American Geophysical Union

American Geophysical Union

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The American Geophysical Union (or AGU) is a nonprofit organization of geophysicists, consisting of over 50,000 members from over 135 countries. AGU's activities are focused on the organization and dissemination of scientific information in the interdisciplinary and international field of geophysics. The geophysical sciences involve four fundamental areas: atmospheric and ocean sciences; solid-Earth sciences; hydrologic sciences; and space sciences.

History


The AGU was established in 1919 by the National Research Council
United States National Research Council
The National Research Council of the USA is the working arm of the United States National Academies, carrying out most of the studies done in their names.The National Academies include:* National Academy of Sciences...

 and for more than 50 years operated as an unincorporated affiliate of the National Academy of Sciences
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

. In 1972 AGU was incorporated in the District of Columbia and membership was opened to scientists and students worldwide.

Mission


The mission of the AGU is
  • to promote the scientific study of Earth
    Earth
    Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

     and its environment in space
    Space
    Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

     and to disseminate the results to the public,
  • to promote cooperation among scientific organizations involved in geophysics
    Geophysics
    Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

     and related disciplines,
  • to initiate and participate in geophysical research programs,
  • to advance the various geophysical disciplines through scientific discussion, publication, and dissemination of information.

Publications


AGU is the publisher of several scientific periodicals, including the weekly Eos
Eos (journal)
Eos, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, is a weekly newspaper of geophysics that carries refereed articles on current research and on the relationship of geophysics to social and political questions, news, book reviews, AGU journal and meeting...

newspaper and eighteen peer-reviewed
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 research journals, most notably the Journal of Geophysical Research
Journal of Geophysical Research
The Journal of Geophysical Research is a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Geophysical Union 80 times per year. It contains original research on the physical, chemical, and biological processes that contribute to the understanding of the Earth, Sun, and solar system...

and Geophysical Research Letters
Geophysical Research Letters
Geophysical Research Letters is a semi-monthly peer reviewed scientific journal published by the American Geophysical Union that was established in 1974...

. Many of the journals have high impact factors, with Paleoceanography
Paleoceanography
Paleoceanography is the study of the history of the oceans in the geologic past with regard to circulation, chemistry, biology, geology and patterns of sedimentation.- Source of information :...

 having the highest within paleontology
Paleontology
Paleontology "old, ancient", ὄν, ὀντ- "being, creature", and λόγος "speech, thought") is the study of prehistoric life. It includes the study of fossils to determine organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments...

 and Reviews of Geophysics
Reviews of Geophysics
Reviews of Geophysics is a quarterly peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Geophysical Union. The current editor-in-chief is Mark B. Moldwin . Although it has a continuous publishing history, it had a different title between 1970 and 1984 .-History:Reviews of Geophysics was...

 the second highest within geochemistry
Geochemistry
The field of geochemistry involves study of the chemical composition of the Earth and other planets, chemical processes and reactions that govern the composition of rocks, water, and soils, and the cycles of matter and energy that transport the Earth's chemical components in time and space, and...

 and geophysics
Geophysics
Geophysics is the physics of the Earth and its environment in space; also the study of the Earth using quantitative physical methods. The term geophysics sometimes refers only to the geological applications: Earth's shape; its gravitational and magnetic fields; its internal structure and...

 as of 2010.

Fellowship


AGU nominates members for fellowship in the society. According to the AGU website "To be elected a Fellow of AGU is a special tribute for those who have made exceptional scientific contributions. Nominated Fellows must have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences. This designation is conferred upon not more than 0.1% of all AGU members in any given year. New Fellows are chosen by a Committee of Fellows."

