Public Release: 

1999 Spring Meeting: Information For Media Representatives

American Geophysical Union


I. Introduction

Boston's Hynes Convention Center is the site of 1999 Spring Meeting, which takes place June 1-4 (Tuesday through Friday). It is sponsored by the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society, and the Mineralogical Society of America. A broad range of scientific sessions will present the latest developments in the earth and space sciences. See Media Advisory 99-08 of March 15 for major themes of the meeting. It is available on the AGU web site:

This message provides a preliminary schedule of press conferences and other events of interest to the media. It is, of course, subject to change. In mid-May, an updated list of press conferences will be distributed, including the names and affiliations of participants.

The meeting's first day, June 1 (the day following Memorial Day), will be the busiest for media representatives, and it starts early! If you are coming from outside the Boston area, you should arrive no later than Monday.

The Press Room will be open daily during the Meeting. Facilities include Internet access, phones, fax, and copier. Continental breakfast and light lunch will be provided daily. A form for advanced registration is appended to this announcement, as is a URL for a hotel registration form. Please do not delay in arranging accommodations!

II. Press Conferences and related activities

Briefing: Overview of Spring Meeting
June 1, 8:00 A.M. - Room 111
Prof. Carol Simpson of Boston University, Chairman of the Spring Meeting Program Committee, will point the way to sessions and special events of particular interest to the media. Journalists found a similar briefing at Fall Meeting helpful in selecting the activities they would cover from the plethora available. This briefing will be preceded by registration (for those who have not preregistered) and breakfast in the Press Room, starting at 7:30 A.M.

Mars Global Surveyor: Latest Results
June 1, 10:00 A.M. - Room 111
We anticipate significant new revelations in this press conference. Since the specific contents may be subject to embargo by a non-AGU publication, we are withholding details until that situation is clarified. (Relates to Sessions P31A, P32A)

Yucca Mountain: Safe Storage for Nuclear Waste?
June 1, 12:15 P.M. - Room 111
The Department of Energy says there are still scientific issues to be resolved concerning the safety of Yucca Mountain, 100 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, as a long term storage depository for nuclear waste. There is an ongoing public policy debate over whether it will in fact safe to begin using this facility in 2010, as is planned. A panel of scientists will present evidence both supporting and opposing the use of Yucca Mountain. (Relates to Sessions U21A, U22A, U32A)

Magnetic Storms: Understanding and Measuring Energies Pumped into Earth from Space
June 1, 3:00 P.M. - Room 111
Scientists using three unique auroral imaging instruments on the Polar Global Geoscience Satellite will describe two major discoveries--a "midnight gap" in the aurora and the locations of substorm onsets--and two important measurements--the total energy stored in the magnetosphere and the total power pumped into the auroral zone by substorms. These findings can help us understand how the Earth is affected by solar activity, including the upcoming solar maximum. (Relates to Sessions SM31C, SM32C)

Second Annual AGU/NESW Wine and Cheese Reception for the Media
June 1, 6:00 P.M. - Room 110
Relax a while at the end of the first busy day of Spring Meeting, see who else is here, and renew friendships over wine and cheese (both upgraded from 1998!). Co-sponsored by New England Science Writers, the regional NASW affiliate. Followed immediately by:

Against the Tide: The Battle for America's Beaches
June 1, 7:00 P.M. - Room 111
Cornelia Dean, Science Editor of The New York Times, has just completed a new book for the Columbia University Press with the above title. Dean, who lives on two islands (Manhattan and Martha's Vineyard), has studied beach erosion and replenishment, development issues on barrier islands, and related scientific and public policy questions, which she will discuss in this special presentation for her colleagues in the media. Dean will also discuss the process of writing and publishing a popular book about science. (Against the Tide will not appear in bookstores until after Spring Meeting, but copies will be available at this lecture.)
(Relates to Session U32B)

The South China Sea Monsoon Experiment
June 2, 11:00 A.M. - Room 111
This experiment (SCSMEX) has demonstrated an inverse relationship between tropical convection in the South China Sea and the disastrous Yangtze River flood of 1998. When the Yangtze River region is wet, the South China Sea region is dry. Delay in the onset of the monsoon may be a precursor of Yangtze flooding. Scientists from China, the United States, Japan, and Taiwan participated in this project.
(Relates to Sessions A21C, A22E, A31B)

Special Event: Public Attitudes Toward the Geophysical Sciences
June 2, 12:15 P.M. - Room 106
What do average Americans think about global warming, earthquake dangers, the availability of safe drinking water and related issues? And how do they view the scientists who study these and related phenomena? AGU's Public Information Committee commissioned an independent study by Public Agenda to seek some preliminary answers. John Immerwahr of Public Agenda and Villanova University conducted the research and reports the results to AGU members. The press is invited to cover his presentation.

The Role of Soils in Reducing and Increasing Atmospheric Carbon
June 2, 1:30 P.M.
Soil plays a role in regulating the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and thereby has a role in climate change. But does soil ultimately remove (sequester) more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases into the atmosphere, and what are the factors that influence the direction and magnitude of these processes? A panel will discuss some of the latest insights from experiments in various environments at sea, on coasts, and inland.
(Relates to Sessions H31A, H32A, H41B)

Honors Ceremony
June 2, 5:30 P.M. - Boston Marriott Copley Place (across from Hynes Convention Center), Ballroom Level
AGU President John Knauss will present awards and medals to various scientists. He will present the Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism to David Sington for his BBC/Discovery Channel series, Earth Story. The ceremony and subsequent reception are open to press registrants.

