During its Autumn meeting, the EGU Programme Committee has unanimously decided that the EGU General Assembly 2021 will be a virtual conference named vEGU21: Gather Online (#vEGU21). The COVID pandemic is currently not under control and is unlikely to be by April 2021. Under these circumstances, it would be irresponsible to organize an in-person meeting with thousands of participants. Instead, we will build on the experiences from EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online and the feedback we received to design the concept for vEGU21: Gather Online.

Background and concept

  • In an effort to make its General Assembly greener, the EGU has implemented several initiatives over the years. However, the main source of CO2 emissions has always been attendee travel to Vienna.
  • The EGU has worked to improve the accessibility and the inclusiveness of its General Assembly. EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online showed that a virtual conference can be both very accessible and very inclusive, therefore strengthening diversity, which is an essential ingredient for scientific progress. The virtual discussions, and in particular the live text chats, proved much more inclusive than more traditional formats of feedback with respect to gender, career stage, and native language.
  • The EGU strongly promotes the equal importance of all scientific presentations at its General Assemblies, independent of format; please see EGU's statement on scientific presentations at the EGU General Assembly. EGU makes no distinction regarding the standing, quality, or prestige of oral, poster, or PICO presentations. EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online had the great advantage that all presentations in scientific sessions had the same format and all authors had the same opportunities for spotlighting their research. The Sharing Geoscience Online format turned out to be a very successful way of presenting new results, and the community enjoyed outstanding virtual presentations. The virtual portions of future EGU General Assemblies must foster the advantages of equal presentation formats.
  • The in-person EGU General Assemblies have always had the strength of networking: the community met in person, discussions were fostered, dedicated networking breaks were implemented, and many receptions allowed casual exchanges between participants from all around the world. Personal contacts are reduced in virtual meetings and, from the feedback on EGU2020: Sharing Geoscience Online, this was the aspect that was missed the most. vEGU21: Gather Online aims to provide as many opportunities for contacts and networking as possible.
  • vEGU21: Gather Online will be a virtual conference that brings all components of an in-presence EGU General Assembly online and makes everyone feel welcome!

In the post-COVID era, we envision hybrid meetings as an ideal format to reconcile inclusiveness, greening, and in-person networking. We will develop the concept for future EGU General Assemblies based on feedback from vEGU21 and input from the broad Earth, planetary, and space science community.

Disciplinary, inter- and transdisciplinary sessions

  • All scientific sessions offer the possibility to upload display materials that will be accessible for registered conference attendees during a 2-month period around vEGU21: Gather Online. Uploading display materials should be done prior to the start of vEGU21. Modifications are possible throughout the 2-month period. In addition to display materials (*.pdf, *.ppt/pptx, *.pps/ppsx, *.png, *.html, or *.mp4 file), authors can provide a DOI or URL linking to a presentation they pre-recorded and submitted to portals like YouTube. If authors opt for the open-access Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY), their display materials become openly accessible to everyone through EGUsphere a month after vEGU21: Gather Online ends.
  • For all uploaded display materials, authors can opt to allow comments. Registered conference attendees can then comment on presentations during a 2-month period starting 1 month prior to the meeting.
  • During vEGU21: Gather Online, all sessions will run in the new EGU virtual PICO (vPICO) session format, which will offer the opportunity to address a truly worldwide and diverse audience. Sessions will be divided in time blocks of about 20 abstracts each. All time blocks will start with 2-minute presentations by all authors who have abstracts in that time block, moderated by a chairperson.
  • Following the 2-minute presentations, each abstract will have a breakout chat during which questions to individual authors can be posted. Attendees will see all breakout chats in the online programme so that they can visit multiple authors during the remaining session time. At the same time, the central webinar space will be turned into a meeting where a moderated discussion can take place. After the 2-minute presentations, each author will be available for chats and further discussion.
  • For the 2-minute presentations, authors are asked to upload a single slide (*.pdf, *.ppt/pptx) at least 24 hours prior to the session’s start summarizing the essence of the research in the meeting abstract to anchor their presentation.

Union-wide sessions

  • Union Symposia and Great Debates will take place as webinars and will be recorded for on-demand viewing. Questions can be asked through the Q&A and speakers will answer orally.
  • Medal lectures will take place as webinars and will be recorded for on-demand viewing.
  • Short courses will be mainly organized as webinars during vEGU21: Gather Online. We aim to have some short courses pre-recorded for on-demand viewing.
  • Townhall meetings will take place as webinars. Questions can be asked through the Q&A, and speakers will answer orally.
  • Splinter meetings: we will provide the opportunity to organize public splinter meetings during vEGU21: Gather Online. These will be listed in the online programme and will be run on the same online platform as all other sessions.