Articles | Volume 10, issue 1
Review article
16 Apr 2019
Review article |  | 16 Apr 2019

Preface to the special issue “The International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics: from different spheres to a common globe”

Jo Ann Joselyn and Alik Ismail-Zadeh

Many environmental challenges facing society since the last century require international solutions. Examples include exploration of the Earth and its environment in space; exploration of our rivers, oceans, and atmosphere; climate change; securing clean water and energy; and understanding and mitigating disasters due to natural hazard events. Earth and space sciences lie at the heart of these challenges and occupy a central role in international agendas.

The International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) has been coordinating and promoting international efforts in Earth and space sciences since 1919. Under IUGG's umbrella, eight international scientific associations and several interdisciplinary bodies cover many disciplines of geo- and space sciences and promote research of the Earth from its core and its space environment up to the Sun. Thousands of scientists from many nations and specific scientific disciplines have developed ways of cooperation through IUGG's international associations and learned how to work together to promote geosciences. IUGG has been initiating, developing, and implementing international cooperative programs; setting scientific standards; developing research tools; educating and building capacity; and contributing to science for policy and science diplomacy.

The purpose of this special issue (SI) is not to relay a definitive history of the development of international cooperation in the geosciences, but to summarize IUGG's remarkable role during the 100-year span of its existence. The first part of the SI “The union: bringing together geophysical disciplines” begins with the present overview of the IUGG mission and structure, and the circumstances of its founding and early development are presented up to the beginning of World War II. The second article starts with recovery after World War II and addresses the years of extraordinary development of geophysical science through the International Geophysical Year (IGY; 1957–1958) and the concurrent evolution of IUGG structure and programs extending up to the General Assembly of 1999. The rapid advances that have occurred thus far into the 21st century are reviewed in the third article, and foresights on IUGG future development conclude this first part of the SI. Outstanding histories of each of the IUGG associations are then told.

The second part of the SI “Around the earth: glaciers, rivers, air, and oceans” presents articles about the histories of the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS: past, present, and future of the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences), the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS: a brief history of hydrology), the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (IAMAS: a century of international cooperation in atmospheric sciences), and the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO: tales from the ocean frontier).

The third part of the SI “Within and on the earth: gravity, magnets, earthquakes, and volcanoes” presents articles about the histories of the International Association of Geodesy (The International Association of Geodesy: from an ideal sphere to an irregular body subjected to global change), the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA: a major role in understanding our magnetic planet), the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior (IASPEI: its origins and the promotion of global seismology), and the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI: from small beginnings to a vibrant international association).

This volume, proposed in 2014 by the IUGG Bureau, is the combined effort of a number of authors and advisors, including past and current IUGG and association officers. We are grateful to Franz Kuglitsch and Katina Rogers Roopchansingh for their technical and editorial assistance, to Hans Volkert for proposing the title of this SI and editorial support, and to reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions for revision of the initial manuscripts of the papers published in the SI. The IUGG archives, curated by the American Institute of Physics Center for the History of Physics (Gregory Good, director), located in College Park, MD, USA, were heavily consulted in preparation for this SI, and we acknowledge their helpful staff. We are very thankful to Kristian Schlegel, HGSS editor-in-chief, for his enthusiastic efforts and assistance in producing the SI.

