Geophysical challenges of the 21st century

Geophysical challenges of the 21st century

An international scientific meeting

Geophysical Challenges of the 21st Century

 was held on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Geophysical Institute in Zagreb
on 2 December 2011 in the Rectorate of the University of Zagreb


The audience was greeted by the President of the Republic of Croatia, Prof. Ivo Josipović, under whose auspices the meeting was organized, the President of the World Meteorological Organization, Mr. David Grimes, the Director of the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service and the President of the Europe Regional Association of the World Meteorological Organization, Mr. Ivan Čačić, the Vice-rector of the University, Prof. Bojan Baletić, the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Prof. Amir Hamzić, and the Head of the Department of Geophysics, Prof. Zvjezdana Bencetić Klaić. They have congratulated the staff of the Geophysical Institute on the 150 years of continuous uninterrupted measurements, and on their contribution to establishing and development of all geophysical disciplines in Croatia. They have also stressed the role that geophysical studies play in the world of today, which faces problems ranging from the change in climate to ever increasing risks related to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods and other natural disasters. The meeting was attended also by guests from Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, and Slovenia.

Historical development of the Geophysical Institute (which is today a part of the Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Science) since its establishment on 1 December 1861, has been described in a monograph 'Nulla dies sine observatione – 150 years of the Geophysical Institute in Zagreb', which was presented by Prof. Mirko Orlić. The book also illustrates development of all the disciplines nourished at the Institute, presents biographies of all scientific and educational staff since 1861, lists all our students, and presents the complete bibliography of Institute members.

In the second part, four invited renown geophysicists gave talks on the challenges facing their respective fields of research in the near future. Dr. Paolo Papale from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Pisa talked about recent achievements and challenges in volcanology, stressing the importance of global interdisciplinary research efforts which are needed to improve our understanding of the processes causing a volcanic eruption, and may lead towards reliable probabilistic eruption forecasts. The lecture of Dr. Philip L. Woodworth from the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory in Liverpool was about the measurements and possibilities of long-term predictions of mean and extreme sea levels. Prof. Peter Suhadolc from the Trieste University spoke about the grand challenges in seismology which include improvement of estimation of details of ground motion during earthquakes, better understanding of mechanics and intricacies of the process of faulting and the stress-strain relation in the lithosphere, evolution of tectonic plates or interactions of the hydrosphere and the atmosphere with the solid Earth. In the final presentation, Dr. Tim Palmer from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading addressed the problem of reliable climate prediction under the concept of the probabilistic Earth-system simulator. All speakers agreed on the need of considerably increase of the density of measurements. The conditio sine qua non of the future geophysical studies is clearly the interdisciplinary research and overcoming of the boundaries of individual disciplines, as it became clear that signals and influences from other parts of the Earth system cannot be neglected in neither of the geophysical research areas.

The poster section hosted 38 posters presenting recent results by mostly Croatian geophysicists.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of Zagreb, the Faculty of Science, the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports.