Nerem Receives 2006 Geodesy Section Award

R. Steven Nerem received the Geodesy Section Award at the 2006 AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. The award is given in recognition of major advances in geodesy.


nerem_stevenSteve Nerem has been at the forefront of geodetic and oceanographic research since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, in 1989. He is currently professor of aerospace engineering sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Fellow of the Colorado Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. He also serves as associate director of the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research.

Steve is a specialist in satellite geodesy and its applications to solid Earth physics, ocean dynamics, and related climate sciences. His work covers almost all areas of satellite geodesy: satellite orbit determination, satellite remote sensing, geodetic techniques (laser ranging, GPS, Doris, altimetry, GRACE), gravity field determination, vertical crustal motions, geocenter motion, timevariable gravity and application to Earth mass redistribution, ocean dynamics, ocean topography, and sea level change. He has also applied space techniques to measuring the gravity fields of Mars and Venus. Because these topics are interdisciplinary from the point of view of Earth sciences, Steve has become involved in a variety of disciplines.

A recent contribution of Steve’s is his work on global mean sea level variations using satellite altimetry and tide gauges as well as the climatic causes of the observed change. Steve has published a series of basic papers on this topic. Determination of global mean sea level rise by satellite altimetry is now considered extremely robust, a necessary condition to detect any influence of global warming on the changing mean sea level. He has also contributed to the interpretation of data from the GRACE Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment mission, especially for detecting ocean mass change and its contribution to global mean sea level.

Steve actively serves the geodetic community in several aspects. Inside the American Geophysical Union, he was secretary of the Geodesy Section from 2002 to 2004, and is a former associate editor of JGR and Eos. He also gave the Bowie Lecture at the 2005 AGU Fall Meeting.

To summarize, Steve Nerem has made impressively creative and enduring contributions to many areas of satellite geodesy and is very deserving of this award. I thank Anne Cazenave for her letter strongly supporting Steve’s nomination.

George Born, University of Colorado, Boulder.


I would first like to thank everyone who helped nominate me for this award. I feel very fortunate to have chosen satellite geodesy as my field of research; over the years it has taken me into many different areas of Earth and planetary science. It was the positive influences in graduate school that led me down this path—Byron Tapley, Bob Schutz, George Born, John Ries, George Rosborough, and C. K. Shum, among others. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where Dave Smith, Chet Koblinsky, Steve Klosko, Jim Marsh, and many others helped get my career off to a great start, collaborations that continue today. My academic career, first at the University of Texas and then at the University of Colorado, would not have been possible without the great experience I had at NASA. I have benefited from working with many collaborators over the years, but I would especially like to thank Eric Leuliette, Gary Mitchum, and Don Chambers for their ‘unselfish cooperation in research.’ I’d like to thank my graduate students for teaching me as much as I have taught them. Finally, I’d like to thank the many close friends I have made over the years working in this field; you really make me look forward to going to all those meetings! One of the most rewarding experiences of my career has been my involvement in the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason satellite missions—it has been exciting both scientifically and culturally, a real model for how joint missions between two countries should be done. My sabbatical in France was a direct result of these collaborations, and I’d like to thank my many friends in Toulouse for a rewarding experience.

Satellite geodesy is arguably the most multidisciplinary field in geophysics; it is the ‘glue’ that ties different fields together to help solve important problems affecting different components of the Earth system. I believe satellite geodetic measurements are going to become one of our most important tools in the next decade for figuring out how the Earth is changing and why, and I am truly grateful to be working during this exciting time in our field.

R. Steven Nerem, University of Colorado, Boulder.