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Report from EGU 2018

Last week EGU General Assembly (GA) 2018 took place in Vienna, Austria, and it was packed with interesting sessions and inspiring presentations. The o2r team humbly tried to contribute to a massive conference: 15075 participants from 106 countries gave 17323 presentations in 666 sessions (it’s been reported the programme committee briefly discussed adding a session…), taught 68 short courses, and collaborated in 294 side events. Let’s go through the events with o2r participation in chronological order.

EGU 2018 conference banner

Image courtesy of EGU website.

On Monday, Daniel joined the first ever EarthArXiv townhall meeting. He was happy to share his stickers with a small but engaged crowd and experienced an open-minded discussion about the young community-led EarthArXiv (already over 300 pre- and postprints after a little over 6 months), preprints, postprints, and the bigger picture of Open Access in the context of the two large conferences in the geosciences, EGU GA and the AGU Fall Meeting. AGU’s cooperation with ESSOAr on abstracts and poster publications was presented at the meeting by Brooks Hanson. The event went really well and it was fun to meet fellow Open Science enthusiasts Friedrich Hawemann and David Fernandez-Blanco (the mastermind behind the gif-loaden entertaining tweets by @EarthArXiv).

On Tuesday the evening events continued with the always enjoyable OSGeo townhall meeting. Its theme was “Open Science demystified” and organiser Peter Löwe nicely connected the spirit and goals of an Open Source organisation with Open Science. As usual, it did not take long until newcomers could be helped with concrete advise on software, development, and transformation to FOSS for organisations by the attending mix of FOSS users, developers, contributors, and old-timers.

On Wednesday Daniel had to shift his attention to the early morning. In the PICO session IE4.4, “R and the benefit of low-cost solutions - democratic participation to face challenges in Earth science”, he demonstrated the usefulness of rocker/geospatial for science with a number of showcases in a PICO presentation slot packed with exciting projects and software presentation.

In the same session, Edzer presented “R vector and raster data cubes for openEO”, his latest work to continue the evolution for spatial data handling in R and connecting it to openEO. Both o2r team members could welcome many interested scientists at their PICO screens and had to stay until the very end answering questions and discussing the depths of the respective implementations.

On Thursday afternoon Daniel was joined by Markus and good friends of o2r from New York, Vicky and Remi from NYU Center for Data Science and ReproZip, to continue the collaboration on teaching tools for Open Science and Reproducible Research at EGU. They welcomed a large audience (70+ people) to the short course “Writing reproducible geoscience papers using R Markdown, Docker, and GitLab”. The course was hands-on, so participants worked with their own laptops. Hopefully most of them arrived safely home with a working research environment for R and git. The course’s contents and speed are adjusted to accommodate the diverse previous knowledge from a multidisciplinary conference such as EGU. Inspired by the great Carpentry courses, but considerably shorter and more dense, all conveners/teachers were active at the same time to lead through the instructions and help fixing the many little issues during software installations. We tried hard to leave no one hanging behind and albeit being confronted with an estimated number of 6 operating systems the RStudio-based instructions stood their ground excellently and we are glad to have received numerous positive feedbacks from participants.

The course material is available openly online at and if you could not be there, be sure to try and check out the Twitter hashtag #egu18repro for some impressions. The course is roughly split in two sessions à 90 minutes:

We sincerely thank the attendees for the useful questions and the positive atmosphere at the course! People were helping each other and showed patience when little breaks had to be taken to solve individual issues. We welcome comments, ideas and suggestions in the GitLab repository of the course. We hope it’s not the last time we can use the material ourselves but also invite everybody to use it. It contains numerous links to more detailed courses and we thank the R and Open Science communities for the breadth of existing tutorials and the inspiration they provide.

The evening belonged to yet another townhall meeting: “Research Software Engineers in the Geosciences”. Daniel initiated this meeting to bring together researchers developing software, or software developers doing research, to get to know the existing national chapters and initiatives as well as each other. A diverse group came together from different countries and scientific divisions to share their experiences and to discuss how to improve the situation for RSEs in the geosciences (see de-RSE’s objectives). A more detailed report from the townhall will follow in due course on the de-RSE Blog, until then see Daniel’s full thread on Twitter.

On Friday it was time for PICOs and posters. Daniel and Markus presented “Open Environmental Data Analysis” and “Reproducible research bindings” respectively in the session “Open Data, Reproducible Research, and Open Science”. Again we enjoyed fruitful discussions and missed out on the interesting other presentations as we were fortunate enough to be visited by interested people throughout the whole viewing time.

Later that morning Edzer presented a poster on “openEO: an open API for cloud-based big Earth Observation processing platforms” (abstract) in the session “Data cubes of Big Earth Data - a new paradigm for accessing and processing Earth Science Data”.

We are happy to thank the great people from Copernicus, the organisers of the conference and a great supporter of Open Science as well as a partner of o2r, who we got to meet and catch up with. The conference has been great and here we only scratch the surface of fun, entertaining and educational experiences where o2r team members presented or convened and lack the many times we met new people and communities, colleagues, and friends to talk science.

Thanks for reading!

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