Gerhard Beutler | 2003-08-07

Report of the President on the IAG General Assembly

Dear IAG fellows, IAG members, and IAG friends,

0. Preamble

The following lines should not be understood as minutes or summaries of meetings -- minutes will be prepared by the IAG Central Bureau in a much more professional way. I just try to offer my personal impressions of and comments on a few events in conjunction with the XXIII-rd General Assembly in Sapporo, which might be essential for IAG for the upcoming four year period 2003-2007.

The following lines are the (attempt of a) "revival" of a procedure I followed as Chairman of the IGS (1991-1998), where I produced memory dumps at irregular intervals -- but always associated with IGS-relevant events. I will try to do the same during the (hopefully) next four years of my IAG presidency.

1. The XXIII-rd IUGG General Assembly in Sapporo

All IAG General Assemblies, taking place simultaneously with the IUGG General Assemblies, are transition periods from the "old" to the "new" IAG Executive Committee. The XXIII-rd IUGG General Assembly, which took place in Sapporo (Japan) from June 30 to July 11, 2003, was certainly one of the best of recent years. The local organizing committee did a marvellous job.

All scientific events and all executive committee meetings (except one) at the General Assembly are organized by the "old" Executive Committee. General Assemblies are big events with many symposia, meetings, etc., running in parallel. It is therefore difficult or even impossible for an individual to keep a fair oversight of events. With only few exceptions I obtained a very positive impression of the scientific symposia. This impression was confirmed by many colleagues.

The IAG executive and business meetings were very well prepared - and therefore ran pretty smoothly, as well. The positive impression of these Sapporo events is entirely due to the "old" executive, in particular to Fernando Sanso, Christian Tscherning and his crew (Ole Anderson, Christina Schneider, et al.). The Section presidents Alan Dodson, C.K. Shum, Michael Sideris, Bernhard Heck, and Clark Wilson were the key responsibles for the scientific program.

The two Council Meetings and the first meeting of the "new" IAG Executive Committee dealt with many aspects of the immediate future of IAG. Let me pick out a few of the (hopefully) more important items.

2. Council Meetings of July 3 and July 7

The IAG Council consists of the delegates of the IAG member states. It is the highest authority of IAG and has to approve the budget, resolutions, and other interesting things. It also has to be convinced of and approve major structural changes or modifications of the IAG structure.

The IAG is lucky to have an extremely competent and active Council. This was already apparent at the IAG Scientific Assembly in 2001 in Budapest, where an IAG Council meeting was called to approve the new IAG Statutes and ByLaws -- an extremely complex matter. The IAG Statutes and ByLaws may be easily found under the IAG homepage (new:, old: Only few addenda related to the new IAG structure had to be discussed and judged in Sapporo:

  • The Council approved the establishment of IGGOS (Integrated Global Geodetic Observing System) as IAG's first and only project. More information in section 4).
  • The Council approved the establishment of the Inter-commission Committee on theory with Pelliang Xu as president.
  • The Council gave the IAG Executive Committee the permission to establish an Inter-commission Committee on Geodetic Standards in the 2003-2007 period, as soon as a convincing concept is available.
  • The Council gave the IAG Executive Committee the permission to establish an Inter-commission Committee on Planetary Geodesy(?!), as soon as a convincing concept will be available.
  • The Council elected Jozsef Adam as president of the newly established Communication and Outreach Branch.

As usual, the Council had to select the venue of the IAG Scientific Assembly of the new four year period. Excellent proposals were available. The Council made the following decision:

IAG Scientific Assembly 2005:

Location:Cairns, Australia

Date: 22-26 August

Tentative Title: Monitoring a dynamic planet with geodetic tools

Local Organizer: Chris Rizos

Specialty: Joint Symposium with IAPSO

I believe that we can already now look forward to a fascinating event in a spectacular scenery (Barrier Reef, Rain Forest, a few crocodiles, etc.).

