The EGU General Assembly 2014 was attended by over 12,000 scientists from more than 100 countries around the world. Of particular interest to me, the Soil System Sciences session ‘Strategies for effective soil carbon sequestration through synergies in pyrogenic carbon, charcoal and biochar research’ received in excess of 30 abstract submissions. Typically, the research of wildfire pyrogenic carbon, charcoal and biochar are often undertaken in isolation, despite analogous formation, function and physicochemical properties. The focus of this session was to achieve common understanding of terminology, techniques and resources present in each community.
Through a multidisciplinary platform, presentations ranged from the carbon sequestration potential of charcoal on millennial timescales, the climate-change mitigation potential of biochar systems, to the complex molecular structure of wildfire pyrogenic carbon.
This session gave me the opportunity to draw upon previous conference experience and present the full findings of my PhD research to a large international audience. The process of communicating my work combined with the interaction, through questions and feedback, with world-leading researchers permitted a unique opportunity to address exigent research questions within the fields of pyrogenic carbon, charcoal and biochar.
The invitation to not only present at the conference but to also Co-convene the session, at such a pivotal point in my academic career, was a particular highlight. It has alerted me to the necessary processes and demands required to attract international interest, to construct an appealing programme and to deliver a successful session enjoyed by all.
Ultimately, this experience has provided extra motivation to undertake further academic research tackling issues within the fields of pyrogenic carbon, charcoal and biochar. Without the funding assistance provided by the BSSS, attendance at such a memorable conference would not have been possible.
Ian T. Mugford