9th international meeting of the German Young Geomorphologists

Mark, Rupert and Bradley, members of the BSG postgrad forum, recently travelled to Germany for the 9th international meeting of the German Young Geomorphologists. We’ve put together a brief overview of the weekend. The Young Geomorphologists are the early-career and postgraduate wings of the German Working Group for Geomorphology (which itself is a national member of the IAG). Much like the BSG their goals are:

  • to create networking opportunities for junior scientists,
  • to provide a platform to discuss current issues of geomorphologic research,
  • to provide an opportunity to present and discuss your projects
  • to present the range of the geomorphologic research currently being undertaken in Germany.
  • to foster the exchange between international groups of young scientists.

This year, the meeting was held in Heimbach, near Aachen, within the Eifel National Park.

Having attended the Sediment Budgets in Cold Environments (SEDIBUD) workshop in the Zugspitze Schneefernehaus research station in Bavaria last year we were keen to reconnect with some familiar faces and meet some new young researchers, many of whom were either at the same stage of research as us or working in similar disciplines.

The fees were generously subsidised by the German Working Group and some outside contributors, Copernicus and Reigl, making it very affordable on a tight PhD budget!

The weekend had a number of sessions including posters, short research presentations, a fieldtrip and a couple of keynote lectures from established professors currently based at institutions in Germany. Aside from that, there was ample opportunity to discuss research, in a relaxed environment (often with a delicious German beer).


Things kicked off on the Friday afternoon with some drinks and icebreakers to get to know the other researchers. Unfortunately due to a coffee delivery issue we were forced to start the afternoon ice-breakers with a beer which was unsurprisingly received very positively by all. The first task was to physically plot ourselves in a graphical format based on the spatial scale of our research (x) against the rough time period in which you study (y). This was the first opportunity to see who was working in similar areas of research and get to know a little bit about eachother. A couple more games focussed on meeting everyone else in the group and taking on some trivia questions (some geomorphologically relevant and some not so much) as a team; Can you put these TV shows in order of when they came out? Knight Rider, Blue Thunder, The A-Team and Magnum PI…it’s harder than it looks.


The German Young Geomorphologists Workshop contingent

The first evening also hosted the poster session for the workshop. This was done in a “3 plus 1” format; ‘3 minutes’ to give an outline of your poster with ‘One question’ from the audience before heading to your poster for some more intensive Q&A. This format worked really well for the group size that we had and let everyone narrow down the list of posters they wanted to see in the limited time available. The poster hall rang with the sounds of intense discussion over fluvial sediment transport, landslide monitoring and climate driven topography.

As hard as it was to pull ourselves away from that, the evening ended with some German Pilsner and a few rounds on the table football and quite a lot of discussion of an apparently controversial 1966 World Cup goal…


Saturday began with a great wake-up keynote lecture from Prof. Sean Willet (ETH Zurich) discussing river network response to tectonic forcing. As a brief overview, Prof. Willet discussed how high-elevation, low-relief surfaces which are often termed relict landscapes, may not all be formed by tectonic uplift of older landscapes. He hypothesised that some of these relict landscapes are actually remnants of channel networks that have been starved of drainage area due to regional tectonic deformation and have therefore been unable to balance tectonic uplift with downcutting.

In preparation for the afternoon fieldtrip we also got a short presentation on the evolution of the Eifel Mountains from Prof. Frank Lehmkuhl (RWTH Achen). The weather held for the afternoon and we had a good time roaming the hills near Heimbach looking at some of the local geomorphology and geology before heading back for the first talks from the workshop participants.


Gathering for the fieldtrip with Prof. W. Romer

Over the Saturday evening and Sunday morning we heard ten talks from PhD students and Post-Doctoral researchers with topics on mass movement, periglacial processes, fluvial geomorphology and arid region sedimentology. All of the talks were excellent and particularly for the three of us some interesting discussion of structure from motion work which is becoming a commonly used technique within geomorphological research.

After the talks on Sunday it was sadly time to say goodbye to everyone. We’d like to thank the organisers for putting on a great workshop. It was an excellent meeting with lots of variety in research content and activities as well as a good opportunity to meet more members of this very active research group with a thriving postgraduate contingent. We look forward to the announcement of next year’s workshop (rumoured to be held near Berlin)!

Check out the German Young Geomorphologists webpage for more information on this year’s workshop – http://www.inst.uni-giessen.de/akgeom/?page_id=40


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