Media Advisory 3: 2009 Joint Assembly

14 May 2009

Joint Release

24–27 May
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Press conference schedule, Press rooms
Contents of this message:

  1. Press Conference Schedule
  2. Press-conference visuals available to call-ins
  3. Press Rooms
  4. Attention PIOs: Sending press releases to Joint Assembly
  5. News Media Registration Information
  6. Who’s coming

Note: For links to previous media advisories about the 2009 Joint Assembly, please go to the News Media page.

1. Press Conference Schedule

The following schedule of press conferences is subject to change, before or during Joint Assembly. Press conferences may be added or dropped, their titles and emphases may change, and participants may change. All updates to this schedule will be announced in the Press Room (MTCC, South Building, Level 700, Room 709). Press conferences take place in the Press Conference Room (Room 712), which is across the hall.

Times for press conferences are Eastern Daylight Time. Session numbers at the end of each press conference listing may show only the first in a series of related sessions on the topic.

Giant atmospheric waves roll into view

Sunday, 24 May

Researchers studying the polar atmosphere have recently caught sight of high-flying waves of air that span up to several hundred kilometers, move as fast as hundreds of kilometers per hour, and transport energy between atmospheric layers with important, but little-understood consequences. Although scientists had previously detected traces of these waves, new observations clearly reveal their motions in three dimensions and may enable researchers soon to trace the waves back to their causes such as specific thunderstorms or winds striking mountains. The comprehensive picture now emerging of the waves should improve atmospheric models used to understand Earth’s climate, atmospheric chemistry, and other processes, the wave observers say. Providing these unprecedented portraits of the waves is a new type of radar aided by the aurora. In polar regions, such as Alaska and Canada, the aurora acts like a “flashlight” that illuminates the regions where the waves from the mountains break like ocean waves hitting the shore.


Craig Heinselman
AMISR Principal Investigator, SRI International, Menlo Park, California, USA
Michael Nicolls
Research Scientist, SRI International, Menlo Park, California, USA
Sharon Vadas
Research Scientist, Northwest Research Associates, CoRA Division, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Eric Donovan
Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Sessions: SA73A, SA74A

Completing the Plate Tectonic Revolution: Reconstructing Ancient Continents Using the Large Igneous Province (LIP) Record

Sunday, 24 May

Preliminary snapshots of ancient Earth are emerging from a project to determine arrangements of Earth’s continents as far back as billions of years ago, long before the supercontinent Pangea. With improvements in recovering and analyzing small grains of rare minerals with radioactive clocks, it is possible for the first time for scientists to routinely and precisely age-date short duration, huge volume, volcanic events, known as Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs), and to correlate components of those volcanic ‘plumbing systems’ across pieces of fragmented continents. In proof-of-concept tests, researchers find that about 2.7 billion to 2.0 billion years ago: eastern Quebec was bordered by Zimbabwe (with rich ore deposits traceable between the two regions), southern Ontario and Quebec were bordered by northern Europe, and northern Quebec and Labrador were linked to southern Greenland. Mining and oil companies are sponsoring the new, 5–year, industry-government-university project with the expectation of a competitive advantage in the search for new resources.


Richard E. Ernst (project coordinator and co-leader)
CAMIRO Research Fellow in Large Igneous Provinces, Dept. of Earth Sciences, U. of Otttawa, Ottawa, Canada
Wouter Bleeker (project co-leader)
Research Scientist, Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, Canada
Michael A. Hamilton (geochronology co-leader)
Asst. Professor of Geology, and Director of the Jack Satterly Geochronology Lab, Department of Geology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada<

Sessions: GA73C, GA74A, GA11A, GA13A

Perplexing atmospheric connections

Sunday, 24 May

Recent radar observations are revealing surprising links between parts of the atmosphere and may lead to more understanding of conditions in the outermost layer known as both the thermosphere and the ionosphere (the ionosphere is the electrically charged portion of the layer). Daily variations in properties of the thermosphere/ionosphere influence navigation and communication of satellite-based systems. Scientists have long known of disturbances in wind and temperature patterns of a lower atmospheric layer, the stratosphere, which in turn can affect conditions near Earth’s surface. Now researchers are finding that disturbances in the stratosphere at the poles have simultaneous and puzzling correlations with large changes in thermospheric/ionospheric conditions in far-distant parts of the globe. For instance, the most startling observations show that the thermosphere/ionosphere several hundred kilometers above the equator undergoes large changes in close correlation with the polar stratosphere disturbances. The unusually quiet solar minimum, which has reduced atmospheric influence by the sun, is helping researchers detect these unforeseen connections.


