World’s Largest Earth and Space Science Meeting to Take
Place in New Orleans, then Washington, D.C.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has announced that its
annual Fall Meeting, an event that regularly attracts more
than 25,000 Earth and space scientists and other
participants from around the world, will move to New Orleans
in 2017 and to Washington, D.C. in 2018.
For nearly 50 years, the AGU Fall Meeting has been held in
San Francisco. During that time, it has grown from a
gathering of a few hundred researchers to the largest Earth
and space science event in the world. In 2015, it included
more than 23,000 poster and oral presentations; hundreds of
networking, education and social events; lectures from
prominent speakers like Elon Musk and Dr. France Cordova,
director of the National Science Foundation; and the launch
of a new XPRIZE for ocean discovery. Construction associated
with a major renovation of San Francisco’s Moscone Center
that would impact needed space for the meeting prompted the
“The Fall Meeting is a major force in advancing the Earth
and space sciences. If you look back over the last 50 years,
the number of discoveries that were first reported during
one of our sessions or in our poster hall is staggering,”
said AGU’s Executive Director/CEO Christine McEntee.
“Maintaining that level of excellence is a significant
responsibility for AGU, and we are committed to finding new
and innovative ways to help our attendees share their
science with one another and with the world. I believe the
opportunities that await us in New Orleans and Washington
will contribute greatly to the achievement of that goal.”
This world-renowned event draws scientists from around the
globe and across the spectrum of the Earth and space
sciences, including areas such as hydrology, climate
science, ocean research, space physics, planetary science,
seismology, tectonophysics, volcanology, atmospheric science
and Earth and space science informatics. Attendees come from
academia and the public and private sectors, and typically
represent nearly 100 different countries. In 2015, more than
7,600 students attended the meeting. The event also draws
hundreds of exhibitors and vendors, ranging from equipment
manufacturers and technology companies, to academic
institutions and government agencies.
The meeting will remain in San Francisco in 2016, and plans
are underway to return to the City by the Bay, in 2019 when
AGU hopes to celebrate its Centennial in the newly renovated
AGU SENDS LETTER TO FEDERAL AGENCIES URGING PROTECTION
OF SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY AND OPEN COMMUNICATION OF
AGU wrote to federal agency heads on January 26, expressing
concern over recent reports about violations of scientific
integrity and interference with public access to and
communication of scientific information.
In the letter AGU emphasized scientific integrity and
transparency as critical to "advancing national security, a
strong economy, public health, and food security." AGU calls
on the agencies, and the administration, to reverse policies
that threaten scientific integrity and open communication as
soon as possible and urges that they not be reinstated.
"Access to scientific information improves and informs many
aspects of our everyday lives," said Chris McEntee, AGU's
Executive Director and CEO. "AGU will be monitoring to see
if the policies have been lifted and whether the scientific
information that is currently available remains. It is
critical to our economic success, national security and
public health that the American people continue to receive
to the most up-to-date scientific research and information."
The letter was sent to the following agencies and
Department of Agriculture
Department of Energy
Department of the Interior
Department of State
Environmental Protection Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Park Service
National Science Foundation
United States Geological Survey
AGU has a position statement related to scientific integrity
entitled, "AGU Supports Free and Open Communication of
Scientific Findings." The statement was adopted in 2011 and
reaffirmed in September 2016.
In late 2016, AGU launched a petition calling on the new
administration to make the appointment of a scientific
advisor a top priority. The petition currently has nearly
For more information contact AGU, 2000 Florida Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20009; (202) 462-6900, www.agu.org.
American Meteorological Society
Milestones for the AMS Education Program
In a milestone year for the now 25-year-old AMS Education
Program, one of the proudest achievements was the successful
completion of the five-year AMS Climate Studies Diversity
Project. This NSF-funded initiative introduced and enhanced
geoscience and/or sustainability teaching at nearly 100
minority-serving institutions (MSIs) since 2011.
The AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans was the final event in
the project; it included a Sunday workshop bringing together
18 faculty from minority-serving institutions who had
attended the project’s May 2015 workshop on implementing the
AMS Climate Studies course. The faculty not only attended
the workshop; they also presented at the subsequent
Education Symposium of the Annual Meeting.
