A hydrologist’s retrospective of the Prague IUGG General Assembly

by Genevieve Ali


I had the great pleasure of attending my very first International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) General Assembly in Prague, Czech Republic, from June 22nd to July 2nd, 2015. While I had heard of IUGG before, I had never considered attending any of their scientific meetings until I became one of the two national representatives of the Canadian National Committee (CNC) of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS). The IUGG is the umbrella union for eight associations and therefore welcomes hydrologists as well as meteorologists, geomagnetism and aeronomy specialists, seismologists, volcanologists, cryospheric scientists, oceanographers and geodesists. With several thousands of attendees – around 4500 in Prague – IUGG assemblies are big but remain inclusive of all disciplines and promote cross-disciplinary discussions, thus providing young – and older – geophysical scientists with fantastic opportunities to broaden their horizons.

My experience at the 2015 IUGG assembly was as a hydrologist and a member of IAHS. IUGG general assemblies take place every four years while IAHS general assemblies take place two years after IUGG assemblies. This past IUGG General Assembly in Prague was unlike most conferences I have attended in my (short) career so far, so I thought I would report on the top eight reasons why young – and older – hydrologists should consider attending future IAHS and IUGG meetings:

  1. Discover a new city or a new country every two years.
  2. Showcase your work in a truly international setting.
  3. Learn from very high-profile interdisciplinary scientists (e.g., Nobel Prize winners) via Union lectures.
  4. Get involved in international research by actively participating in IAHS science decades such as the Panta Rhei initiative (2013-2022) on Change in Hydrology and Society.
  5. Share best practices and discuss the role of Hydrology for Society by attending roundtables between representatives of national hydrological associations from around the World.
  6. Interact – and partner up – with hydrologists from a range of developing countries.
  7. Understand how your research can help frame international environmental policies by interacting with people from UNESCO, UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
  8. Exchange with young scientists in specialized forums organized for that sole purpose.

The next IAHS general assembly will take place in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in July 2017 while the next IUGG general assembly is coming to Montreal, Quebec in July 2019. Mark your calendars: IAHS and IUGG look forward to seeing you in both venues.