Jo Ann Joselyn and Alik Ismail-Zadeh
SI Editors

Appendix A: List of acronyms
AfSC African Seismological Commission
AGU American Geophysical Union
AI artificial intelligence
AK1345 seismic travel-time model, without special meaning
AMS Army Map Service
AOGS Asia Oceania Geosciences Society
ASC Asian Seismological Commission
BAS British Antarctic Survey
BCE or BC Before Common Era
BGI Bureau Gravimétrique International
BHI Bureau International de l'Heure
BIPM Bureau International des Poids et Mesures
BV Bulletin Volcanologique (Bulletin of Volcanology)
CAST China Association for Science and Technology
CCEC Commission on Climatic and Environmental Change (IUGG)
CCTF Consultative Committee for Time and Frequency
CFC chlorofluorocarbon
CIESM Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la mer Méditerranée
CIG Comite Internationale de Geophysique
CIG Commission Internationale des Glaciers
CliC Climate and Cryosphere project (WCRP)
CME coronal mass ejection
CMG Commission on Mathematical Geophysics (IUGG)
CMIP Coupled Model Intercomparison Project
CMSLT Commission on Mean Sea Level and Tides
CNAA Committee on Nucleation and Atmospheric Aerosols (of ICCP)
CNES Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, France
CO2 carbon dioxide
CODATA Committee on Data for Science and Technology
COSPAR Committee on Space Research
COSTED Committee on Science and Technology in Developing Countries
CoV Cities on Volcanoes
COWAR Committee on Water Research
CRCM Commission on Recent Crustal Movements
CSAGI Committee for the International Geophysical Year
CSR Committee on Space Research (IUGG)
CSTG Coordination of Space Techniques for Geodesy and Geodynamics
CTBT Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
DACA-13 Davos Atmosphere and Cryosphere Assembly, 2013
DC District of Columbia
DFG German Research Foundation
DMI Danish Meteorological Institute
DOES Deep Ocean Exchange with the Shelf
DORIS Doppler Orbitography and Radiopositioning Integrated by Satellite
EC Executive Committee
ECR early career researcher
ECS early career scientist
ECV essential climate variable
ED50 European Datum 1950
EGIG Expédition Glaciologique Internationale au Groenland 1957–1960
eGY electronic Geophysical Year
EMSEV Inter-Association Working Group on Electromagnetic Studies of Earthquakes and Volcanoes
ENHANS Extreme Natural Hazards and Societal Implications
ENSO El Niño–Southern Oscillation
EOS-80 International Equation of State of Seawater – 1980
EOST Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre, Strasbourg
ESA European Space Agency
ESC European Seismological Commission
ESM Earth System Model
FAGS Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Data Analysis Services
FAO The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FDSN International Federation of Digital Seismograph Networks
FIG Fédération Internationale de Géomètres
FRG Federal Republic of Germany
G7 Group of Seven countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, and USA
GA general assembly
GAPHAZ Glacier and Permafrost Hazards in Mountains standing group (IACS & IPA)
GARP Global Atmospheric Research Program
GCOS Global Climate Observing System
GDP International Geodynamics Project
GDR German Democratic Republic
GEBCO General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans
GEO Group on Earth Observations
GEOSS Global Earth Observation System of Systems
GEWEX Global Energy and Water Exchanges project (WCRP)
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
GGOS Global Geodetic Observing System
GGRF Global Geodetic Reference Frame
GGP Global Geodynamics Project
GIS Geographic Information System
GLASS GEWEX Land Atmosphere System Study
GLIMS Global Land Ice Measurements from Space initiative
GLOF glacier lake outburst flood
GLOSS Global Sea Level Observing System
GNSS Global Navigation Satellite Systems
GOOS Global Ocean Observing System
GPS Global Positioning System
GRC Commission on Geophysical Risk and Sustainability (IUGG)
GRS 67 Geodetic Reference System 1967
GRS 80 Geodetic Reference System 1980
GRACE Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment
GTN-G Global Terrestrial Network for Glaciers (GCOS)
GVP Global Volcanism Program (SI)
HMS His/Her Majesty's Ship
HMSH His Most Serene Highness
HSJ Hydrological Sciences Journal (IAHS)
IABO International Association for Biological Oceanography
IACS International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IUGG)
IAG International Association of Geodesy (IUGG)
IAGA International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IUGG)
IAGC International Association of Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry
IAGP International Antarctic Glaciological Project
IAHR International Association of Hydraulic Research
IAHS International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IUGG)
IAM International Association for Meteorology (IUGG); previous name for IAMAS
IAMAP International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics (IUGG); previous name for IAMAS
