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Minutes of the IAG Executive Committee Meeting

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Gyula Tóth
Minutes of the IAG Executive Committee Meeting

by Christian Tscherning, Secretary General


Cairns, Australia, August 24, 2005; 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.


Attendants: Gerhard Beutler (EC), Carl Christian Tscherning (EC), Hermann Drewes (EC), Chris Rizos (EC), Véronique Dehant (EC), Chris Jekeli (EC), Ruth Neilan (EC), József Ádám (EC), Harald Schuh (EC), Markus Rothacher (EC), Jean-Pierre Barriot, René Forsberg, Klaus-Peter Schwarz, Luiz Paulo S. Fortes (EC).

EC: Voting EC members

Guests: Christopher Reigber (agenda item 2), Daniel Gambis (agenda item 3).

1. Adoption of agenda

The meeting was opened at 1 p.m. by the president. The written agenda, prepared by the IAG secretary general, was adopted. The minimum number of seven voting EC members to have a quorum was reached.

2. GGOS status and Leadership.

Prof. Christoph Reigber (GFZ Potsdam), chair of the GGOS project, presented the 36-pages document GGOS Implementation Plan (see Appendix 1,          http://www.gfy.ku.dk/~iag/ecag05doc/GGOS_IP_draft1_180805.pdf ), which was developed between 2003 and 2005. Reigber pointed out that the document should not be viewed as a final, but as a working document, which should be used as a guide to implement GGOS in the following years. He also reported on the meeting of the GGOS steering committee on Monday, August 22. At this meeting, Reigber confirmed that he will not be available as GGOS chair after the IAG executive committee meeting on August 24. In the name of the steering committee he proposed Prof. Markus Rothacher, new Director of GFZ Department 1, as Chair and Ruth Neilan, director of the IGS Central Bureau, as Vice-chair of the new GGOS steering committee. Beutler mentioned that he was contacted by several members of the “old” steering committee after the Monday meeting, who pointed out the work of Hans-Peter Plag to establish a geodesy-related theme in IGOS-P and proposed that Plag might be a valuable candidate as a second Vice-chair. Concerns regarding this proposal (in particular whether it was “legal”) were raised by Drewes and Forsberg. After discussion, the following decisions were taken:


1. GGOS shall continue and enter the implementation phase starting October 1, 2005.

2. The implementation should be based on the above mentioned GGOS implementation plan.

3. Prof. Markus Rothacher was appointed as the new GGOS Chair for the time period 2005-07.

4. Ruth Neilan and Hans-Peter Plag were appointed as Vice-chairs for the same time period.

The steering committee is free to further define its internal structure (e.g., to establish a secretariat). Major modifications and the composition of the steering committee shall be reported to the IAG Executive committee..Beutler thanked Reigber for his work in the past two years and asked him to forward the thanks to the entire committee. Reigber left the meeting.

3. Proposed changes in UTC.

Daniel Gambis (Observatoire de Paris) informed the IAG Executive Committee on the attempt of ITU (Intl. Telecommunication Union) to change the definition of UTC in the near future. It is proposed to stop introducing leap seconds – making UTC in essence another realization of the international atomic time (apart from the origin). For details see http://www.gfy.ku.dk/~iag/ecag05doc/ecag05doc.htm .

No consensus could be reached on the best possible way to solve the problem. The outcome of the “opinion poll” performed by the IERS indicates, however, that a clear majority of IERS/IAG-related scientists and practitioners wish to stay with the current practice. Eventually, the following resolution was adopted by 6 votes to 3(text by Ch. Jekeli):On the basis of the outcome of the surveys conducted by the IERS, which indicate that a large majority in the IAG user community is for maintaining the status quo, the IAG EC recommends at this time no change in the current method of relating UTC to UT1.A letter, to be signed by the IAG president, will be sent to ITU (address to be provided by Daniel Gambis)

within the next 2-3 weeks. Beutler thanked Daniel Gambis for his presentation.

After that, Daniel Gambis left the meeting.

4. Best Young Author Award and Report on JoG.

There was only one proposal (by the JoG editor in chief, Will Featherstone). In order to give the EC members the opportunity to read the article, the Secretary General will send out an e-mail with the reference and thereafter conduct a vote by e-mail.