AGU Medals

  • William Bowie Medal
    William Bowie Medal
    The William Bowie Medal is awarded annually by the American Geophysical Union for 'outstanding contributions to fundamental geophysics and for unselfish cooperation in research"...

     for "outstanding contributions to fundamental geophysics and for unselfish cooperation in research"
  • Walter H. Bucher Medal “for original contributions to the basic knowledge of the crust and lithosphere”
  • Maurice Ewing Medal
    Maurice Ewing Medal
    The Maurice Ewing Medal is awarded by the American Geophysical Union for "significant original contributions to the understanding of physical, geophysical, and geological processes in the ocean; to those who advance oceanographic engineering, technology, and instrumentation; and to those who...

     “for significant original contributions to the scientific understanding of the processes in the ocean; for the advancement of oceanographic engineering, technology, and instrumentation; and for outstanding service to the marine sciences”
  • John Adam Fleming Medal “for original research and technical leadership in geomagnetism, atmospheric electricity, aeronomy, space physics, and related sciences”
  • Harry H. Hess Medal “for outstanding achievements in research of the constitution and evolution of Earth and other planets”
  • Robert E. Horton Medal
    Robert E. Horton Medal
    The Robert E. Horton Medal is given out by the American Geophysical Union to recognize "outstanding contributions to the geophysical aspects of hydrology". The award was created in 1974 and named after Robert E. Horton to honor his contributions to the study of the hydrologic cycle. The Horton...

     “for outstanding contributions to hydrology”
  • Inge Lehmann Medal
    Inge Lehmann Medal
    The Inge Lehmann Medal is given out by the American Geophysical Union to recognize "outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth's mantle and core". The award was created in 1997 and named after Inge Lehmann...

     “for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the structure, composition, and dynamics of the Earth’s mantle and core”
  • James B. Macelwane Medal
    James B. Macelwane Medal
    A medal awarded annually by the American Geophysical Union "to be awarded annually for significant contributions by outstanding young scientists." It is named after James B. Macelwane, a Jesuit priest and one of the pioneers of seismology...

     "to be awarded annually for significant contributions by outstanding young scientists"
  • Roger Revelle Medal
    Roger Revelle Medal
    The Roger Revelle Medal is given out annually by the American Geophysical Union to recognize "outstanding accomplishments or contributions toward the understanding of the Earth’s atmospheric processes, including its dynamics, chemistry, and radiation; and toward the role of the atmosphere,...

     “for outstanding contributions in atmospheric sciences, atmosphere-ocean coupling, atmosphere-land coupling, biogeochemical cycles, climate, or related aspects of the Earth system”
  • Waldo E. Smith Medal
    Waldo E. Smith Medal
    The Waldo E. Smith Medal is given out by the American Geophysical Union to recognize "individuals who have played unique leadership roles in such diverse areas as scientific associations, education, legislation, research, public understanding of science, management, and philanthropy, and whose...

     to recognize "individuals who have played unique leadership roles in such diverse areas as scientific associations, education, legislation, research, public understanding of science, management, and philanthropy, and whose accomplishments have greatly strengthened and helped advance the geophysical sciences".
  • Charles A. Whitten Medal
    Charles A. Whitten Medal
    The Charles A. Whitten Medal was established by the American Geophysical Union to honor Charles A. Whitten for his contributions to research in crustal movements. This medal, which was first awarded to Charles A. Whitten, recognizes outstanding achievement in research on the form and dynamics of...

      “for outstanding achievement in research on the form and dynamics of the Earth and planets”

AGU Awards

  • Robert C. Cowen Award "for a journalist or a group that has made significant, lasting, and consistent contributions to accurate reporting or writing on the geophysical sciences for the general public.
  • Excellence in Geophysical Education Award  “to acknowledge a sustained commitment to excellence in geophysical education by a team, individual, or group. To educators who have had a major impact on geophysical education at any level (kindergarten through postgraduate), who have been outstanding teachers and trainers for a number of years, or who have made a long-lasting, positive impact on geophysical education through professional service.”
  • Charles S. Falkenberg Award to an individual “scientist under 45 years of age who has contributed to the quality of life, economic opportunities, and stewardship of the planet through the use of Earth science information and to the public awareness of the importance of understanding our planet”
  • Edward A. Flinn III Award to an “individual who personifies the Union’s motto ‘unselfish cooperation in research’ through their facilitating, coordinating, and implementing activities”
  • International Award “to recognize an individual scientist or a small team for making an outstanding contribution to furthering the Earth and space sciences and using science for the benefit of society in less favored nations”
  • David Perlman Award "for excellence in researching and reporting a news story that meets one or more of the following criteria: brings new information or concepts about AGU sciences to the public's attention, identifies and corrects misconceptions about AGU sciences, or makes AGU sciences accessible and interesting to general audiences, without sacrificing accuracy"
  • Athelstan Spilhaus Award “for enhancement of the public understanding of Earth and space science”