Overall in the Climate Studies Diversity Project, AMS was
able to partner with Second Nature, a nonprofit working
toward societal sustainability through a network of colleges
and universities, to recruit 101 faculty to attend Climate
Studies workshops in Washington, D.C. to learn from top
scientists at Howard University, NOAA, and NASA. The
attendees then incorporated the AMS Climate Studies course
materials, real-time data, and lessons in their teaching.
Since 2001, in faculty enhancement through the AMS Weather
Studies and Ocean Studies courses and now the Climate
Studies Diversity Project, AMS has engaged 24,000 students
through 220 MSIs.
For more information, contact AMS, 45 Beacon Street, Boston,
MA 02108; (617) 227-2425, www.ametsoc.org.
American Society of Civil Engineers
Report Estimates Failure to Act on Infrastructure Costs
Families $3,400 a Year
ASCE’s Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment
Gap for America’s Economic Future 2016 report,
released May 10, estimates that continued underinvestment in
infrastructure will cost each U.S. family $3,400 a year over
the next decade.
The report is the latest in a series of Failure to Act
studies, launched in 2011, that assesses how the nation’s
failure to improve its infrastructure systems affects
economic performance. The 2016 study builds on the models
established in the 2011 and 2012 research, updating data and
projections for infrastructure in five different sectors:
• surface transportation
• water and wastewater
• inland waterways and marine ports
The analysis shows that in the years since the earlier
reports, various state actions along with some federal
funding measures have helped stabilize the infrastructure
gap, but the overall picture remains – underinvestment is
negatively affecting the nation’s economy. The most
significant gap, according to the report, is in the
transportation sector, where an estimated additional $1
trillion is needed across the network (including roads,
bridges, and rail) during the next decade. For businesses,
this can mean increased production costs, increased cost of
travel, and decreased consumer spending. At home, it can
mean fewer jobs, lower incomes, and more expensive
infrastructure in the form of higher costs for
transportation, electricity, and water.
As daunting as the challenges seem, the majority of the
projections remain in the future tense. The report suggests
that the economic consequences to both families and
businesses could be avoided with an additional investment
from Congress and the states of $144 billion each year.
For more information, contact ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell
Drive, Reston, VA 20191; (800) 548-2723, www.asce.org.
Focus on Sustainability, Leadership Highlight Spring
All civil engineering must be sustainable. That was the
message from the ASCE Committee on Sustainability during its
progress report at the spring Board of Direction meeting,
March 18-19, in Arlington, VA.
It was a message that mixed urgency with optimism as the
committee detailed to the Board the success of its recent
Sustainability Summit and prepared its forthcoming strategic
roadmap for this aspect of the ASCE Sustainable
Infrastructure strategic initiative. The summit brought
civil engineers, educators, and stakeholders together to
discuss the urgent sustainability issues facing the
The committee engaged the Board in a lively discussion about
some of those issues, including the value of keeping the
public’s sustainable well-being front and center in
providing project options for the client, the need for
taking a systems approach to civil engineering, the
importance of engineers being involved during the planning
stage, and the challenges involved in spending more money up
front to get longer-term, life-cycle savings.
The summit outcomes, along with the Board member input, will
help shape the sustainability roadmap – a plan detailing the
initiative’s future direction, to be presented to the Board
For more information, contact ASCE, 1801 Alexander Bell
Drive, Reston, VA 20191; (800) 548-2723, www.asce.org.
American Society of Landscape
Registration Opens for 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting &
EXPO in New Orleans
Registration is now open for the American Society of
Landscape Architects’ (ASLA) 2016 Annual Meeting
& EXPO planned for October 21-24 at the Ernest N.
Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. This annual meeting
is the largest gathering of landscape architecture
professionals and students in the world.
According to ASLA President Chad D. Danos, FASLA, New
Orleans offers a distinctive location for the annual
meeting, themed “A Celebration of Place.”
More than 6,000 attendees are expected, and the meeting will
feature a diverse spectrum of industry experts providing
perspectives on a wide range of subjects, from sustainable
design to active living to best practices and new
More than 130 education sessions, field sessions, and
workshops will be presented during the meeting, providing
attendees with the opportunity to earn up to 21 professional
development hours under the Landscape Architecture
Continuing Education System™ (LA CES™).
Many of the sessions will also qualify for continuing
education credit with the Green Building Certification
Institute (toward LEED AP credential maintenance), the
American Institute of Architects, the American Institute of
Certified Planners, and other allied professional
organizations and state registration boards.
