Bridging the Future of Earth System Modelling – the ESM Summer School 2019

Picture: Mariano Mertens

It’s a cloudy Monday morning in Bad Aibling. The one-rail train station of Bad Aibling Kurpark starts getting crowded with young people carrying big backpacks, poster tubes, and one common destination: the Sankt Georg Hotel, venue of the ESM Summer School.


Fifty students from 26 institutes placed all over the world gathered in this small town in Bayern, Germany, for a 10-day summer school in Earth System Modelling on 9-19 September 2019. A full schedule of four daily lectures kept these young scientists busy with various topics related to the Earth system and its components, from atmospheric dynamics to terrestrial modelling, from the modelling of waves and oceans to that of ice sheets and glaciers. Thirty lecturers from the ESM Project’s partner institutes and beyond dedicated a couple of days to interact with early-career scientists through presentations but also during coffee breaks and dinners to  discuss new research ideas. In parallel to frontal lectures, the students had the chance to get their hands “dirty” with coding and building mini-cluster computers in groups.


It was then the moment to introduce their research, and the lecture room transformed into a conference hall to host two poster sessions, during which they had the chance to exchange experiences, share results and receive feedbacks from fellow PhD and PostDocs, but also the Summer School lecturers. After a severe evaluation of each poster, the panel of evaluators reached a difficult decision and found in Simon Rosanka (FZJ) the winner of the prestigious “Best Poster Award”, assigned to the most well-put and informative poster on display.  


But it was not just work: on the weekend of the 13th and 14th of September, the Summer School moved from its usual setting of the St. Georg Hotel to the mountain of Kampenwand for a healthy hike, to visit a salt mine Berchtesgarden and for a day-trip to Salzburg, Austria. Social networking also took place throughout the school thanks to the facilities that the hotel made available to the students, like its wellness and fitness area, as well as the common areas for recreational activities. 


The ESM Project made it a core objective to train and educate early-career scientists to transfer knowledge on the earth system and bring its legacy to the future generation. After ten intense days, new collaborations and friendships were born, fresh perspectives acquired and renewed inspiration gained, to carry out nre research in Earth system modelling and bring science a step further to solve the grand challenges of our times.