At this point it is appropriate to mention that the IUGG Council chose Perugia, Italy as the venue for the XXIV-th IUGG General Assembly in 2007. From the IAG perspective the combination of the Cairns meeting in 2005 and the Perugia meeting in 2007 is ideal.

Last, but not least, the Council decided that in recognition of his four years of IAG presidency Fernando Sanso should be appointed as honorary President of IAG. The above decisions were all taken at the Council meeting of Monday, July 7.

3. The IAG Executive Committee 2003-2007

The IAG elections for the period 2003-2007 were organized by

Klaus-Peter Schwarz, past president of the Association. According to the IAG Statutes the Council is the electing body. The election took place by mail. With one exception, namely the head of the Communication and Outreach Branch, all IAG EC members were already known in March 2003. The new IAG Executive consists of the following 14 voting members:

  1. The IAG Bureau
    • Ch. Tscherning (Secretary General)
    • M. G. Sideris (Vice-President)
    • G. Beutler (President)
  2. The immediate Past President
    • Fernando Sanso
  3. Commission Presidents;
    • Commission 1: Reference frames: H. Drewes
    • Commission 2: Gravity field : Ch. Jekeli
    • Commission 3: Earth rotation and geodynamics: V. Dehant
    • Commission 4: Positioning and Applications: Ch. Rizos
  4. Service representatives:
    • R.E. Neilan
    • M. Rothacher
    • H. Schuh
  5. The president of the Communication and Outreach Branch:
    • zsef Ádám
  6. Members at Large: L.P. Fortes, Ch. Merry.

Presidents of the Inter-commission Committees, Chairs of the IAG Projects and the Assistant Secretaries shall attend any meeting of the Executive Committee, with voice but without vote.

The Past Presidents and past Secretary Generals may attend any meeting of the Executive Committee, with voice but without vote.

4. The First Meeting of the IAG Executive Committee 2003-3007

On Saturday afternoon, July 5, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. (!), the new Executive Committee met for the first time. The agenda (included below) was pretty busy.

Agenda of July 5 Meeting:

  1. Welcome
  2. Status of the transition phase in overview
  3. "Co-existence" of Commissions and Services
  4. Status of IGGOS Project
  5. Status of Outreach Branch
  6. Inter-commission Committees
  7. Commission structure "long-term entities"
  8. Study Groups: Status report
  9. The Geodesist's Handbook 2004
  10. Next IAG Executive Committee Meeting
  11. Any other business

Ad 2., 7., 9. There is a preliminary structure of the new structure available on the IAG homepage. The corresponding paper is entitled "New IAG Structure: Status March 2003". This draft structure is currently being further refined by the Commission presidents. Most of the long-term entities are known by now. The study groups still need considerable attention. The (more or less) final Commission structure will be available early in September.

The Bureau will then compile the available information and make the attempt to remove or minimize (possible) duplications etc. The months of October and November are reserved for fine-tuning. The Geodesist's Handbook 2004 must be at least as accurate, reliable, and valuable as source of information as its predecessor in 2000.

Ad 3. Commissions and Services are IAG structure elements on the same level of the hierarchy. Commissions and services are represented in the IAG Executive Committee. It is of vital importance that the interface between these two different types of entities works smoothly. In view of the substantially different working environments of Services and Commissions the task to set up a REAL interface is not at all trivial.

As a result of the discussion at the July 5 meeting, of a follow-up discussion at the IGS Governing Board meeting (in the second week of the Sapporo General Assembly) I decided to establish and chair an ad-hoc working group consisting of the three service representatives in the EC and myself in the Executive Committee with the goal to develop a "white paper" describing the interface between the IGS and the Commissions. After convergence this document should serve as a template for the other services, as well. The document should be available in September 2003.

