First Meeting: Atmospheric Biogeoscientists Join Agriculture, Forestry Specialists

The First Conference on Atmospheric Biogeosciences last month in Boston was introduced to broaden the scope of the long-running AMS Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, now at its 30th meeting. Together, the joint specialty meetings brought in a record number of nearly 200 attendees. According to Ankur Desai, Chair of the AMS Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, this first joint meeting attracted a whole new audience, with many attendees experiencing their first AMS conference of any kind. Loretta J. Mickley, atmospheric chemist, member of the Board on Atmospheric Biogeosciences, and a conference co-chair, was one of them. “The joint meeting promised to bring together scientists from a range of disciplines,” Mickley comments. “I found the mix of issues enriching.”
The recently initiated AMS Board on Atmospheric Biogeosciences, chaired by Elizabeth Pattey, worked to broaden the focus of the Agricultural and Forest Meteorology meeting, by bringing in the atmospheric chemistry and ecology communities. The meeting featured presentations over four days, covering aspects of the dynamic exchanges occurring at the interface between the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface, such as canopy transport and dispersion, the fate of environmental mercury, and methane emissions from managed and unmanaged landscapes. According to Desai, it turned out to be a great fit. “It was clear from the beginning that there is a natural partnership between the two communities. We sat right at the intersection of where micrometeorology met macroecology.”
Ian Strachan, co-chair of conference and member of the AMS Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, agrees, noting that by infusing a rich tradition of meetings that goes back to the 1950s with joint sessions from the Board brought these communities together in a way that allowed attendees to explore new connections and avenues of research. Pattey, points out how the smaller venue was ideal for these types of interactions. “By integrating members in a more intimate setting, it opens a new area of direction, allowing collaborations and ideas that are important in establishing stronger ties within and between the two groups,” she comments.
Strachan noted how the sessions also provided an opportunity for students to present their work at a major venue, many for the first time.  And according to the chairs, the significant number of talks (~40) and posters (~20) presented by graduate students points to atmospheric biogeosciences as a strong emerging field.
With the positive feedback from attendees, the committee and conference chairs are already discussing another joint meeting. “We plan to continue the tradition from here, bringing in scientists from even more disciplines to add to the diversity of research that was presented at this meeting,” concludes Desai.