Lessons From the Cariaco, Venezuela, Earthquake
June 3, 10:00 A.M. - Room 111
The 1997 earthquake in northeastern Venezuela, which killed 82 people, provided a rare opportunity to correlate a surface-rupturing quake with a known fault at depth, El Pilar, in an environment outside California and Japan. El Pilar is shown to behave differently from other well studied strike-slip fault systems, like San Andreas. Seismologists consider their findings an important breakthrough regarding a major, hazardous plate boundary fault zone. The earthquake also provided the opportunity to assess a natural hazard threat in a developing area. These risks are believed to be in some ways greater in the developing than in the developed world.
(Relates to Sessions S42A, S52A)

Reading Climate History Through the Chemistry of Shells
(Day and time to be determined) - Room 111
A multidisciplinary group of scientists (geochemists, micropaleontologists, oceanographers, ecologists) has been studying Earth's climate history over various time scales. By analyzing the shells of crustaceans knows as ostracodes, they have been able to calculate changes in ocean alkalinity and the temperature and salinity of lake and ocean waters and also infer rainfall amounts in various regions. They can thereby determine which climate changes were global and which were regional. They have also reached conclusions about the impact of past climate change on lakes, oceans, forests, and other ecosystems.
(Relates to Sessions OS22C, OS31A)

Radio Broadcast: NPR Science Friday
June 4, 2:00-4:00 P.M. - Room 308
The second hour of this discussion program features several scientists who will discuss significant developments in their respective fields that were reported at Spring Meeting. They will participate from the nearby studios of WBUR-FM, and the program will be fed into a room at the Meeting where attendees may listen to it live.

III. Press Room

The Press Room is Room 110 of the Hynes Convention Center. It will be open the following hours:

    Tuesday, June 1: 7:30 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
    Wednesday and Thursday, June 2 and 3: 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
    Friday, June 4: 8:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. (The room will remain open after that, but equipment and supplies will be removed during the course of the afternoon.)

Press Room facilities include:

    Computer with Internet access and printer
    Message center for press registrants
    Press releases related to Spring Meeting

The Press Room phone number for incoming calls is 1-617-954-3094.
The Press Room number for incoming faxes is 1-617-954-3100.
Please provide these numbers to anyone who might have to reach you in the Press Room. There is no charge for outgoing business calls and faxes.

Press conferences will be held in the Briefing Room, Room 111, which is adjacent to the Press Room. It will have a camera platform and mult box for audio recordings, but no special lighting.

AGU will provide continental breakfast and light lunches daily in the Press Room, along with all day coffee and tea service.

IV. Press registration

Registration entitles journalists and science public information officers to a badge that allows access to any of the scientific sessions of Spring Meeting and the exhibition area, as well as to the Press Room, Briefing Room, and events specifically for media representatives. No one will be admitted without a valid badge.

Eligibility for press registration is limited to the following persons, all of whom have equal access: <

  • Working press representing bona fide news media with a press card, letter, or business card from the publication;
  • Freelance science writers, presenting a current membership card from NASW, ISWA, NESW (or another regional affiliate of NASW), or evidence of work pertaining to science published in 1998 or 1999.
  • Public information officers of scientific societies, educational institutions, and government agencies.

Note: Representatives of the business side of news media, publishing houses, and for-profit corporations must register at the main registration desk and pay the appropriate fees.

Eligible persons are encouraged to pre-register via the form at the end of this message. It may be returned by e-mail, fax, or mail. While supplies last, pre-registrants will receive the 404 page book of Spring Meeting abstracts by first class mail, which facilitates planning for coverage of specific sessions or individual presentations. The deadline for press pre-registration is May 20. Those who register on-site will receive the abstracts, and all press registrants will receive the Program book, upon arrival at the Press Room.

Press registrants from outside the Boston area should make arrangements for accommodations as early as possible. Hotel information is available on the AGU web site: (scroll down till you reach it). There is also an online reservation form:

An ONLINE version of this form is available at

This form should be copied and returned to Harvey Leifert by email or by fax (202-328-0566). While supplies last, an advance copy of the Spring Meeting Abstract book will be sent by first class mail to registrants. (Others will receive a copy in the Press Room.) If you prefer to receive the Abstracts by express delivery service, please provide the name of the company, your account number, and the class of service desired (e.g., overnight, 2nd day).


Name: ____________________________________________________________
(to be printed on badge)

Media Affiliation: ____________________________________________________________
(Freelancers: Describe your eligibility per criteria in Media Advisory 99-14 of May 3, 1999. Please bring evidence of eligibility to the Press room.)

Mailing address:

Telephone: ________________________________

  Fax: ________________________________

  Email: _______________________________________________

  Date: ____________________

  Press pre-registration deadline is Thursday, May 20, 1999.
(Form must be received at AGU by that date. Journalists and PIO's may also register on-site.)


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