Sections and Focus Groups


The AGU is divided into 11 sections that provide the main structure for managing volunteers, developing leaders and honoring scientists. These sections also reflect the breadth of science within geophysics:
  • Atmospheric sciences
    Atmospheric sciences
    Atmospheric sciences is an umbrella term for the study of the atmosphere, its processes, the effects other systems have on the atmosphere, and the effects of the atmosphere on these other systems. Meteorology includes atmospheric chemistry and atmospheric physics with a major focus on weather...

  • Biogeosciences
  • Geodesy
    Geodesy
    Geodesy , also named geodetics, a branch of earth sciences, is the scientific discipline that deals with the measurement and representation of the Earth, including its gravitational field, in a three-dimensional time-varying space. Geodesists also study geodynamical phenomena such as crustal...

  • Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism
    Paleomagnetism
    Paleomagnetism is the study of the record of the Earth's magnetic field in rocks. Certain minerals in rocks lock-in a record of the direction and intensity of the magnetic field when they form. This record provides information on the past behavior of Earth's magnetic field and the past location of...

  • Hydrology
    Hydrology
    Hydrology is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability...

  • Ocean Sciences
    Ocean science
    Ocean science can refer to*Oceanography*Ocean science, an open access scientific publication of the European Geosciences Union...

  • Planetary Sciences
    Planetary science
    Planetary science is the scientific study of planets , moons, and planetary systems, in particular those of the Solar System and the processes that form them. It studies objects ranging in size from micrometeoroids to gas giants, aiming to determine their composition, dynamics, formation,...

  • Seismology
    Seismology
    Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake effects, such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic,...

  • Space Physics
    Space physics
    Space physics, also known as space plasma physics, is the study of plasmas as they occur naturally in the universe. As such, it encompasses a far-ranging number of topics, including the sun, solar wind, planetary magnetospheres and ionospheres, auroras, cosmic rays, and synchrotron radiation...

     and Aeronomy
  • Tectonophysics
    Tectonophysics
    Tectonophysics, a branch of geophysics, is the study of the physical processes that underlie tectonic deformation. The field encompasses the spatial patterns of stress, strain, and differing rheologies in the lithosphere and asthenosphere of the Earth; and the relationships between these patterns...

  • Volcanology
    Volcanology
    Volcanology is the study of volcanoes, lava, magma, and related geological, geophysical and geochemical phenomena. The term volcanology is derived from the Latin word vulcan. Vulcan was the ancient Roman god of fire....

    , Geochemistry
    Geochemistry
    The field of geochemistry involves study of the chemical composition of the Earth and other planets, chemical processes and reactions that govern the composition of rocks, water, and soils, and the cycles of matter and energy that transport the Earth's chemical components in time and space, and...

    , and Petrology
    Petrology
    Petrology is the branch of geology that studies rocks, and the conditions in which rocks form....



There are also focus groups that organize research involving two or more sections. These are
  • Atmospheric and Space Electricity
  • Cryosphere
    Cryosphere
    The cryosphere is the term which collectively describes the portions of the Earth’s surface where water is in solid form, including sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow cover, glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets, and frozen ground . Thus there is a wide overlap with the hydrosphere...

