On 31.12.2023, Prof. Dr Dr h.c. Harald Schuh retired. Subsequently, Prof Dr Maik Thomas was appointed by the GFZ Board of Trustees as the new Director of Department 1 “Geodesy”. Prof Dr Jens Wickert took over the position as Head of Section 1.1 “Space Geodetic Techniques” on an interim basis. Dr Henryk Dobslaw succeeds Maik Thomas as GFZ Director for Topic 2 “Oceans and Cryosphere in Climate Change” of the joint research programme “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future” of all seven Helmholtz Centres of the Helmholtz Research Field “Earth and Environment”, to which the GFZ belongs.
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Prof. Dr Dr hc Harald Schuh retired on 31.12.2023. He had been Director of Department 1 “Geodesy” at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences and Head of Section 1.1 “Space Geodetic Techniques” since 2012. At the same time, he held the professorship for Satellite Geodesy at TU Berlin. Harald Schuh began his scientific career at the University of Bonn. After working as a scientist at the German Aerospace Centre and the Academy Institute DGFI in Munich, he was appointed Professor of Higher Geodesy at the Vienna University of Technology in 2000. He held this position until his move to the GFZ.
His internationally highly regarded research focuses on space geodesy, particularly in the field of VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry), a method of radio astronomy, as well as in the field of GNSS-based satellite positioning (Global Navigation Satellite System), the analysis of the Earth's rotation and the modelling of atmospheric effects in geodesy.
His services to geodetic science and the research community have been honoured many times.
In a colloquium in honour of Harald Schuh, which will take place on 21/22 February 2024 at the GFZ, there will be an opportunity to look back on all these achievements and look to the future of this discipline.
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Prof. Dr Maik Thomas is the new Director of Department 1 “Geodesy”. He succeeds Prof. Dr Dr h.c. Harald Schuh, who retired at the end of 2023. Maik Thomas has been Head of Section 1.3 “Earth System Modelling” at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences since 2007. He has also been a professor at the FU Berlin since 2008 – until 2013 for the subject “Global Dynamic Earth Modelling” and since 2013 for “Modelling Fluid Dynamics in the Earth System”.
Until the end of 2023, Maik Thomas was Director of Topic 2 “Oceans and Cryosphere in Climate Change” of the joint research programme “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future” of all seven Helmholtz Centres in the “Earth and Environment” field, which includes the GFZ. He gives up this position
Maik Thomas studied oceanography and obtained his doctorate in Hamburg in 2001. Before coming to the GFZ, his career path took him to the universities of Bonn, Tübingen and Dresden in the research fields of astronomy, geology, meteorology and geodesy. Maik Thomas' research focuses on geophysical influences on the Earth's gravity field, palaeoclimate and palaeoceanography. He interprets geodetic monitoring data with the help of in-situ data and numerical modelling.
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Prof Dr Jens Wickert has succeeded Harald Schuh as Head (interim) of Section 1.1 “Space Geodetic Techniques” on 1.1.2024. The graduate physicist conducted research at various stations before joining the GFZ in 1999. He received his doctorate in 2002 at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Austria. Since 2016, he has held a joint appointment as Professor of GNSS Remote Sensing, Navigation and Positioning at TU Berlin.
At the GFZ, Jens Wickert is Director for Topic 1 “The Atmosphere in Global Change” of the research programme “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future”. In Section 1.1, he also heads the GNSS Remote Sensing research area with the GNSS Meteorology, GNSS Radio Occultation and GNSS Reflectometry working groups.
His scientific interests lie in the field of satellite geodesy with a focus on GNSS applications for Earth system research – in particular in the field of atmospheric and ionospheric research with studies on climate change and extreme weather events as well as space weather. This also includes the development of GNSS technology and evaluation software and their application under real-time aspects as well as the planning and realisation of satellite missions with GNSS components.
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Dr Henryk Dobslaw took up his position as Director of Topic 2 “Oceans and Cryosphere in Climate Change” on 1 January 2024 – succeeding Prof. Dr Maik Thomas. Dobslaw, who studied geodesy, received his doctorate from TU Dresden in 2007 and has been working as a scientist in Section 1.3 “Earth System Modelling” at the GFZ for 17 years. Since 2012, he has headed the working group “Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Hydrosphere”, now “Dynamics of the Hydosphere”.
Henryk Dobslaw researches mass transport processes in the atmosphere, the oceans and the continental hydrosphere – such as ocean circulation, atmospheric tides and their oceanic response. To this end, he uses numerical simulations and geodetic techniques. One focus is the modelling of the atmospheric-oceanic background for the satellite gravimetry missions GRACE and GRACE-FO and the development of scientific requirements for future satellite gravimetry missions.
Topic 2 is one of nine topics of the research programme “Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future” for the years 2021-2027, to which the seven Helmholtz Centres of the research field “Earth and Environment” have joined forces within the framework of the Helmholtz Association's Programme-Oriented Research (PoF).
In Topic 2 “Oceans and Cryosphere in Climate Change”, the Helmholtz Centres AWI, GEOMAR and GFZ want to clarify how the oceans and cryosphere influence the climate and react to global warming. Among other things, the GFZ is involved in reconstructing past climate conditions, operating geodetic observation systems and analysing their data, and better modelling the Earth system.