IAMAS International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences (IUGG)
IAPO International Association of Physical Oceanography (IUGG); previous name for IAPSO
IAPSO International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IUGG)
IAPWS International Association for the Properties of Water and Steam
IASC International Arctic Science Committee
IASH International Association of Scientific Hydrology (IUGG); previous name for IAHS
IASPEI International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth's Interior (IUGG)
IASPEI91 seismic travel-time model, without special meaning
IASY International Years of the Active Sun
IATME International Association of Terrestrial Magnetism and Electricity (IUGG); previous name for IAGA
IAU International Astronomical Union
IAV International Association of Volcanology (IUGG); previous name for IAVCEI
IAVCEI International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IUGG)
ICACGP International Commission of Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution (IAMAS)
ICAE International Commission on Atmospheric Electricity (IAMAS)
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization
ICCE International Commission on Continental Erosion (IAHS)
ICCL International Commission on Climate (IAMAS)
ICCLAS International Commission on the Coupled Land-Atmosphere System
ICCP International Commission of Clouds and Precipitation (IAMAS)
ICCT Inter-Commission Committee on Theory (IAG)
ICDM International Commission on Dynamical Meteorology (IAMAS)
ICES International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
ICET International Centre for Earth Tides
ICGEM International Centre for Global Earth Models
ICGW International Commission on Groundwater (IAHS)
ICMA International Commission on the Middle Atmosphere (IAMAS)
ICPAE International Commission on Planetary Atmospheres and their Evolution (IAMAS)
ICPM International Commission on Polar Meteorology (IAMAS)
ICRCM International Centre on Recent Crustal Movements
ICRS International Commission on Remote Sensing (IAHS)
ICSH International Commission on Statistical Hydrology (IAHS)
ICSI International Commission on Snow and Ice (IAHS)
ICSIH International Commission on Snow and Ice Hydrology (IAHS)
ICSU International Council for Science; formerly, International Council of Scientific Unions
ICSW International Commission on Surface Water (IAHS)
ICT International Commission on Tracers
ICTP Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics
ICWQ International Commission on Water Quality (IAHS)
ICWRS International Commission on Water Resources Systems (IAHS)
IDEMS International Digital Elevation Model Service
IDNDR International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction
IDS International DORIS Service
IEEY International Equatorial Electrojet Year
IERS International Earth Rotation Service
IGAC International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment
IGBP International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme
IGC International Geological Congress
IGEMS Integrated Global Earth Monitoring System
IGeS International Geoid Service
IGETS International Geodynamics and Earth Tide Service
IGFS International Gravity Field Service
IGRF International Geomagnetic Reference Field
IGS International GNSS Service (previously International GPS Geodynamics Service,
International Service for Geodynamics)
IGS International Glaciological Society
IGSN 71 International Gravity Standardization Net 1971
IGY International Geophysical Year
IHA International Hydrology Association
IHD International Hydrological Decade
IHDP International Human Dimensions Programme
IHP International Hydrological Programme
IHY International Heliophysical Year
IIOE-2 Second International Indian Ocean Expedition
iLEAPS Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study
ILP International Lithosphere Program
ILRS International Laser Ranging Service
ILS International Latitude Service
IMO International Meteorological Organization; former name for the WMO
IOC Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
IOC or IO3C International Ozone Commission (IAMAS)
IOS UK Institute of Oceanographic Sciences
ION International Ocean Network
IPA International Permafrost Association
IPCC International Panel on Climate Change
IPGH Instituto Panamericano de Geografia Historia (also PAIGH)
IPMS International Polar Motion Service
IPY International Polar Year
IPYDIS IPY Data and Information Service
IQSY International Years of the Quiet Sun
IRC International Research Council
IRC International Radiation Commission (IAMAS)
IRDR Integrated Research on Disaster Risk
ISA International Seismological Association
ISC International Science Council
ISC International Seismological Centre (UK)
ISG International Service for the Geoid
ISGI International Service of Geomagnetic Indices
ISO International Organization for Standardization
ISS International Seismological Summary
ISSC International Social Science Council
