Awards presented at the Spring Annual Meeting: Fifteenth Presentation James B. Macelwane Award to Kurt Lambeck in rEcognition of Significant Contributions to the Geophysical Sciences by a Young Scientist of Outstanding Ability


  • Bill Kaula,

  • Kurt Lambeck


Geodesy, the study of the earth's shape, gravity field. and orientation. is the oldest of the geophysical sciences. Such antiquity sometimes connotes sterility. Hence it is a special pleasure to extol someone who has developed significant new comprehension of the earth from geodetic studies.

Kurt Lambeck is truly a ‘dynamic’ geodesist. in that he has for several years devoted his attention to temporal changes: either in the measurement technique, as in his analyses of artificial satellite orbits; or in the implications of the results, as in his accounting for gravity anomalies by models of floor spreading; or in the observed natural processes themselves, as in his examinations of the variations of the earth's rotation. By his power of mathematical analysis, his persistence in coping with complex and varied data, and his physical insights he has solved several problems with long histories of frustration. Thus Kurt Lambeck has been the first to show that the short-term (annual and less) variations in the earth's rotation are closely coupled to atmospheric changes-; that the rate of deceleration in the moon's orbit is closely accounted for by dissipation in the oceans; that the long-term perturbations of satellite orbits are appreciably affected by ocean tides; that the decade-scale rotational variations are correlated with climatic changes in a phasing suggestive of solid earth effects on climate; and so on.