Ninety Years of International Cooperation in Geophysics
Because applicable physical, chemical, and mathematical studies of the Earth system must be both
interdisciplinary and international, the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) was formed in
1919 as an non-governmental, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing, promoting, and communicating
knowledge of the Earth system, its space environment, and the dynamical processes causing change. The
Union brings together eight International Associations that address different disciplines of Earth sciences.
Through these Associations, IUGG promotes and enables studies in the geosciences by providing a
framework for collaborative research and information exchange, by organizing international scientific
assemblies worldwide, and via research publications. Resolutions passed by assemblies of IUGG and its
International Associations set geophysical standards and promote issues of science policy on which national
IUGG has initiated and/or vigorously supported collaborative international efforts that have led to highly
productive worldwide interdisciplinary research programs, such as the International Geophysical Year and
subsequent International Years (IPY, IYPE, eGY, and IHY), International Lithosphere Programme, World
Climate Research Programme, Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, and Integrated Research on Risk
Disaster. IUGG is inherently involved in the projects and programs related to climate change, global warming,
and related environmental impacts. One major contribution has been the creation, through the International
Council for Science (ICSU), of the World Data Centers and the Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical
Data Analysis Services. These are being transformed to the ICSU World Data System, from which the data
gathered during the major programs and data products will be available to researchers everywhere. IUGG
cooperates with UNESCO, WMO, and some other U.N. and non-governmental organizations in the study of
natural catastrophes, climate dynamics, and in geodetic, hydrological, meteorological, oceanographic,
seismological, and volcanological research. IUGG also places particular emphasis on the scientific problems
of economically less-developed countries by sponsoring activities relevant to their scientific needs (e.g.
Geosciences in Africa, Water Resources, Health and Well-Being etc.)
The American Geophysical Union was established as the U.S. National Committee for IUGG in 1919 and today
has become a distinguished union of individual geoscientists around the world. Several regional geoscience
societies also evolved during the last several decades, most prominent being the European Geosciences
Union and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society. These, and some other national and regional geophysical
societies, together with IUGG play a strong part in the international cooperation and promotion of geophysical
sciences. At the same time the "geosciences" space is getting crowded, and there is a lot of overlap.
International linkages between IUGG, AGU, EGU and other geophysical societies as well as their linkage with
International Scientific Unions, that comprise the GeoUnions, are going to become more and more important.
Working together is going to be more fruitful than territorial disputes. But what mechanisms can be used to
encourage relationships between the international, national and regional geophysical and geoscientific
bodies? We will discuss some possibilities on how to come together, to develop and to implement joint
programs, research meeting, open forums, and policy statements.
National vs International Cooperation in Research vs Academic Earth and Space Sciences
The challenges of present Earth and space science successful programs highly depends on a number of factors which are different from lat century. Most of the problems to be addressed need not only multidisciplinary, but also transdisciplinary approaches. Research teams have to be composed of both experienced experts and young, dynamic, ready-to-learn youngsters who need to bring our science to the next step of humanity development. Nowadays, successful teams are working in a synergetic way, and they normally cross multiple boundaries. Advanced countries need to bring less developed ones to quickly reach higher development levels, by integrating the local specialists into the advanced programs and helping them to bring back home the expertise they gained, for a successful know-how transfer. We can be stronger only working together, for the benefit of all. Moreover, in Earth and space science, the traditional scientific boundaries between the deep Earth, Mantle and solid crust, oceans, atmosphere and space are slowly but surely dissipating, making room to more "vertical" scientific angles, superposed on a broader, horizontally- geographically background. In such a way, we indeed foresee a 3-D approach in a world deeply concerned by the economical crisis. Scientists need to do much more to present Scientists need to focus more on educating the generations to come, and a much more careful attention has to be paid to our children-teenagers-younger colleagues… Our science to decision makers and make them understanding why Earth and space investigation has to be in the forefront of the further developments on a very fragile Earth.
Strengthening International Collaboration: Geosciences Research and Education in Developing Countries
Geophysical research increasingly requires global multidisciplinary approaches and global integration. Global warming, increasing CO2 levels and increased needs of mineral and energy resources emphasize impact of human activities. The planetary view of our Earth as a deeply complex interconnected system also emphasizes the need of international scientific cooperation. International collaboration presents an immense potential and is urgently needed for further development of geosciences research and education. In analyzing international collaboration a relevant aspect is the role of scientific societies. Societies organize meetings, publish journals and books and promote cooperation through academic exchange activities and can further assist communities in developing countries providing and facilitating access to scientific literature, attendance to international meetings, short and long-term stays and student and young researcher mobility. Developing countries present additional challenges resulting from limited economic resources and social and political problems. Most countries urgently require improved educational and research programs. Needed are in-depth analyses of infrastructure and human resources and identification of major problems and needs. Questions may include what are the major limitations and needs in research and postgraduate education in developing countries? what and how should international collaboration do? and what are the roles of individuals, academic institutions, funding agencies, scientific societies? Here we attempt to examine some of these questions with reference to case examples and AGU role. We focus on current situation, size and characteristics of research community, education programs, facilities, economic support, and then move to perspectives for potential development in an international context.