Report - Digital Spring School 2021

From Monday to Wednesday, June 7-9, the first RTG Spring School of the second phase of the TRR 181 took place. Due to the ongoing pandemic safety measures, the event was held online – hopefully for the last time.

The Spring School 2021 set off on Monday and Tuesday with a workshop on presentation skills, which was held by renowned speaker on communication expertise and teaching skills Jean-Luc Doumont. Despite the format, which allowed little interaction, the participants learned a lot about how to get your message across and why it’s useful to view effective communication as optimisation under constraints.

On Tuesday, some science on oceanography was integrated in between workshop and the mentoring programme. Mercator fellow Jacques Vanneste from the University of Edinburgh, who was introduced by the project speaker as the expert in balanced flow decomposition and interpretation, held a talk on ‘Coastal Imbalance’. In his science talk, he discussed models and asymptotics on how the ocean responds to atmospheric perturbation. This talk gave some valuable insight into the effects that the coastline has on the business of decomposition between balanced flow and waves. In a separate Zoom breakout session, the speaker and a few scientists had the chance to discuss the topic on ocean imbalances a little further.

Several social activities throughout the event ensured that that the PhDs and Postdocs of the project could get to know each other better. Especially a City Rally and a Speed Networking much appreciated. The rallies throughout the cities of Bremen and Hamburg were a good opportunity for the PhDs and Postdocs, because everyone was finally able to get to see each other in person. The Speed Networking was in that sense also a welcomed social activity because it offered the PhDs the possibility to talk to all Postdocs one on one and finding out whom they’d like to be their mentor. Although this was organised online, the Speed Networking was perceived very well, thanks to the platform, which brought a bit of variety into the online environment that is often dominated by Zoom. Additionally to the Rally and Speed Networking, there was a Game Night and a Lunch Lottery, so that every day of the Spring School was covered with a little bit of entertaining social activities.

Where the first two days focused more on specific topics and the social activities, the Wednesday was fully dedicated to a Q&A format on every subproject of the TRR 181. Although not all of the questions could be answered in the limited amount of time, attendees got on overview of all research areas of the TRR. The session ended with an engaging discussion with Postdocs from the Synthesis area S about the relevance of keeping the overall goal of the TRR in mind when focusing on the work in each subproject: improving climate models.

Although (or because) the pandemic has been with us for more than a year and we already had to organise several events online, the general hope of the participants was that future events will be possible in persona again, for as we all know, video conferences can get tiring at some point. Nevertheless, we are happy to announce that the TRR 181 Spring School 2021 was a success and found a good balance between social activities on the one hand and learning about science and relevant skills on the other hand.