Geology & Geophysics AGU News

2017 AGU Fall Meeting Heads to New Orleans, 2018 to Washington, D. C.

The American Geophysical Union opts to relocate its 26,000-plus-attendee meeting from San Francisco for 2 years to avoid detrimental impacts from extensive construction at the convention center.


The Board of Directors of the world’s largest organization of Earth and space scientists voted Monday to move the association’s heavily attended annual meeting out of San Francisco, Calif., for the next 2 years. In 2017, the meeting will take place in New Orleans, La., and then it will go to Washington, D. C., for 2018.

For this year, however, the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) will remain in San Francisco, where it has been held for 48 years. AGU intends to offer the meeting there again in 2019, the scientific society’s centennial year, AGU officials announced today.

AGU decided to relocate its flagship scientific meeting—which attracted more than 26,000 attendees in 2015, including scientists, exhibitors, educators, press, and others—because of massive renovation at the Moscone Convention Center, the meeting’s usual venue, said AGU president Margaret Leinen, who is also director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.

“AGU’s Fall Meeting is one of the most important events in the Earth and space science community each year, and its success over the last 5 decades has played an important role in advancing that science. That’s why the risk posed by the Moscone Center construction was not something that we could ignore,” she said.

Construction Squeeze

Already under way on a modest scale last year, the construction will pose additional, but still manageable, challenges to the meeting this coming year, according to AGU. However, the more intense disruption expected from the overhaul in 2017 and 2018—ranging from displacing hundreds of presentations into many different hotels to a diminished scientific program and fewer networking opportunities—convinced the organization’s leaders that it was necessary to find an alternative location for those 2 years.

Only 10–12 cities in the United States offer the capacity, in terms of convention center space, abundance of nearby hotel rooms, and airline service, to handle such a large conference. The society requested proposals from eight of those cities, including San Francisco, AGU officials said.

AGU selected New Orleans for 2017 because the Big Easy, as the city is known, could house all of the presentations and other activities of the conference under the single roof of its vast convention center. Among other attractions, the city also surpassed other venues in the number of hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center, and the same neighborhood abounds in restaurants at a large range of costs.

D. C. in 2018

Washington, D. C., rose to the top for the following year, 2018, because it can provide sufficient space for the Fall Meeting in its sprawling downtown convention center and nearby hotels. The lively, cultured capital city also stood out because of its many hotels across a range of room prices, an excellent public transit system, good dining, and other amenities. The presence of the U.S. federal government and AGU’s headquarters in the city also boosted its desirability, AGU officials said.

Neither of the selected cities could house the meeting for both 2017 and 2018. Other conferences booked into New Orleans in 2018 were expected to limit hotel availability during AGU’s preferred meeting dates during the first 3 weeks of December. Likewise, the year 2017 didn’t pan out in Washington, D. C., because the city’s convention space wasn’t available during AGU’s preferred dates.

blog entry written by Leinen and other top AGU leaders and posted today on the organization’s From the Prow blog gives more details about the Fall Meeting relocation.

—Peter L. Weiss, Senior News Editor

Citation: Weiss, P. L. (2016), 2017 AGU Fall Meeting heads to New Orleans, 2018 to Washington, D. C., Eos, 97, doi:10.1029/2016EO045855. Published on 9 February 2016.

© 2016. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0