ITD inter- and trans-disciplinary
ITRF International Terrestrial Reference Frame
ITU International Telecommunications Union
IUBS International Union of Biological Sciences
IUCI Inter-Union Commission on the Ionosphere
IUCRM Inter-Union Commission on Radio Meteorology
IUCSTP Inter-Union Commission on Solar-Terrestrial Physics
IUGG International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
IUGS International Union of Geological Sciences
IUPAC International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
IUPAP International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
IVS International VLBI Service for Geodesy and Astrometry
IY International Year
IYD International Year of Deltas
IYGU International Year of Global Understanding
IYPE International Year of the Planet Earth
JCS The Joint Committee on the Properties of Seawater
JPOTS Joint Panel on Oceanographic Tables and Standards
KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
LACSC Latin American and Caribbean Seismological Commission
LOICZ Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone
MAP Middle Atmosphere Programme
MEMS micro-electro-mechanical systems
MOCA-09 Meteorology, Ocean and Cryosphere Assembly, held in Montreal in 2009
MOCA-21 Meteorology, Ocean and Cryosphere Assembly, to be held in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2021
m.s.l. mean sea level
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration (USA)
NMSOP-2 New Manual of the Seismological Observatory Practice (second edition)
NNR NUVEL-1A No Net Rotation Northwestern University Velocity model 1A
NSIDC National Snow and Ice Data Center (USA)
OGO Orbiting Geophysical Observatory
OSIL Ocean Scientific International Ltd.
PAIGH Pan-American Institute of Geography and History (also IPGH)
PC personal computer
PIAHS Proceedings of IAHS
PIOSA Pan-Indian Ocean Science Association
POGO Polar Orbiting Geophysical Observatory
PRC People's Republic of China
PREM Preliminary Reference Earth Model (IASPEI)
PSA Pacific Science Association
PSFG Permanent Service on the Fluctuations of Glaciers
PSMSL Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level
PSS-78 Practical Salinity Scale 1978
PUB Prediction in Ungauged Basins program (IAHS)
RETrig Réseau Européen de Triangulation
REUN Réseau Européen Unifié de Nivellement
ROC Republic of China
ROSTSEA UNESCO Regional Office for Science and Technology for Southwest Asia
SA scientific assembly
SCAR Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research
SCL Scientific Committee on the Lithosphere
SCOPE Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment
SCOR Scientific Committee on Ocean Research
SCOSTEP Scientific Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Physics
SCOWAR Scientific Committee on Water Research
SDG Sustainable Development Goal
SDO Solar Dynamics Observatory
SEAN Scientific Event Alert Network
SEDI Commission on Study of Earth's Deep Interior (IUGG)
SFE solar flare effect
SHS Section d'Hydrologie Scientifique (IUGG)
SI Smithsonian Institute for Natural Sciences
SLR satellite laser ranging
SnowMIP Snow Model Intercomparison Project
SOHO Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
SOLAS Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study
SP6 seismic travel-time model, without special meaning
SPARC Stratosphere-troposphere Processes And their Role in Climate
SR Reference Salinity
SSC storm sudden commencement
SST Sea surface temperature
SV Section of Volcanology (IUGG)
TEOS-10 Thermodynamic Equation of Seawater – 2010
TFDC Task Force for Developing Countries (IAHS)
TGF transient gamma ray bursts
TLE transient luminous events
TS/WGI Technical Secretariat for the World Glacier Inventory
UAV unmanned aerial vehicles
UCCS Commission for the Cryospheric Sciences (IUGG)
UCDI Commission on Data and Information (IUGG)
UCPS Commission on Planetary Sciences (IUGG)
UGGI Union Géodésique et Géophysique Internationale (French name of IUGG)
UK United Kingdom
UMC Upper Mantle Committee
UMP Upper Mantle Project
UN United Nations
UNEP UN Environmental Program
UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNISDR United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, established to ensure the implementation
of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
URSI Union Radio Scientifique Internationale (International Union of Radio Sciences)
USA United States of America
USD USA dollar
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
UV radiation ultraviolet radiation from the Sun
VERSIM VLF/ELF Remote Sensing of Ionospheres and Magnetospheres
VLBI very long baseline interferometry
WCRP World Climate Research Programme
WDMAM World Digital Magnetic Anomaly Map
WDC World Data Center
WDS World Data System
WG working group
WGH Union Working Group on History of Earth and Space Sciences (IUGG)
WGMS World Glacier Monitoring Service
WMO World Meteorological Organization
WMS World Magnetic Survey
WWI First World War
WWII Second World War