The annual EGU General Assembly is Europe’s largest and most prominent geosciences event. The General Assembly also features a job centre, artists-in-residence, and a newsletter, EGU Today, which highlights sessions, events, and exhibitions each day of the meeting. Because of the COVID-19, this year’s EGU was held online which is called vEGU21. vEGU21 has included 18,155 scientists from 136 countries, attending 13,643 live presentations in 642 scientific sessions, 5 Union Symposia, and 32 Medal and Award Lectures sessions; attending 5 Great Debates and 56 Short Courses; networking in 47 Union-organized and 72 pop-up networking events; and attending 117 side events (

The vEGU 2021 virtual conference centre

After the experience of attending the PMIP meeting held in October 2020, I am more familiar with the process of preparing for international conferences. My topic of the vPICO (interactive presentations that combine the advantages of orals and posters) presentation is “Reconstructing Holocene vegetation-fire regimes in the Iberian Peninsula”. The content of my presentations for these two conferences are very similar, but in this vEGU, we have expanded our dataset in the Iberian Peninsula and thus our results are more robust. My presentation went well because the SPECIAL group had a vPICO rehearsal on 19th April. Everyone in this group acted not only as a presenter but also as an audience who can give any suggestions to each presenter. Thanks for all those suggestions given by our group members, I modified my display material to make it easier to follow after this rehearsal.

vEGU poster ‘Reconstructing burnt area in the Iberian Peninsula through the Holocene’ presented in the vPICO session by Yicheng Shen.

EGU lasts for 2 weeks. During the first week, I enjoyed many Short Courses and Medal & Award Lectures. Many lectures and presentations on Tuesday are related to the CL programme (Climate: past, present and future) which is closely related to my research. The most impressive one to me is the lecture given by Prof. Kim.M.Cobb talking about (Paleo)climate science for the 21st century where she mentioned three areas that are critical to accurate future projections: 1. Sea level rise; 2. Extreme events (e.g. ENSO, floods, droughts, wildfires); 3. Precipitation trends and variability. There are also many courses which are worth attending in the first week which are quite useful to my current study and personal development. For example, some short courses telling me how to outreach, how to find funding and write a research grant, and also some discussions related to careers inside and outside of academia. In the second week, I focused on enjoying the vPICO presentations. The start of the vPICO sessions on Monday morning did not go well. Many small problems with the BBB-based chats quickly escalated to major connection issues. Fortunately, due to the tremendous efforts of our session conveners and other volunteers, the quick switch to Zoom allowed the community to continue to share their science. I presented my research on Monday in the section of CL5.1.1 – Novel and quantitative methods for reconstructing continental palaeoenvironments and palaeohydrology. Although there are only three vPICO presentations in this section related to fire reconstructions, I had a lovely discussion with Elisabeth Dietze who talked about the potential and limitations of long-term fire regime reconstructions in Eastern Siberia based on sedimentary charcoal and low-temperature fire markers and I also sent my questions to Maria Raja after vPICO who gave a presentation on the potential use of sedimentary pyrogenic biomarkers to quantitatively reconstruct wildfires occurrence and extension. Their studies inspired me, and I may consider more about charcoal source when I reconstruct palaeo fire regimes and maybe compare our results with the results using biomarkers to improve the method. The section of BG1.1 Fire in the Earth system: interactions with land, atmosphere and society is also attractive to me. But unfortunately, it was held at the same time as CL5.1.1, I can only go through all the abstracts of this section, but they are interesting and I also learned a lot.

There are many vPICO presentations I haven’t had time to attend. But I will read the abstracts in the following weeks to gain knowledge that may not directly help my research but may give me inspiration and help me keep curious about science. vEGU is like an online gathering party, providing an opportunity for not only Early-Career scientists to communicate and network with those prestigious scientists they cannot talk to in their daily life, but also providing a great platform for everyone to share their research and getting other people’s comments. I really enjoyed the vEGU in 2021 and really hope the COVID will end soon, and we can meet in person next year.