Jorge Luis Chau
Director, Jicamarca Radio Observatory, Geophysical Institute of Peru, Lima, Peru
Larisa Goncharenko
Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Haystack Observatory, Westford, Massachusetts, USA
Hanli Liu
Scientist, High Altitude Observatory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Sessions: SA73A, SA74A, SA11A

New insights from Canadian meteorites

Sunday, 24 May

Meteorites, being rocks from space, are solid samples of places in the Solar System to which we cannot easily go. The study of their physical and mineralogical characteristics provides insights into the diversity of processes involved in their origin. Likewise, the conditions under which they fall to Earth provide links to their asteroid or planetary parent bodies. Speakers will discuss new results regarding detection of organic molecules important for life in the unique Tagish Lake, B.C. meteorite (Herd), special conditions of formation of the 1000-year old Whitecourt, Alberta impact crater (Kofman), and the spectacular November 20, 2008 fireball that resulted in the fall of the Buzzard Coulee, Saskatchewan meteorite (Hildebrand).


Alan Hildebrand
Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science, Coordinator of the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre, Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Randolf Kofman
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Christopher HerdAssociate Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Sessions: MA11B, MA12A, MA13A, MA13C

Pinpointing the Epicentre of Space Storms

Monday, 25 May

New studies reveal that magnetic blast waves pinpoint and predict the location, at the edge of space, where space storms dissipate their energy. This epicentre marks the location where the energy equivalent to 50 billion watts of power, or the output of 10 of the world’s largest power stations, is dumped into the atmosphere. Waves from bursts of energy released in explosions in space, known as substorms, impact the atmosphere right at the edge of space. The discovery of the magnetic epicentre provides scientists with a new magnetic seismic locator for the impact.

The epicentre locates and provides several minutes advance warning of the area from which the most beautiful auroral displays occur. Much like in an earthquake, these magnetic tremors start at a specific location and propagate away from the epicentre in all directions across continent scales at speeds of around 150,000 kilometers per hour (93,205 miles per hour). The magneto-seismology of space offers scientists a new tool for understanding the expansion rate of the blast wave, aiding the scientific understanding of space weather, and ultimately the prediction of severe impacts on communication and strategic satellites.


I. Jonathan Rae
Research Associate, Study Leader, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Ian R. MannCanada Research Chair in Space Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
David KendallDirector General of Space Science, Canadian Space Agency, Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada
Sessions: SM71A, SM72A, SM73A, SM12A, SM21A, SM22A, SM22B, SM23A, SM23B, SM31A, SM31B, SM33A

Regional Climate Change — Detection, Attribution, Prediction.

Monday, 25 May

From heat waves and floods to hurricanes, a string of damaging weather events have devastated lives and made headlines over the past few years. These events have raised a question among insurers over whether the events are part of a long term trend. Likewise, the public would like to know if human emissions of greenhouse gases are in part to blame for specific events. To answer these questions, researchers have been developing new modeling and analysis techniques. These include regional climate models with higher spatial resolution, large samples of model simulations, and new means to sort out cause and effect in extreme weather phenomena.


Noah Diffenbaugh
Associate Professor, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; also Interim Director, Purdue Climate Change Research Center; Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USADáithí Stone
Postdoctoral fellow, Climate Systems Analysis Group, University of Cape Town, South Africa and Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics, University of Oxford, UK
Gabriel Vecchi
Research Oceanographer, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, NOAA, Princeton, New Jersey, USA

Sessions: GC21A, GC22A, GC23A

Peering beneath North America

Wednesday, 27 May

Details to come soon.


Suzan van der Lee
Assistant professor, Department of Earth and Planetary Science; Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA
Yingjie Yang
Research associate, Center of Imaging the Earth’s Interior, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA
Third speaker not yet confirmed.