5. Cairnsmeeting

Ch. Rizos presented some statistical information concerning the combined IAG/IAPSO/IABO meeting. All in all more than 700 participant registered, of which about 130 from IAG. From attending the IAG sessions, one is tempted to conclude that in reality there were more than 130 IAG delegates. It is not possible to reconstruct more accurate figures a posteriori. Rizos also asked for feed-back of the organisation.

6. IUGG Perugia

As usual, the Secretary General will roughly structure the union and inter-association symposia for the IUGG General Assembly in Perugia. The IAG-“internal” symposia will have to be structured by the IAG commissions, taking into account also the interests of the inter-commission committees. Tscherning presented preliminary proposals for the union and inter-association symposia. More/alternative proposals for inter-association symposia should be sent to Tscherning (through the commission presidents) before September 10, 2005. Tscherning’s proposal (see http://www.gfy.ku.dk/~iag/ecag05doc/ecag05doc.htm ) was discussed and accepted by the EC.

7. New IUGG Association on Glaciology

The International Commission on Snow and Ice, currently a sub-entity of IAHS, (Intl. Ass. Of Hydrological Science) made the proposal to become the eighth association of the IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics). As no new IUGG association was created in the last fifty+ years, the IAG president wanted to have an indication how to vote at the IUGG Executive committee meeting.in Perugia (see  http://www.gfy.ku.dk/~iag/ecag05doc/ecag05doc.htm ). All voting members were in favor, one, however, asked for more information (which he received meanwhile). The issue was not further discussed, the outcome of the e-mail vote is taken as an indication for IAG to vote in favor of founding the IUGG association.

8. ICC on Planetary Geodesy

Jean-Pierre Barriot reported on the status of the newly created Inter-commission committee on planetary geodesy and recommended that either the ICC should be discontinued in 2007 or the scope of the ICC should be broadened by including radio-science. A combination of the ICC with a sub-entity of URSI might make sense. From the formal point of view this is possible (observe, e.g., that Commission 1, and previously CSTG are/were also COSPAR units). Barriot will prepare a concrete proposal concerning the future of the ICC on planetary geodesy in the near future, which will be discussed by e-mail.

9. ICC on Standards – Status

The proposal to establish an ICC on Standards was not accepted by the EC (see minutes of IAG EC meeting 2004). The GGOS planning group was given the responsibility to take over this responsibility. This is still the plan. GGOS is responsible for issuing and publishing in the Geodestist’s Handbook 2008 the next article “fundamental parameters and current best estimates …” corresponding to Erwin Groten’s article in the Geodesist’s Handbook 2004 (pp. 724-731). There should be no conflicts between the IERS conventions and the new document.

10. IGFS status

Rene Forsberg gave a brief report on the status of the newly created International Gravity Field Service IGFS (see http://www.igfs.net for more information). It was pointed out by the president and others that the IGFS, among other, should play a comparable role in the gravity field description and determination, as the IERS plays it for the geometry-related IAG products. This implies in particular that the IGFS should compare, evaluate, and possibly combine different solutions for the gravity field. It should define the official IAG product. As in the geometry-related products, the user community should have no difficulty in finding the official IAG gravity field (and geoid). Forsberg indicated that currently the IGFS is not yet in a position to deliver these products, but that it is a declared goal to do that some time in the future.

11. Altimetry Service status

Drewes briefly summarized the work performed in the Inter-commission project IC-P1. 1 (joint with commissions 2, 3) on satellite altimetry. The Inter-commission project is chaired by Wolfgang Bosch. The IC-P wishes to have a resolution adopted by both, IAG and IAPSO, to support the creation of an altimetry service.


After discussion, the following resolution was unanimously approved:


•    On the occasion of the Dynamic Planet 2005 conference in Cairns, Australia, the International Association of Geodesy, IAG, and the International Association of the Physical Science of the Ocean, IAPSO, both recognize satellite altimetry as an important space technique with interdisciplinary application in oceanography, geodesy, hydrology, and glaciology, demonstrating that satellite altimetry has to be an essential component of any global observing system such as GOOS, GGOS.

•     IAG and IAPSO also recognize the necessity to set up and maintain the longest possible time series of altimeter observations with up-to-date geophysical corrections and consolidated geocentric reference, which implies a close attention to the long-term stability of altimeter and ancillary sensors..

• IAG and IAPSO therefore recommend to establish a mission-independent International Altimeter Service with the primary objective to serve operational and scientific users with altimeter data and value-added products, to coordinate and cooperate with space agencies, processing centres, and scientific laboratories, and other existing services.

