The IUGG Electronic Journal Volume 8 No. 6 (1st June 2008)

Volume 8 No. 6  (1st June 2008)

This short, 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 ( Please forward this message to those who will benefit from the information. Your comments are welcome.


Editorial: Recent natural disasters in China and in Myanmar.

The German Research Foundation's support to the IUGG Secretariat.

IUGG Executive Committee meeting and Conference "Earth Science for Society".

News from the International Council for Science (ICSU).

Free U.S. NAS reports for individuals from less affluent countries.

World Centres of Excellence on Landslide Risk Reduction.

Honors and awards.

IUGG-related meetings occurring during June – August 2008.

1. Editorial: Recent natural disasters in China and in Myanmar

The strong cyclone Nargis caused the deadliest natural disaster in the recorded history of Myanmar. The cyclone made landfall in the country on 2 May causing catastrophic destruction and at least 90,000 fatalities (damage is estimated at over US$ 10 billion). Ten days later, a large earthquake, known now as the M=7.9 Sichuan (Wenchuan) earthquake, hit the central China. Official figures (as of 30 May) state that 68,858 are confirmed dead and 366,586 injured, with 18,618 listed as missing. The earthquake left about 4.8 million people homeless. Dozens of major aftershocks, ranging in magnitude from 4.4 to 6.0, were recorded within 72 hours of the main shock and are still recorded.

Our hearts go out to those in China and in Myanmar who have suffered losses of loved ones and personal property in the geophysical disasters of the past weeks. Dr. Tom Beer (IUGG President) and Dr. Alik Ismail-Zadeh (IUGG Secretary General) expressed their deep condolences for those caught in this tragedy.

The IUGG Commission on Geophysical Risk and Sustainability (GeoRisk Commission) as well as IASPEI and other Union Associations are actively concerned with problems of natural hazards and risks. Below are immediate responses of IUGG experts on the disasters.

Kuni Takeuchi (President, GeoRisk Commission; Japan): "I would like to emphasize the importance of national governments role in early warning and international collaboration in emergency response. I would mention the remarkable reduction of death tolls shown by Bangladesh and China in the latest history. In 1991 Bangladesh storm surge took 140,000 lives and in 2007 some 3,000. In 1931 the Great Yangtze floods in China took over 145,000 lives, and in 1954 about 33,000 and in 1998 about 1,300. Science and society can do the best to reduce the death tolls. In that sense, all natural disasters are to large extent man-made disasters".

Ramesh Singh (Vice-President, GeoRisk Commission; India): "In most recent past so many disasters took place globally, e.g. deadly Cyclone in Maynamar and M7.9 Earthquake in Chengdu, Dust storm in Indo-Gangetic plains and Tornado in USA affecting human life. The biggest problem is that we do not have coordinated effort, and when we face such disasters then only we start bothering …"

Vladimir Kossobokov (Vice-President, GeoRisk Commission; Russia): "Thousands of lives lost are the result of evident failure of traditional Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Assessments … The new more adequate approaches based on pattern recognition, multi-scale analysis, and neo-deterministic seismic hazard modelling that account for fractal nature of earthquake distributions in space and time are available although confronted by traditionalists. We have to revolutionize the situation."

Zhonglian Wu (IASPEI President; China): "The methods and results of the forecast of strong aftershocks are of a great importance now, especially in the regions where landslides and flooding pose a threats".

2. The German Research Foundation's support to the IUGG Secretariat

As a response to the request of the German National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics (NKGG), the German Research Foundation (DFG) awarded the IUGG Secretariat a grant to hire an Assistant Secretary General and to assist with business travel of the Secretary General for the years 2008-2009. The IUGG is very grateful to the NKGG for the support and to the DFG for the sponsorship of the IUGG Secretariat.

3. IUGG Executive Committee meetings and Conference "Earth Science for Society"

The IUGG Executive Committee meeting will be held in Karlsruhe on 5-6 August. The Center on Climate and Environment of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology will be formally established on the occasion of the IUGG Executive Committee meeting. To inaugurate the Center, the Conference "Earth Science for Society" will be held on 4 August and will highlight achievements of German geosciences. The Program of the Conference can be downloaded from the IUGG web-site:  HYPERLINK ""

4. News from the International Council for Science (ICSU)

ICSU Grant Awards

ICSU awarded two proposals supported by IUGG.

The project proposal "Fluid Mechanics and Geophysics of Environmental Hazards" submitted by the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM) has been awarded EUR 30,000. The IUGG Commission on Geophysical Risk and Sustainability will contribute to this project.

The project proposal "Mapping GeoUnions to the ICSU Framework for Sustainable Health and Wellbeing", submitted by the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) and supported by several ICSU GeoUnions including IUG