Ad 4: Status of the IGGOS Project: A planning committee chaired by the undersigned, with Hermann Drewes as secretary, came up with the proposal to establish the IGGOS in 2003. As mentioned in section 3 of this report, the IAG Council approved the establishment of the IGGOS in Sapporo. The work of the planning group is contained in the document "Proposal to Establish the Integrated Global Geodetic Observing System (IGGOS) as IAG's First Project", by Gerhard Beutler, Hermann Drewes, Christoph Reigber and Reiner Rummel (on behalf of the IGGOS Planning Group)".

The essential elements of the report are:

DEFINITION: IGGOS stands for Integrated Global Geodetic Observing System. "System" should be understood as the basis on which the future advances in geosciences can be built. By considering the Earth system as a whole (including solid Earth, atmosphere, ocean, hydrosphere, ice, liquid core.), monitoring it by geodetic techniques and by studying it from the geodetic point of view, the geodetic community can provide the global geosciences community with a powerful tool consisting mainly of high quality services, standards and references, and theoretical and observational innovations.

The VISION statement, the MISSION, and the OBJECTIVES are contained in the proposal mentioned above.

SCIENCE RATIONALE and SCIENCE PLAN: IGGOS has a central theme and a master product. The theme must be scientifically sound, broad and include all the activities IGGOS might envisage in future.

"Global deformation and mass exchange processes in the System Earth" is the central theme.

INITIAL IGGOS STRUCTURE: The key elements of the initial IGGOS structure are:

  1. The IGGOS Project Board as the central oversight entity.
  2. Few well-defined Working Groups. The tasks of the working groups are to a high degree independent of the tasks of the IAG services.
  3. A Science Council representing the geodetic community. IGGOS will be based, to the extent possible, on the existing IAG Services. New entities will be created only, if absolutely necessary.

IGGOS DEFINITION PHASE: The time interval marked by the IUGG General Assembly in Sapporo and the IAG Scientific Assembly in Cairns should be viewed as the IGGOS definition phase.The main goals of the definition phase are

  • Derive the IGGOS Science Plan from the IGGOS Science Rationale
  • Define "final" structure
  • Prepare IGGOS implementation into more general entities (IUGG, UN, etc.)

IGGOS CHAIR 2003-2005: The IGGOS planning group proposed Prof. Christopher Reigber, GFZ, Potsdam, Germany as Chairman for the IGGOS definition phase 2003-2005. The (old) IAG Executive Committee approved this proposal and appointed Chris Reigber.

Here is an extract of his curriculum:

  • Member of the IGGOS planning group.
  • Came up with essential elements of our proposal to the IAG, which was accepted by the IAG Executive Committee in Nice.
  • Chaired CSTG for four years (1987-1991)
  • Chaired IAG Commission II for four years (1991-1995)
  • Chaired the IERS Directing Board (1996-2000)
  • Chaired the IGS Governing Board (1998-2001)
  • Project manager of the CHAMP mission (launched in 2000)
  • Co-investigator of the GRACE mission (launched 2002)

IGGOS was the (only) theme of the one-day G7-symposium on July 10 in Sapporo. The symposium attracted much attention and it was substantial. It became clear

  • that the IAG services will work very actively within IGGOS,
  • all major organizations are willing to collaborate,
  • that the scientific community approves the concept.

Let me mention in particular that the US American Proposal INDIGO was put into the IGGOS framework and that IUGG passed a resolution, where IAG and the other IUGG Associations are strongly encourage to establish IGGOS as geodesy's contribution to Earth Sciences.

5. IAG Personal Membership

This report revealed quite a few elements of the new IAG structure. One essential element was not touched, so far: It is possible now, to become an Individual Member of the IAG. There is a modest fee and there are a few privileges associated with this membership (see IAG ByLaws). The most important aspect from my perspective is the further development of the "IAG Esprit de Corps". The new Executive, after having decided to become individual members "in corpore", strongly encourages the greater scientific community of IAG to become IAG Members as soon as possible. Application forms are available at the new IAG homepage Please visit it -- even if you should not yet decide to become IAG members!

Yours sincerely,

Gerhard Beutler

President IAG

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