The EXPO—the largest trade show in the industry—will feature
nearly 500 exhibitors offering thousands of new products,
services, technology applications, and design solutions, all
under one roof.
For more information contact ASLA, 636 Eye Street, NW,
Washington, DC 20001; (202) 898-244, www.asla.org.
American Water Resources Association
2016 AWRA Summer Specialty Conference: GIS and Water
Summer Specialty Conference on GIS and Water Resources
will take place in Sacramento, CA on July 11-13, 2016.
Management of water resources requires many decisions, both
long term for planning and short term for operations
management. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a
technology has been used in the water resources domain since
its inception. Traditionally, GIS was focused on data
management and processing to streamline development of
information products based on spatial data, and was thus a
natural fit for water resources implementations. As
technology and its utilization have matured, GIS is more and
more used not only for data acquisition and processing, but
also to directly support water resources decisions. The
"information" products are now becoming "decision" products
that are used on daily basis to support water management
decisions in many domains that water resources covers.
The conference will focus on the role of GIS to support
better decisions across broad spectrum of water resources.
Decisions related to floods, droughts, water quality, and
policy aspects of water resources will be covered.
For more information contact AWRA, P.O. Box 1626,
Middleburg, VA 20118; (540) 687-8390, www.awra.org.
Geological Society of America
GSA Annual Meeting
Annual Meeting will take place in Denver, CO from
September 25-28, 2016. Several scientific field trips are
available as part of the GSA 2016 experience. This includes
an International Student Field Trip to National Parks in the
The field trip is intended to provide an unusual opportunity
for those international participants who travel to the GSA
annual meeting from outside of North America. The national
parks of the western U.S. provide a unique and safe
opportunity to explore some of the world’s most famous and
best-exposed geological regions on the Colorado Plateau and
the central Basin-and-Range Province. The geological goals
are to understand the basic sedimentological, structural,
and geomorphological architecture of the Colorado Plateau,
and to examine the deformational and erosional overprint, as
well as local cultural and environmental highlights of the
Basin-and-Range Province. The trip will start at Frenchman
mountain, Hoover Dam, then swing eastward to Grand Canyon,
Sunset Craters, Wupatki. From there the route heads westward
into the Basin and Range Province via Death Valley.
For more information, contact GSA, P.O. Box 9140, Boulder,
CO 80301; (303) 357-1806, www.geosociety.org.
Society of Environmental Toxicology
Advancing the Adverse Outcome Pathway Concept
Regulatory agencies and industry worldwide are confronted
with the challenging task of assessing the risks of
thousands of chemicals to the environment and human health.
Traditional toxicity testing strategies rely on whole animal
studies, which, in addition to ethical concerns, are cost
and time prohibitive. As a result, the utility of
mechanistic-based approaches to support chemical safety
evaluations have increasingly been explored. One approach
that has gained traction for capturing available knowledge
for describing the linkage between mechanistic data and
apical toxicity endpoints required for regulatory
assessments is the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) framework.
SETAC is initiating a Horizon Scanning effort to advance the
science and application of the AOP framework. This approach
will help identify and begin to address recognized,
on-going, and remaining issues relevant to the application
of the AOP framework to chemical risk assessment in the
context of both human and ecological health. SETAC is
asking members of the global scientific community to propose
questions that consider key outstanding or limitations that
must be addressed in order to realize the full potential of
the AOP framework in research and regulatory decision-
making. Questions can be submitted
through June 30, 2016.
For more information, contact SETAC, 229 S. Baylen Street,
Pensacola, FL 32502; (850) 469-1500, www.setac.org.
Society of Wood Science and
2017 IUFRO Conference
The 2017 International Union of Forest Research
Organizations (IUFRO) Conference will take place from June
12-16, 2017 in Vancouver, BC. In recognition of the pressing
global need for the forest sector to be a leader in
sustainability, diversification, and innovation, the theme
of the conference is “Forest Sector Innovations for a
This Innovation/Sustainability theme will form a unifying
basis for the week-long Conference and will guide the agenda
through a series of plenary sessions that will catalyze
discussion on what the future forest products sector might
look like. Each morning will feature two keynote
presentations; one a research-based talk featuring a
prominent academic, the other a more pragmatic, real-world
talk featuring a prominent practitioner from industry,
government, civil society, or an indigenous community.
