IUGG Electronic Journal Volume 10 Number 11 (1 November 2010)


The IUGG Electronic Journal
Volume 10 No. 11 (1 November 2010)

This informal newsletter is intended to keep IUGG Member National
Committees informed about the activities of the IUGG Associations, and
actions of the IUGG Secretariat. Past issues are posted on the IUGG Web
site (http://www.iugg.org/publications/ejournals/). Please forward this
message to those who will benefit from the information. Your comments are
1.      IUGG President visits the Austrian Adhering Body
2.      Correction and Updates to the IUGG Yearbook
3.      Report on the ENHANS Project: Focus on Latin America and the Caribbean
4.      Report on the IUGG GeoRisk Commission – EuroScience Symposium
5.      Awards and Honours
6.      UNOOSA and JBGIS Publish Booklet
7.      Obituary
8.      IUGG-related meetings occurring during November 2010 - January 2011
1. IUGG President visits the Austrian Adhering Body
On Friday 22 October, the IUGG President Tom Beer paid a courtesy visit to
the headquarters of the BEV, the Federal Office of Metrology and
Surveying, which is the Austrian Adhering Body to IUGG. The forthcoming
XXV IUGG General Assembly in Melbourne 27 June – 8 July 2011 was a major
topic of conversation. Because Vienna was the location of the XX IUGG
General Assembly in 1991, President Beer was most appreciative of the
conference insights that his hosts proffered.
2. Corrections and Updates to the IUGG Yearbook
Corrections and updates to the information contained in the 2010 IUGG
Yearbook are now being finalized in preparation for the 2011 Yearbook.
Please contact the IUGG Secretariat by 30 November (Simone.Oswald@kit.edu
or Fax: +49 721 71176) with additions and corrections.
3. Report on the ENHANS Project: Focus on Latin America and the Caribbean
The first ENHANS Project events took place at the Meeting of the Americas
in Iguassu, Brazil on 9–10 August 2010. The project “Extreme Natural
Hazards and Societal Implications – ENHANS” is sponsored by ICSU and
co-sponsored by several international and intergovernmental organizations
(http://www.enhans.org). The symposium on Natural Hazards and Disaster
Risks in Latin America and the Caribbean was convened by O. Cordona
(Colombia), A. Ismail-Zadeh (Germany), and V. Kossobokov (Russia). A.
Lavell (Costa Rica) spoke about the new multidisciplinary research
programme of ICSU “Integrated Research on Disaster Risk” and discussed the
content and significance of the programme when looking at concrete
examples of the social construction of risk in the Latin American and
Caribbean region. T. Gibbs (Barbados) presented his view on meteorological
hazards and associated risks in the Caribbean. The talk was followed by
the presentation “A scaling criterion to estimate and compare the volcanic
hazard among different volcanoes” by S. De La Cruz-Reyna (Mexico). O.
Perez (Venezuela) spoke about earthquake activity and associated hazards
in South America and the Caribbean and about the socio-economic impact of
severe earthquakes in these regions. I. Alcantara-Ayala (Mexico) discussed
the anatomy of landslides disasters and presented case studies from Mexico
and other South American countries. A. Soloviev (Russia) discussed
problems in seismic hazard assessment and earthquake predictability, and
V. Kossobokov continued the discussion on the predictability of extreme
events presenting the paper “Natural Hazards At Extreme: Predictive
Understanding Versus Complex Reality”. O. Cardona (Colombia) spoke about
indicators of disaster risk and risk management in the Americas. F.
Romanelli (Italy) presented scenario-based seismic hazard assessment
methodology and its implication to hazard evaluation in Valparaiso. H.
Salmun (USA) discussed the statistical prediction of storm surge in the
New York Metropolitan area, and A. Rice (USA) spoke about multiple
meteoroid impacts in Antarctica and implications for humanity. Two oral
sessions of the symposium were continued as a poster session of 25 papers.
Another exciting ENHANS event was a town hall meeting on “Natural Hazards
in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC): From Risk to Opportunity by
Partnership of Science and Society”. The meeting focused on the following
aspects: How can science (both natural and social) and society form a
partnership for disaster reduction? How can a science and society
partnership convert natural disaster risk to opportunity? What are the
urgent issues of disaster risk in LAC cities and regions under
intensifying natural and social pressure? A. Lavell (Latin American Social
Sciences Faculty – FLACSO and LA RED, Costa Rica; member of the ICSU
Scientific Committee “Integrated Research on Disaster Risk” and ICSU
Regional Office for LAC) spoke about the increasing importance of disaster
risk management on the political agenda. Disaster Risk Management is still
not of sufficient social and political relevance given current and future
predicted disaster trends and costs. K. Alverson (Director, Global Ocean
Observing System, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO)
presented how the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) develops in Latin
America and the Caribbean. The talk focused on the importance of sustained
ocean observing systems that need to be in place both to prevent and to
mitigate disasters, where possible, but also in order to rapidly bring
observing assets to bear in post disaster relief efforts. Natural coastal
inundation hazards, such as storm surge and tsunami, as well as
anthropogenic hazards, such as oil spills, were discussed, focusing where
possible on Latin America and the Caribbean, including the Gulf of Mexico.