Two options to proceed were discussed. Either the IAG president sends a letter to Dr. Wolfang Bosch stating that “the IAG Executive Committee, on the occasion of its meeting on August 24, 2005 in Cairns approved the resolution (cited above) or, alternatively, one letter signed by the IAG- and the IAPSO-president is sent to Wolfgang Bosch. The decision how to proceed was left to the IAG Bureau.

Epilogue: As IAPSO did not deal with the issue (due to a misunderstanding) at its EC meeting, the solution with separate letters seems appropriate. The IAPSO-president currently deals with the issue by e-mail and “promised” to write a comparable letter as the IAG president.

12. Review of the commission sub-entities (study groups, projects)

Ole Anderson, assistant secretary general, sent out a letter (e-mail) to the IAG entities (and some officers) asking for mid-term reports. Unfortunately, Ole did not follow up on this issue. The Commissions are now requested to send their reports (if not already done) for electronic publication in the next issue of the IAG Travaux till the end of September. The travaux shall be published this year on the IAG website.

13. Interface/MoU between commissions and services

In 2004 Beutler wrote a draft version of the MoU concerning the interface between commissions and services. Meanwhile, experiences were gained in some of the services (e.g., the IGS) and commissions (e.g., 1 and 3). Based on these experiences, the Interface/MoU shall be revised by R. Neilan, M. Rothacher, H. Schuh (EC services representatives) and Rizos, Drewes (the commissions having most interfaces with the services). A first review hopefully will be available at the end of 2005.

14. Review Committee: Status of Work

The Committee was previously called Cassinis Committee. Klaus-Peter Schwarz, head of the Committee, gave a status report. Further input is welcome from EC members and IAG individual members in order to prepare the revised statutes / by-laws.

15. Nomination Committee

Around mid-term, the IAG president has to nominate the president and the members of the IAG nomination committee, who are responsible to come up with a list of candidates for IAG officers in the next IAG legislation period. Following the tradition, Beutler asked the immediate past president of IAG to preside the committee. Fernando Sanso was asked prior to the meeting to serve. He accepted. Proffs. Reiner Rummel, C. Wilson, L.P.S. Fortes were asked and accepted to become members of the committee. Schwarz, who presided the committee for the 2003 elections, promised to provide Sanso, the committee members, and the IAG president with a “roadmap”. Due to the retirement of Christian Tscherning as IAG Secretary General, a new IAG Secretary General has to be elected. In a first stage, the procedure for electing the new Secretary General is separated from the other nominations and elections, because the election is based on a call for proposals, which have to be evaluated by the IAG Executive. Beutler proposed that Tscherning will come up.with a draft for the call for proposals in the near future. The proposal will be reviewed in the Bureau and the call will be sent out before Christmas 2005.

16. Report from Secretary General

Chritian Tscherning gave a brief report concerning the IAG finances including the membership status. The full report is provided in http://www.gfy.ku.dk/~iag/ecag05doc/ecag05doc.htm . It seems that the Association is healthy – at least when viewed from the financial side. He also reminded the EC members that IAG spends most of its money (coming from IUGG, individual membership fees and donations) for meetings and to sponsor young scientists to attend IAG(-related) meetings. This policy found the approval of the EC.

17. Report on activities for French-speaking communities

Barriot reported on his activities related to attracting the francophone community interested in or related to geodesy. Certain possibilities will be persued especially in the area of education.

18. Sponsorship of meetings, workshops, symposia

Tscherning mentioned that no requests had been received recently.

19. Citation of products from IAG Services

Ruth Neilan pointed out the importance that the work of the services is recognized by the larger scientific community (see http://www.gfy.ku.dk/~iag/ecag05doc/ecag05doc.htm ). The recognition is fully justified: Many scientific papers are based on the IAG services’ work. Attempts are underway to improve the visibility on the level of the services. In future, the services should have on their homepages references, the users of products are asked to quote. Some services already established this policy. It seems that the services’ work and the GGOS project might be highlighted in a series of short articles in EOS (contact established between Tscherning and Richard Gross).

20. Next meeting

The next meeting will take place during the EGU Assembly, Vienna, 10 April 2006 at the premises of Technical University of Vienna.

21. AOB

Luis Paulo Fortes gave a short report on the activities of committee of developing countries.


Respectfully submitted


Christian Tscherning

Secretary General

Perugia, September 9, 2005