Last week I was in Vienna, Austria, attending the 2014 European Geophysical Union (EGU) General Assembly. It was a scientific smorgasbord laid in front of over 12,000 people from 106 countries. Over 4,800 oral presentations were given and 9,500 posters displayed, this was coupled with a variety of other sessions and an exhibition; which created a varied programme. I really liked the plan to create smart umbrellas to collect rain data, which has already received press coverage.

My EGU experience began with a poster summary session on the Thursday morning; these are short three minute presentations giving delegates a flavour of the posters being displayed to encourage people to come and see them. I then moved onto watching presentations and visiting the posters.

Two presentations really caught my eye. The first was about NASA’s upcoming mission Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) which will be studying ocean surface winds using reflected Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals that are primarily used for positioning, such as within your mobile phone, and timing measurements. This technique, often called GNSS reflectometry, was previously demonstrated on the SSTL’s UK-DMC-1 mission.

The second one focussed on using the altimeter SARAL/AltiKa to study storm Xaver that impacted the southern North Sea / northern Europe with hurricane force winds and a tidal surge at the beginning of December 2013. Launched in February 2013, SARAL/AltiKa is a new collaboration between the French Space Agency (CNES) and Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) filling a gap left by the loss of ESA’s Envisat as it has the same ground track; while we wait for the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission that will include altimetry, ocean colour and sea surface temperature instruments.

On the Friday I presented a poster on an ESA project I’m involved with titled E-Collaboration for Earth Observation (E-CEO), which addresses the technologies and architectures needed to provide a collaborative research platform for automating data mining and information extraction experiments. Our aim is to run Earth Observation challenges akin to those used to solve computing tasks, and the poster presented the first of the challenges – focusing on the atmospheric correction of ocean colour imagery.