Plenary topics include:
▪ Forest Sector Innovation: How can
innovative forest sector based environmental and social
approaches assure a greener future for our global
▪ Innovations in Forest Products and
Services: How will fiber and forests be used in the near and
▪ Innovations in Wood Building and Design:
What will the next generation’s needs for shelter and
buildings be and how will they be met?
▪ Innovations in Forest Management, Policy
and Market: Will there be enough biomass and sustainable
products to support the growing global
▪ Innovations in Business Models and
Management: What will the businesses of forestry look like
in the near and long-term?
For more information contact SWST, P.O. Box 6155, Monona, WI
53716; (608) 577-1342, www.swst.org.
International Academy of Wood Science (IAWS) Celebrates
50th Anniversary in Paris, France
IAWS celebrated its 50th anniversary in the city where it
was founded in 1966-- Paris, France. The celebration was
held from June 1 to 6, 2016. Over 70 attendees from 20
countries were treated to an excellent conference with the
theme: "Wood Science for the Future," held in the historic
rooms of the French Academy of Agriculture in central Paris
near the Seine River. Thirty technical talks were presented
related to the theme of the conference. SWST has had several
of its members elected to the Academy since its inception
and several members participated in this celebration.
Gerd Wegener from the Technical University of Munich was
honored with the Academy Lecture for his outstanding
achievements in wood science and his long-year support of
the Academy, e.g. as the editor-in-chief of SWST's journal
"Wood Science and Technology" from 1996-2013. His Lecture
"1966-2016: Science and Use of Wood in a Changing World"
focused on the increasing global role of forests and wood
utilization for a future post-fossil society. Another
highlight of the conference was the presentation by Michaela
Zauner who won the 2015 IAWS PhD Award for an outstanding
thesis/dissertation research at the PhD level from ETH in
Zürich, Switzerland. Her topic was "In-situ
Synchrotron-Based Tomographic Microscopy of Uniaxial Loaded
Wood: In-situ Testing Device, Procedures and Experimental
An estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are
attributable to unhealthy environments
An estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living
or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012—nearly 1 in 4
of total global deaths, according to new estimates from WHO.
Environmental risk factors such as air, water and soil
pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and
ultraviolet radiation contribute to more than 100 diseases
Noncommunicable diseases contribute to largest share of
environment-related deaths. The second edition of the
report, Preventing disease through healthy environments: a
global assessment of the burden of disease from
environmental risks, reveals that since the report was first
published a decade ago, deaths due to noncommunicable
diseases (NCDs), mostly attributable to air pollution
(including exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke), amount to
as much as 8.2 million of these deaths. NCDs, such as
stroke, heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory
disease, now amount to nearly two-thirds of the total deaths
caused by unhealthy environments.
At the same time, deaths from infectious diseases, such as
diarrhea and malaria, often related to poor water,
sanitation and waste management, have declined. Increases in
access to safe water and sanitation have been key
contributors to this decline, alongside better access to
immunization, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and
“A healthy environment underpins a healthy population,” says
Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “If countries do
not take actions to make environments where people live and
work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die
The report emphasizes cost-effective measures that countries
can take to reverse the upward trend of environment-related
disease and deaths. These include reducing the use of solid
fuels for cooking and increasing access to low-carbon energy
“There’s an urgent need for investment in strategies to
reduce environmental risks in our cities, homes and
workplaces,” said Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department
of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of
Health. “Such investments can significantly reduce the
rising worldwide burden of cardiovascular and respiratory
diseases, injuries, and cancers, and lead to immediate
savings in healthcare costs.”
Environmental risks take their greatest toll on young
children and older people, the report finds, with children
under 5 and adults aged 50 to 75 years most impacted.
Yearly, the deaths of 1.7 million children under 5 and 4.9
million adults aged 50 to 75 could be prevented through
better environmental management. Lower respiratory
infections and diarrheal diseases mostly impact children
under 5, while older people are most impacted by NCDs.
Regionally, the report finds, low- and middle-income
countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific
Regions had the largest environment-related disease burden
in 2012, with a total of 7.3 million deaths, most
attributable to indoor and outdoor air pollution. Further
regional statistics listed in the report include:
• 2.2 million deaths annually in African
• 847 000 deaths annually in Region of the
• 854 000 deaths annually in Eastern
• 1.4 million deaths annually in European
• 3.8 million deaths annually in
South-East Asia Region
• 3.5 million deaths annually in Western
Low- and middle-income countries bear the greatest
environmental burden in all types of diseases and injuries,
however for certain NCDs, such as cardiovascular diseases
and cancers, the per capita disease burden can also be
relatively high in high-income countries.