P. Boccardo (Director, ITHACA, and Professor of Politechnico di Torino,
Italy) presented at first the ITHACA - Information Technology for
Humanitarian Assistance, Cooperation and Action. Through its partnership
with the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) - the world's largest operational
humanitarian agency - ITHACA is envisioned as a centre of applied research
developing IT products and services in support of humanitarian activities
especially during natural disasters. Boccardo also discussed geomatics and
disaster management in the case of the recent Haiti earthquake disaster.
The presentation highlighted issues and challenges associated with
emergencies related to natural disasters. Using an example of the recent
catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Boccardo discussed data acquisition in
the region, their processing and information extraction. Milestones gained
and issues to be approached have been also discussed, with the aim of
setting up effective procedures suitable for technologic assistance to
early impact and reconstruction phases.
Jaime Urrutia Fucugauchi (AGU International Secretary) and Alik
Ismail-Zadeh (IUGG Secretary General) moderated the town hall meeting’s
discussion. Two panellists, I. Alcantara-Ayala (Vice-President of the
International Geographical Union) and M. McPhaden (President of the
American Geophysical Union), mentioned how professional societies can
assist in mitigation of natural hazards and disasters. The speakers and
panellists answered questions of the attendees.
4. Report on the IUGG GeoRisk Commission – EuroScience Symposium
The Symposium “Disaster Prediction and Management”, co-sponsored by IUGG
and EUROSCIENCE and organized by the IUGG GeoRisk Commission and the
Euroscience Working Group “Science and Urgent Problems of Society”, was
held on 6 July 2010 in Turin, Italy. The symposium attracted the attention
of the mass media and representatives various fields of knowledge.
Contemporary science is responsible for coping with the challenging
changes of exposures and vulnerability inflicted by the growing
population, its concentration, etc., which result in the observed steady
increase of social losses due to natural disasters. Scientists should
guide society in problems of natural hazards assimilating a relevant
knowledge, educating population and communicating to public and policy
makers. The symposium demonstrated that contemporary science can do a
better job in disclosing natural hazards, assessing risks, and delivering
such info in advance of catastrophic events. Geoscientists initiate the
shifting of the minds of the community from pessimistic disbelieve to
optimistic challenging issues of hazard predictability (based on the
recent, enormous progress in real-time data retrieval and monitoring of
distributed multiple geophysical characteristics world-wide). Giuliano
Panza (Italy) spoke about new approaches in seismic hazard and risk
assessment. Jacques Zlotnicki (France) spoke about volcano hazards
analysis and mitigation using various geophysical techniques. Vladimir
Kossobokov (Russia) spoke about the statistical approach to the analysis
of extreme natural events and about their predictability. Alik
Ismail-Zadeh (Germany) emphasized the importance of the research on
extreme natural hazards and discussed the societal impact of natural
disasters. The German Radio SWR2 broadcast the interview with the
participants of the symposium on 11 July.
5. Awards and Honours
Sierd Cloetingh (President of the International Lithosphere Program that
is co-sponsored by IUGG and IUGS) has been awarded the 2010 Alexander von
Humboldt Prize. Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation presents
this prize to two non-German scientists whom they expect to make an
important scientific contribution in the years to come. Recently, Sierd
Cloetingh has also been named as the only Earth scientist to be a member
of the European Research Council, which is the European funding
organization recently set up to support investigator-driven frontier
6. UNOOSA and JBGIS Publish Booklet “Geoinformation for Disaster and Risk
Management - Best Practices and Examples”

This landmark booklet published by the Joint Board of Geospatial
Information Societies (JBGIS) and the United Nations Office for Outer
Space Affairs (UNOOSA) outlines the potential uses of geo-information
technologies to reduce the impact of natural or manmade disasters and
risks. It brings together concise scientific contributions from experts
around the world and creates a decision support forum based on their
knowledge. The articles in the booklet cover natural disasters like
earthquake, flood, volcano outbreak, tsunami, landslide, dust storm and
wildfire, as well as societal issues like health care, refugee camps,
urban sprawl and traffic infrastructure security. Case related regional
studies are complemented by presentations of global information systems.