     Sciences
  • Earth and Planetary Surface Processes
  • Earth and Space Science Informatics
  • Mineral
    Mineral physics
    Mineral physics is the science of materials that compose the interior of planets, particularly the Earth. It overlaps with petrophysics, which focuses on whole-rock properties...

     and Rock Physics
  • Global Environmental Change
  • Natural Hazards
    Natural hazard
    A natural hazard is a threat of a naturally occurring event that will have a negative effect on people or the environment. Many natural hazards are interrelated, e.g. earthquakes can cause tsunamis and drought can lead directly to famine. It is possible that some natural hazards are...

  • Near Surface Geophysics
  • Nonlinear Geophysics
    Mathematical geophysics
    Mathematical geophysics is concerned with developing mathematical methods for use in geophysics. As such, it has application in many fields in geophysics, particularly geodynamics and seismology.- Geophysical fluid dynamics :...

  • Paleoceanography
    Paleoceanography
    Paleoceanography is the study of the history of the oceans in the geologic past with regard to circulation, chemistry, biology, geology and patterns of sedimentation.- Source of information :...

     and Paleoclimatology
    Paleoclimatology
    Paleoclimatology is the study of changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of Earth. It uses a variety of proxy methods from the Earth and life sciences to obtain data previously preserved within rocks, sediments, ice sheets, tree rings, corals, shells and microfossils; it then...

  • Study of the Earth's Deep Interior

Meetings


AGU holds an annual meeting in San Francisco every December (known as the Fall meeting), the largest annual scientific conference in the world (with more than 18,000 attendees in 2010), and a joint assembly co-sponsored with other societies such as the Geochemical Society
Geochemical Society
The Geochemical Society is a nonprofit and international scientific society for the purpose of encouraging the application of chemistry to solve problems involving geology and cosmology...

, the Mineralogical Society of America
Mineralogical Society of America
The Mineralogical Society of America is a scientific membership organization. MSA was founded in 1919 for the advancement of mineralogy, crystallography, geochemistry, and petrology, and promotion of their uses in other sciences, industry, and the arts...

, the Canadian Geophysical Union
Canadian Geophysical Union
The Canadian Geophysical Union/Union géophysique canadienne began as a society dedicated to the scientific study of the solid earth and has evolved into one that is concerned with all aspects of the physical study of Earth and its space environment, including the Sun and solar system...

, and the European Geosciences Union
European Geosciences Union
The European Geosciences Union is an interdisciplinary non-profit learned society open to individuals who are professionally engaged in or associated with geosciences, planetary and space sciences, and related studies.The mission statement of the EGU is "Dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in...

 every Spring (April through May) in various locations throughout the world. The latter grew out of AGU's annual Spring meeting, which had, for many years, been held in Baltimore, until declining interest caused AGU to move the meeting in different locations, starting with Boston in 1998. With the meeting in Nice, France, in 2003, it became known as the Joint Assembly. In addition to these meetings, which cover all areas of the geophysical sciences, AGU also sponsors many specialized meetings that are intended to serve the needs of particular scientific disciplines or geographical areas, including the Ocean Sciences Meetings and Western Pacific Geophysical Meetings which are held in even numbered years. Small, highly focused meetings are offered through the Chapman Conferences.

Position statements


On occasion the AGU Council issues position statements on matters affecting public policy that are related to geophysics. These include biological evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, natural hazards, science education
Science education
Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individuals may be children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education comprises...

 and funding, and climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. The AGU issued a position statement on climate change in December 2003, and revised and reaffirmed the statement in 2007. The revised statement begins:


See also

  • Geological Society of America
    Geological Society of America
    The Geological Society of America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of the geosciences. The society was founded in New York in 1888 by Alexander Winchell, John J. Stevenson, Charles H. Hitchcock, John R. Proctor and Edward Orton and has been headquartered at 3300 Penrose...

  • List of geoscience organizations
  • Scientific opinion on climate change
    Scientific opinion on climate change
    The predominant scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth is in an ongoing phase of global warming primarily caused by an enhanced greenhouse effect due to the anthropogenic release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases...


External links