Obituary | Richard Biancale

Richard Biancale (photo: C. Förste, GFZ).

On 4 February, GFZ scientist Richard Biancale died after a heart attack at the age of 66 years during a skiing holiday. Biancale came to GFZ in September 2018, where he worked for section Global Geomonitoring and Gravity Field at the Oberpfaffenhofen branch office on the data evaluation for the satellite missions GRACE and GRACE-FO.

After graduating from the Paris College of Civil Engineering in 1975, Richard Biancale earned a master's degree in oceanography in 1977 and a PhD in astronomy from the Pierre and Marie Curie University of Paris in 1978, where he completed his habilitation in 2006. While engaged as an assistant at the Technical University of Munich, he worked with Christoph Reigber, the former director of GFZ Department Geodesy. After staying at the Astronomical Observatory in Sao Paulo, the German Geodetic Research Institute in Munich, the National Center for Space Research CNES in Toulouse, and NASA, he became head of the Department of Earth and Planetary Geodesy at CNES in 1992 and head of the Geodesy Service in 2005, before joining GFZ last year.

In addition to his work at the CNES, inter alia, Richard Biancale temporarily headed the International Gravimetric Bureau of the International Association of Geodesy IAG and was Chairman of the Geodesy Department of the French National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics. His research focus has always been space geodesy. For more than 20 years, he has taught at various engineering schools and universities and has supervised numerous doctoral theses. Richard Biancale already worked for the satellite missions CHAMP and GRACE as a visiting scientist at GFZ from 2001 to 2002. He remained an active member of the European science team of GRACE and its successor, GRACE-FO, ever since.

Frank Flechtner, Head of GFZ section Global Monitoring and Gravity Field: "We will miss Richard as an excellent scientist, brilliant manager, sympathetic colleague, and good friend. Our thoughts are with his wife and four children".

Reinhard Hüttl, GFZ’s Scientific Executive Director: "On behalf of the entire GFZ, I would like to extend my sincere condolences to his family, colleagues, and friends." (ak)

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