7. Obituary
Benoit Mandelbrot (1924-2010)
Benoit Mandelbrot, who discovered mathematical shapes known as fractals,
died at the age of 85 in Cambridge, USA. Mandelbrot, who had joint French
and US nationality, developed fractals as a mathematical way of
understanding the infinite complexity of nature. The concept has been used
to measure coastlines, clouds and other natural phenomena and had
far-reaching effects in physics, biology and astronomy. The Mandelbrot’s
fractal theory contributed significantly to the development of nonlinear
geophysics, in particular hydrology and geomorphology.
The great interest in fractal and scaling notions has touched almost every
geophysical field. In a general manner, it has been a milestone in the
quest for simplicity defining complexity and as an impressive use of scale
invariance in nonlinear phenomena: complex shapes, which are so common in
geophysics (e.g. clouds, rivers, precipitation and pollution patterns, ice
sheets, etc.), could be created and described by simple rules iterated
over and over again.
The visionary mathematician was born into a Jewish family in Poland but
moved to Paris at the age of 11 to escape the Nazis. He spent most of his
life in the US, working for IBM computers and eventually became a
professor of mathematical science at Yale University. Mandelbrot also held
positions at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Université
Lille Nord de France, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the Centre
National de la Recherche Scientifique.
His seminal works, Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension and The Fractal
Geometry of Nature, were published in 1977 and 1982. In these works, he
argued that seemingly random mathematical shapes in fact followed a
pattern if broken down into a single repeating shape (see the Mandelbrot
set below).
The awards and honours bestowed on Mandelbrot were numerous including a
prestigious National Academy of Sciences fellowship, Wolf, Harvey,
Humboldt, Honda, and Japan Prizes, Barnard, Franklin and Steinmetz Medals.
In 2000 the European Geophysical Society awarded Mandelbrot its Richardson
In a statement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Mandelbrot for
his “powerful, original mind that never shied away from innovation and
battering preconceived ideas”. “His work, which was entirely developed
outside the main research channels, led to a modern information theory,”
he said.
Source: EGU Newsletter 59, p. 36, 1996 & BBC News Europe, 17.10.2010
8. IUGG-related meetings occurring during November 2010 – January 2011
A calendar of meetings of interest to IUGG disciplines (especially those
organized by IUGG Associations) is posted on the IUGG web site
(http://www.IUGG.org/calendar). Specific information about these meetings
can be found there. Individual Associations also list more meetings on
their web sites according to their disciplines.
November 2010
-       30 October – 2 November, IUGG Bureau Meeting (by invitation of the
Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology), Cairo, Egypt.
-       8-10, IASPEI, IUGG, Hanoi, Vietnam, 8th General Assembly of the Asian
Seismological Commission.
-       8-10, IAHS, Hanoi, Vietnam, 5th Conference of the Asia Pacific
Association of Hydrology and Water Resources.
-       11-12, PAIGH, IAG, IUGG, Lima, Peru, Meeting of PAIGH joint with the
General Meeting of the Geocentric Reference System for the Americas
(SIRGAS) and IAG-SIRGAS School “Reference Systems”
-       14-16, IAHS, Kyoto, Japan, Conference “Groundwater as a key for
adaptation to changing climate and society”
-       15-17, IUGG, ECGS, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, International Workshop
on Induced Seismicity.
-       16-18, IUGG, Agra, India, International Workshop on
Seismo-Electromagnetics and Atmospheric Science (IWSE-AS 2010).
-       19-21, IAHS, Nanjing, China, IWRM 2010, 5th International Symposium on
Integrated Water Resources Management: Water Resources Sustainability in a
Changing Environment.
-       23-25, eGYAfrica, Accra, Ghana. Workshop: “Better Internet connectivity
for research and education in Africa”. Contact: victorchukwuma@yahoo.com.
December 2010
13-17, AGU, San Francisco, California, USA, Fall Meeting of the American
Geophysical Union
January 2011
-       8-14, Geological Society of Africa, IUGG, Johannesburg, South Africa,
23rd Colloquium of African Geology
-       17-20, IUGG, Pretoria, South Africa, International Workshop “Extreme
Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk in Africa”
-       22-27, IUGG, Raisan, Gujarat, India, International Symposium “The 2001
Bhuj Earthquake and Advances in Earthquake Science”
-       26-28, IUGG, IAGA, Uglich, Yaroslavl region, Russia, International
Workshop “Artificial Intelligence in the Earth’s Magnetic Field Study”.

End of IUGG Electronic Journal Volume 10 Number 11 (1 November 2010)
A.T. Ismail-Zadeh, Secretary General (http://www.IUGG.org)
E-mail: Alik.Ismail-Zadeh@kit.edu    Fax: +49 721 71173.
Note: Contributions to IUGG E-Journal are welcome from members of the IUGG
family. Please send your contributions to Alik Ismail-Zadeh by e-mail
(insert in Subject line: contribution to E-Journal). The contributions
will be reviewed and may be shortened by the Editor.