The annual meeting of the COST Action WATSON was held at the University of Dubrovnik, Croatia the 28-31 March 2023. Seventy-five members of the WATSON COST Action met in person (45) and virtually (30). The event, which included meetings and workshops, was perfectly organized by Tamara Jakovljević from the Croatian Forest Research Institute. The COST science officer Estelle Emeriau and the COST administrative officer, Carmencita Malimban joined the meeting as well.
The meeting started with the Extended Core Group (ECG), which includes the working group leaders and vice leaders, and members of the Stakeholder, Short Term Scientific Mission, and Inclusiveness Target Country committees. The discussion focused on future network activities, admission of new members, grants for short-term scientific missions (STMS), conferences and dissemination events, and the budget. The mid-term report of the Action was thoroughly discussed as well.
The meeting continued with a dense plenary session, which included interesting talks on the use of stable isotopes to address water security issues in different environmental conditions and about isotope databases.
The STSM grantees Francisco Muñoz Gálvez (Spain), Matteo Nigro (Italy), Marlene Dordoni (Germany), and Klara Žagar (Slovenia) presented the work they accomplished during their period abroad. Marco Lehman and Katrin Meusburger spoke about research grants they received through a COST funding scheme for scientific projects of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
There were also dedicated sessions on science communication and stakeholder involvement.
During the dedicated working group meetings, each working group progressed in their past and upcoming scientific activities, including the preparation of review papers, the organization of training schools, seminars, and other events.
During the guided walk through Dubrovnik, there were plenty of opportunities to meet new people in an informal setting, take pictures, and continue the discussions from the afternoon
In the Management Committee (MC) meeting, the most important COST policies regarding the promotion of gender balance, the involvement of young Investigators, inclusiveness and excellence, and the budget were reviewed. Because the project has already entered into its last years, the tasks and deliverables mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding were discussed to successfully reach the goals of the WATSON COST Action. To this end, future meetings and activities, including the next training schools, workshops, seminars, and special sessions at conferences were discussed.
The last day was dedicated to the Water scarcity workshop on how isotopes can help to understand and address water scarcity. The morning session included three keynote talks on drought characteristics and propagation and several short case study presentations, illustrating the application of water stable isotope analysis to specific water scarcity and water management. The afternoon was used to discuss how isotopes can help water managers address water scarcity issues and to create storyboards for outreach materials.
In summary, the annual meeting of the Cost Action WATSON in Dubrovnik has been an excellent opportunity to meet new and old colleagues, and to participate in lively discussions on the most recent advancements in isotope hydrology applied to the critical zone. We look forward to the next meeting, whose date and location will be announced later.