The report cites proven strategies for improving the
environment and preventing diseases. For instance, using
clean technologies and fuels for domestic cooking, heating
and lighting would reduce acute respiratory infections,
chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and
burns. Increasing access to safe water and adequate
sanitation and promoting hand washing would further reduce
Tobacco smoke-free legislation reduces exposure to
second-hand tobacco smoke, and thereby also reduces
cardiovascular diseases and respiratory infections.
Improving urban transit and urban planning, and building
energy-efficient housing would reduce air pollution-related
diseases and promote safe physical activity.
Many cities around the world are already implementing many
of these cost-effective measures. Curitiba, Brazil has
invested heavily in slum upgrading, waste recycling, and a
popular “bus rapid transit” system which is integrated with
green spaces and pedestrian walkways to encourage walking
and cycling. Despite a five-fold population increase in the
past 50 years, air pollution levels are comparatively lower
than in many other rapidly growing cities and life
expectancy is 2 years longer than the national average.
Through WHO’s water safety plans, which work to identify and
address threats to drinking-water safety, Amarapuri, Nepal
identified open defecation as a water quality hazard
contributing to diseases in the area. As a result, the
village built toilets for each household and was later
declared an Open Defecation Free Zone by the local
Currently, WHO is working with countries to take action on
both indoor and outdoor air pollution. At the World Health
Assembly in May, WHO will propose a road map for an enhanced
global response by the health sector aimed at reducing the
adverse health effects of air pollution.
The second edition of Preventing Disease through Healthy
• Updates the 2006 publication and
presents the latest evidence on environment-disease links
and their devastating impact on global health.
• Systematically analyses and quantifies
how different diseases are impacted by environmental risks,
detailing the regions and populations most
vulnerable to environmentally
mediated death, disease and injury.
• Is exhaustive in its coverage. It
examines the health impacts of environmental risks on more
than 100 diseases and injuries. Some of these
factors are well known, such as unsafe drinking-water and
sanitation, and air pollution and indoor stoves; others less
so, such as climate change or the
• Highlights promising areas for immediate
intervention and gaps where further research is needed to
establish the linkages and quantify the burden of disease
for various environmental risk factors.
International Institute for Sustainable Development
International Day of Forests Celebrates Forests and
Focusing on the multiple links between forests and water
systems, the International Day of Forests was celebrated on
March 21 around the globe. The Day aims to highlight the
role of forests in supplying most of the world's accessible
freshwater as well as building and strengthening resilience,
especially to the impacts of climate change.
In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined
that the world's forests are essential to realizing a shared
vision for people and the planet, and central to the future
prosperity and the stability of the global climate. He
called on governments and partners to adopt holistic
policies and practices to protect, restore, and sustain
Seven key messages are being promoted to make the Day. They
• Forested watersheds and wetlands supply
75% of the world's accessible freshwater for domestic,
agricultural, industrial and ecological needs.
• About one-third of the world's largest
cities obtain a significant proportion of their drinking
water directly from forested protected areas.
• The water security of nearly 80% of the
world's population is threatened.
• Forests act as natural water filters.
• Climate change is altering forests' role
in regulating water flows and influencing the availability
of water sources.
• Improved water resource management can
show considerable economic gains.
• Forests have a crucial role in building
and strengthening resilience.
In a statement marking the Day, Executive Secretary of the
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Braulio Dias noted
that forests are crucial to the sustainable management of
water ecosystems and resources, and that water is essential
for the sustainability of forest ecosystems. Noting that the
links are inseparable, he called for a greater understanding
and appreciation of the value of forests and the ecosystem
services they provide to enable decision makers to better
assess the trade-offs associated with alternatives for land
and water use.
Also for the Day, the International Tropical Timber
Organization (ITTO) highlighted that tropical forests
provide crucial environmental services, and that there is
strong evidence that sustainable forest management can
protect water catchments, thereby helping to maintain
downstream water quality, reducing flooding and
sedimentation, and contributing to local livelihoods.