Earth Sciences Congress NAC2019 a resounding success

1 April 2019

On Thursday 14 and Friday 15 March, NWO organised the Netherlands Earth Sciences Congress, NAC2019. NWO gives a brief impression of this event that will be held annually from now on. In 2020 it will probably be held on 12 and 13 March.

With more than 400 registrations, far more than expected, NAC appeared to be a guaranteed success even before it began. At an organisational level the two days went without a hitch, and so the earth sciences team at NWO hope they gave the research community a congress with a clear added value.

The NAC wants to be a low-threshold springboard towards the two large international earth sciences congresses EGU and AGU. More than 70 percent of the visitors were in the category student, PhD or postdoc. A question to the audience about climate revealed an interesting difference: the younger the respondent, the greater the belief in adaptation measures instead of mitigation. To a greater or lesser extent the climate was also the subject for the four main speakers. Jan Smit (VU Amsterdam) described the evolution of the Chicxulub crater. Douwe van Hinsbergen (Utrecht University) made a reconstruction of the formation of the Mediterranean Sea. Hester Jiskoot (University of Lethbridge, Canada) talked about a historical side project: the oldest data about weather and the sea ice in East Greenland are from a Dutch whaler in 1710. Jan Polcher (LMD, Paris) talked about the integration of water models and climate models.

A total of 115 parallel sessions were held, supplemented with workshops on subjects such as the Dutch National Research Agenda, a workshop on publishing by Elsevier, and an explanation about the Rubicon and Veni grants from NWO. There were stands from APECS (young polar researchers club), TNO (with VR glasses that you could use to see beneath the ground in Brabant and Limburg), Shell, Deltares, COVRA and KNGMG (Royal Geological and Mining Society of The Netherlands).


During the NAC, the contract between NWO and ICDP, previously announced in November 2018, was signed. The International Continental Scientific Drilling Program funds drilling in the Earth's crust. Dutch earth sciences researchers now once again have access to the ICDP programme until 2024.

V.l.n.r. Marco Bohnhoff (ICDP en Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum) en namens NWO-domein ENW Niek Lopes Cardozo en Arian Steenbruggen ondertekenen het nieuwe contract tussen NWO en ICDP.


Many delegates were positive about the new congress location. The facilities provided by the Van der Valk hotel were excellent. In the evening, the band of Ruud Schotting, Professor of Earth Sciences at Utrecht University, played. The centrally situated city of Utrecht instead of the previous location at the Koningshof in Veldhoven appears to have been a key factor in the high attendance.

With the new start of the NAC, NWO also examined how the audience could be actively involved in especially the plenary parts of the programme. The company Buzzmaster successfully realised this during the first day. Unfortunately, the system suffered from technical problems during the second day.


A frequently heard comment was that the composition of the audience during the plenary sessions was as broad as the earth sciences are wide. Disciplines that were largely absent during previous editions of NAC, such as oceanography and hydrology, were now well represented. One of the keynote speakers, Jan Polcher, also demonstrated that broader approach by bringing together climate and water models. The visitors fell into the following categories:

  • 33 percent of the visitors identified themselves as working with the theme ice, oceans, atmosphere and climate
  • 22 percent: soil, sediment, geomorphology and hydrology
  • 18 percent: biogeochemistry, geochemistry and mineralogy
  • 14 percent: seismology, tectonics and rock physics
  • 8 percent: energy and soil particulates
  • 5 percent: geodesy

The broad approach was also realised due to the highly diverse and large programme committee. They have done a great job. Members of the programme committee led the various parallel sessions, and the chair of the programme committee, Caroline Katsman, hosted the congress.

Fotoprijs voor Renée de Bruijn


In two heavily visited rooms, 150 posters were presented. Three of those received prizes for the best poster: those of João Trabucho (1), Chris Fokkema (2) and Margot Cramwinckel (3). After an audience vote, the prize for the best photo went to Renée de Bruijn. KNGMG, a partner of the NAC, also awarded several prizes: the Jelgersma Prize to Victoria Trautner, the Escher Prize to Joëlle Kubeneck and Melanie During (exceptional situation: two wins this time, a tied decision of the jury) and the NJG Award to Linda Prinz.

Impression of the event

Winnaar fotocompetitie, foto van Renée de Bruijn

Source: NWO