scientific leaders?
The panel will be moderated by a science journalist and include members from funding agencies, scientific academies and organizations, senior researchers, and early-career networks. This session is a joint initiative of the EU-funded research projects OptimESM and ESM2025, which aim to develop the new generation of Earth system models and further our understanding on the evolution of the Earth system.

Public information:


Ayesha Tandon: science journalist, Carbon Brief


  • Beth Dingley: Science and Communications Officer, WCRP Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) International Project Office
  • Faten Bahar: Young Earth System Scientists (YESS) community
  • Chloe Hill: EGU Policy Manager 
  • Richard Tavares: Project Adviser, European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA)
  • Roland Séférian: Senior climate researcher, Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques (CNRM)


  • Ayesha Tandon, Carbon Brief, United Kingdom
  • Beth Dingley, WCRP, United Kingdom
  • Chloe Hill, European Geosciences Union, Germany
  • Faten Attig Bahar, University of Carthage, Tunisia
  • Richard Tavares, CINEA, Belgium
  • Roland Séférian, CNRM (Université de Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS), France
Convener: Helena Martins | Co-conveners: Hazel Jeffery, Stefanie RyndersECSECS
| Mon, 15 Apr, 14:00–15:45 (CEST)
Room E1
Mon, 14:00

The academic landscape consistently emphasizes the importance of mobility. Researchers, particularly those in the early stage of their careers, undergo increasing pressures as international mobility becomes a key requirement for securing academic positions. Academic mobility fosters global collaboration, enriches research perspectives, and increases the productivity of the individual and the research group, thereby accelerating innovation, but it comes with a myriad of challenges; particularly for academics in relationships (whether with other academics or partners pursuing different career paths), third-country nationals, and individuals facing social inequalities in the access to opportunities and resources.

Focusing on Europe, the EU has introduced policies to encourage and increase cross-border mobility in the European Research Area context. However, the EU's free movement policy still has gaps which can present obstacles.

Do the opportunities provided by academic mobility outweigh the challenges associated with it? How can the EU and academic institutions address the paradox of promoting academic mobility while also catering to the diverse needs and challenges faced by the modern academic, especially in light of relationship and nationality constraints? What are the challenges faced by displaced scientists and what can the scientific community do to address these challenges? In this great debate, we ask these questions and consider the perspective of different nationals, policies around researcher mobility in the EU, present and proposed institutional frameworks for inequalities we see in academic mobility and gendered implications.

Convener: Öykü KoçECSECS | Co-conveners: David Fernández-Blanco, Simon ClarkECSECS, Liliana MacotelaECSECS, Christina Anna OrieschnigECSECS
| Tue, 16 Apr, 10:45–12:30 (CEST)
Room E1
Tue, 10:45

Technological developments have always had an impact on the evolution of scientific publishing, transitioning from ink and paper to its current electronic format. In this context, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made its way to the process of publishing research results.
The advent of Large Language Models (LLM) which are capable of generating various types of textual content, raised concerns within the scientific community with regards to presenting research output. This new technological revolution is developing at a fast pace, with possibly significant consequences for scientific publications.
On the one hand, the benefits of generative AI include the improvement of readability of scientific papers by more structured and efficient writing, and refining language. On the other hand, AI-generated text may be inaccurate, incomplete and may carry biases possibly harmful to scholarly literature. In this scenario, how will the surge in the use of AI impact the credibility of published papers? How can we ensure accountability, integrity and responsibility of authors, editors, and reviewers? How can scientific achievement be assessed in publications? What is the extent to which the use of AI tools may introduce biases and inequalities in published texts? What are possibilities for the efficient, reliable, and beneficial use of AI tools in the peer review process?
Join us in this great debate to discuss the ‘blessing and bane’ of AI usage in scientific publishing and how to make best use of its potential and fast developments within the scientific publishing community.
Panel members will include editors of (EGU) journals, authors, and other members of the scientific publishing community.

Public information:

The rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, including Large Language Models (LLM), presents both challenges and opportunities for scientific publishing. How can we use these tools responsibly and effectively? 

To address the topic from different perspectives, this Great Debate brings together four experts:

  • Fernanda Matos, PhD candidate, Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Germany
  • Marie Soulière, Head of Publication Ethics and Quality Assurance, Frontiers, Switzerland
  • Tina Treude, Professor, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Executive Editor, EGU Journals (Biogeosciences), USA
  • Tony Ross-Hellauer, Senior Researcher, Graz University of Technology and Know-Center GmbH, Austria

The discussion will explore several aspects of the topic, including: 

  •   Best practices in employing AI tools for scientific writing 
  •   The potential of AI to assist in the peer review process
  •   Responsibilities and ethical considerations for authors, reviewers, editors and publishers 


  • Fernanda DI Alzira Oliveira Matos, Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany
  • Marie Soulière, Frontiers Media SA, Switzerland
  • Tina Treude, University of California, Los Angeles, United States of America
  • Tony Ross-Hellauer
Convener: Barbara Ervens | Co-convener: Eduardo Queiroz AlvesECSECS
Fri, 19 Apr, 10:45–12:30 (CEST)
Room E1
Fri, 10:45

Intersectionality refers to a combination of identity and social factors which combine to create different modes of discrimination in the geoscience community. Factors include but are not limited to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, disability, age, and religion. Different combinations of factors can interact to enhance (or reduce) the possibility that persons may experience discriminating behaviours such as sexism, racism, ableism, and colonialism.
In the geoscience community, where global issues require international collaboration, these factors are more likely to interact and be displayed. At all career levels, from undergraduate and postgraduate students to mid- and late-career researchers, intersectionality is present. Non-inclusive working environments ultimately create an atmosphere of discriminatory behavior which leads to abandonment of academic careers.
Institutional level initiatives that are clearly functional are key to not only promote but assure and protect inclusivity. In turn, this builds a positive and productive working environment, promotes the mental well-being of all scientists, and gives everyone the opportunity to reach their greatest potential.
In this great debate, we will address a series of intersectional factors and how they may be compounded in adverse (and positive) ways. We will discuss ways and means to invest in intersectional issues and the cost and value of promoting inclusion of all diversities with equitable initiatives.


  • Clara Barker, University of Oxford, Northern Ireland
  • Helen Glaves, British Geological Survey, United Kingdom
  • Ivica Vilibić, Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia
  • Chiara Xausa, University of Bologna, Italy
Convener: Anita Di Chiara | Co-conveners: Evguenia Roussak, Helen Glaves, Ivica Vilibić
| Wed, 17 Apr, 10:45–12:30 (CEST)
Room E1
Wed, 10:45