Participants discussing at the hackathon.

Diversity and collaboration at our 4th km-scale Hackathon in Hamburg

21. March 2024

In the scientific landscape, diversity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a fundamental ingredient for innovation. The 4th km-scale hackathon hosted in Hamburg by the nextGEMS project exemplified this mindset, bringing together over 130 participants from institutions in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. From March 4th to 8th, 2023, professionals with particular backgrounds, levels of expertise, and from 16 different countries converged to further develop the existing Earth System models used in nextGEMS, as well as extrapolating current and past data to create future scenarios.

Participants at the Hamburg hackathon.
Group of participants working together at the Hamburg hackathon.

Matias Olmo, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, reflected on the unique opportunity the hackathon presented to integrate new scientists into the community, especially those who, like him, were attending for the first time. Specifically, he highlighted how helpful the event was to increase his understanding of how to use high-resolution data.

Similarly, Stephy Libera, a Research Assistant at the Earth and Life Institute from Louvain Catholic University (UC Louvain), highlighted the casual encounters facilitated by the hackathon gatherings. For her, it was advantageous „meeting people from different projects altogether and seeing that there are so many colleagues working on similar, complementary, and parallel topics.“ Additionally, Libera contributed as part of the European Eddie-Rich ESMs (EERIE) project – one of the projects co-organizing the hackathon – and shared a brief insight into the work she will be doing as part of EERIE after the hackathon: the effects on mesoscale eddies underneath sea ice, starting with the sea ice in the Antarctic and later in the Arctic.

Indeed, the essence of a hackathon isn’t solely measured by the quantity of scientific output, as Quan Liu, a Postdoctoral Researcher from the Climate Variability Department at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, emphasized. For him, „the idea of the hackathon is more about making people work together, which somehow helps transfer coding skills in a very practical and useful way to younger scientists”.

Other participants advanced with their modelling endeavors during the event, like Alejandro Uribe, a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Meteorological Department of Stockholm University. His work during the hackathon was focused on the intricate dynamics of precipitation efficiency within specific regions, shedding light on the model’s fidelity in reproducing real-world phenomena. Furthermore, he shared how, compared to previous hackathons, the provided support and information on-site and through the nextGEMS website enabled him to „analyze and access data easier, avoiding wasting too much time in technicalities and using that time for analysis and for thinking“.

With each participant bringing a unique perspective and expertise to the table, the hackathon served as a melting pot of ideas, propelling Earth System Modeling and Climate Science forward. At the same time, the event demonstrated the power of collaboration, diversity, and community in scientific work.

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