Session: S34A

2. Press-conference visuals available to call-ins

Call-ins by reporters to the press conferences are welcome. Members of the news media may also log on to a web site to view the slides that accompany the talks, as those slides are presented. We will send the details on how to call in and access the press conference visuals soon.

3. Press Rooms

The Press Room for the meeting is Room 709, on Level 700 of the South Building of the convention center. Its phone number is +1 416-585-3700; give this number to anyone who may have to call you there. There are additional phones for outgoing calls, at no charge to you for business calls.

The Press Conference Room is Room 712, across the hall from the Press Room.

If you preregistered, your Press/News Media badge will be waiting for you in the Press Room (Room 709). However, preregistration has closed. You may register onsite in the Press Room (not at the main registration booths in the lobby).

Both the Press Room and Press Conference Room are equipped with wi-fi for use with your own laptop. The Press Room also has one Internet-connected computer for shared use, with a shared printer.

The Press Room (Room 709) hours are:

Sat., 23 May 1730h–1830h (open for registration only)
Sun., 24 May 0730h–1830h
Mon., 25 May 0730h–1830h
Tue., 26 May 0730h–1830h
Wed., 27 May 0730h–1400h

Lunch is served at 12:30h in the Press Room, Sunday-Tuesday, for News Media registrants.

4. Attention PIOs: Sending press releases to Joint Assembly

Public information officers are urged to work with scientists from their institutions to produce press releases and other materials for the media, related to their research, regardless of whether the scientists will be participating in press conferences. We suggest around 20 copies of printed materials and three copies of any video for broadcast.

The simplest way to send such materials is with the scientists themselves, asking them to drop them off in the Press Room (Room 709, on Level 700 of the South Building of the convention center). If that is not feasible, please ship them to:

Peter Weiss
Guest (Arriving 5/22/09)
c/o The Westin Harbour Castle
1 Harbour Square
Toronto, Ontario, M5J 1A6

(Phone: +1 (416) 869-1600)

Remaining copies of press materials may be collected up to 1300h on Wednesday, 27 May, after which they will be scrapped.

5. News Media Registration Information

Reporters working for foreign newspapers, television channels, news agencies or companies involved in reporting news events can work in Canada without a permit if they are reporting on events in the country.

However, nationals of some countries need a visa to enter Canada. For a list of countries whose citizens require visas to travel to Canada, see Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

For more information, visit the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration-Important Notices.

News Media registrants receive a badge that provides access to any of the scientific sessions of the meeting, as well as to the Press Room and Press Conference Room. No one will be admitted to press conferences, sessions, or the exhibition hall without a valid badge.

To enter the Convention Center, you will need to show a government-issued picture ID (passport or driver’s license). Please proceed next to the Press Room (MTCC, South Building, Level 700, Room 709). Preprinted badges will be waiting there for News Media registrants who have preregistered. Be prepared to show professional identification (see below).

Pre-registration is now closed. If you have not preregistered, you may fill out a News Media Registration Form in the Press Room (Room 709), presenting appropriate identification (see below). Your badge will be made while you wait.

Eligibility for press registration is limited to the following persons:

  • Working press employed by bona fide news media: must present a press card, business card, or letter of introduction from an editor of a recognized publication.
  • Freelance science writers: must present a current membership card from NASW, a regional affiliate of NASW, CSWA, ISWA, or SEJ; or evidence of by lined work pertaining to science intended for the general public and published in 2008 or 2009; or a letter from the editor of a recognized publication assigning you to cover 2009 Joint Assembly.
  • Public information officers of scientific societies, educational institutions, and government agencies: must present a business card.

Note: Representatives of publishing houses, for profit corporations, and the business side of news media must register at the main registration desk at the meeting and pay the appropriate fees, regardless of possession of any of the above documents. They are not accredited as News Media at the meeting.

Scientists who are also reporters and who are presenting at this meeting (oral or poster session) may receive News Media credentials if they qualify (see above), but must also register for the meeting and pay the appropriate fee as a presenter.

6. Who’s Coming

The online list of journalists who have preregistered for the meeting is available.

AGU Contact:
Peter Weiss, Public Information Manager, Phone: +1 202-777-7507, E-mail: [email protected]
Maria-José Viñas, Phone: +1 202 777 7530, E-mail: [email protected]