GGOS History

The establishment of the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) has been only possible thanks to the strong international cooperation promoted and hosted by the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) for more than fifteen decades. The idea of GGOS was born in the end of the 1990s.

  • 1998

    Birth of GGOS

    The first event, which may be understood as the birth date of GGOS, is the international symposium “Towards an Integrated Global Geodetic Observing System” held in Munich in October 1998 and organized by the former IAG Section II “Advanced Space Technology” and the former IAG Commission VIII “International Coordination of Space Techniques for Geodesy and Geodynamics” (CSTG).

  • 1999

    Developing a New IAG Structure

    At the IAG1999 General Assembly in Birmingham, jointly with the 22th General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), an IAG Review Committee was created to propose a new IAG structure that is in agreement with the innovative geodetic techniques and methods becoming available at that time. Modern Geodesy should be viewed from the global perspective and efforts of all branches of this science should be bundled to serve the same goal. The IAG Review Committee organized a retreat in February 2000, where experts from Geodesy, Earth sciences, government organizations, etc. were invited to develop, together with the Committee, a first draft for the new structure. After a series of meetings and different drafts, the IAG Review Committee prepared a proposal of new IAG Statutes and Bylaws describing the new IAG structure and proposing to establish GGOS as IAG’s first association project. IAG projects are “of a broad scope and of highest interest and importance for the entire field of Geodesy. These projects serve as the flagships of the IAG for a long time period (decade or longer)”. An IAG project is nothing but the focal point of most, if not all, activities of the IAG. This makes evident that GGOS realizes a milestone in the advancement of Geodesy.

  • 2001

    Approving of New IAG Structure

    The proposal with the new IAG structure and GGOS as IAG project was approved by the IAG governing bodies (IAG Council and IAG Executive Committee) at the IAG2001 Scientific Assembly in Budapest. A GGOS Planning Committee was established in the same year and it developed a proposal including definition, vision and mission statements for GGOS, as well as its main objectives, the science rationale, and a first implementation plan.

  • 2003

    Approving of GGOS

    This proposal was accepted by the IAG Executive Committee and the IAG Council at the IAG2003 General Assembly in Sapporo, which was held jointly with the 23th IUGG General Assembly. Indeed, GGOS was endorsed by the IUGG through Resolution No. 3 at the same General Assembly. The GGOS Planning Committee was replaced by a GGOS Implementation Committee at the IAG2005 Scientific Assembly in Cairns.

  • 2007

    GGOS as a Formal IAG Component

    At the IAG2007 General Assembly, jointly with the 24th IUGG General Assembly, in Perugia, the IAG project GGOS became a formal component of IAG being at the same level of the Commissions and the Services in the IAG structure. Since that time, some updates to the organizational structure of GGOS were implemented in order to reflect recent developments and strategic direction.

  • 2009

  • 2009

    Establish GGOS Inter-Agency Committee (GIAC)

    In November 2009, an Intergovernmental Committee for GGOS (ICG) was created to address major issues (specially funding) related to the improvement of the global geodetic infrastructure.

    In 2010, it became the GGOS Inter-Agency Committee (GIAC), which was supported by spatial and national geodetic agencies.

  • 2010

  • 2015

    UN-GGIM Sub-Committee on Geodesy

    With the release of the United Nations’ Resolution on the Global Geodetic Reference Frame (UN-GGRF) for Sustainable Development, adopted at the UN General Assembly on February 26, 2015 and the creation of the Sub-Committee on Geodesy of the UN Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM), the GIAC functions were transferred to the UN Subcommittee on Geodesy and GIAC was discontinued.

  • 2017

    Establish GGOS Affiliates (GGOS Japan)

    As a mechanism to increase participation in GGOS, especially in the under-represented areas of Africa, Asia-Pacific, and South and Central America, a new component of GGOS, known as GGOS Affiliates, was created in 2017. GGOS Japan, formerly known as the GGOS Working Group of Japan, became the first GGOS Affiliate in November 2017.

  • 2018

    Strengthening GGOS External Relations

    GGOS represents the IAG within the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), participates in the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), and has a stake in the United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) Subcommittee on Geodesy. Given the fundamental importance of GGOS participation in these external organizations, the position of Manager of External Relations was created in January 2018.

  • 2021

    Establish GGOS D-A-CH Affiliate

    The national geodetic commissions of Germany (DGK), Austria (ÖGK) and Switzerland (SGK), encompassing the D-A-CH region, joint their efforts in GGOS-related activities and in better exploiting the potential of GGOS in terms of science and infrastructure and established the second GGOS Affiliate called GGOS D-A-CH. Their application was approved by the GGOS Coordinating Board in May 2021.

  • 2023

    Governing Board

    The GGOS Coordinating Board (CB) and the GGOS Consortium were merged into one governing body, the GGOS Governing Board. This step reduced the total number of members of the two old bodies and strengthened the involvement of representatives of the IAG Services, Commissions, ICC, Projects and the GGOS Committees.

History of GGOS Governing Board Members

Since GGOS was established as a own entity within IAG in 2007, the following key positions on the GGOS Giverning Board (or the former GGOS Coordinating Board) have been held by the following individuals.

GGOS Chair / President

Laura Sánchez (Germany)since 2023
Basara Miyahara (Japan)2019-2023
Richard Gross (USA)2017-2019
Hansjörg Kuterer (Germany)2011-2017
Markus Rothacher (Switzerland)2007-2011

GGOS Vice Chair/ Vice President

Anna Riddell (Australia)since 2023
Laura Sánchez (Germany)2019-2023
Ruth Neilan (USA)2010-2019
Hans-Peter Plag (USA)2007-2010

Director of GGOS Coordinating Office

Martin Sehnal (Austria)since 2019
Helmut Titz (Austria)2018-2019
Matthias Madzak (Austria)2017-2018
Günther Stangl (Austria)2016-2017
Allison Craddock (Germany)2015-2016
Giuseppe Bianco (Italy)2010-2015

Manager of External Relations

Allison Craddock (USA)since 2018

Director of Bureau of Networks and Observations

Mike Pearlman (USA)since 2009

Director of Bureau of Networks and Observations

Detlef Angermann (Germany)since 2011
Urs Hugentobler (Germany)2009-2011

Chair of GGOS Science Panel

José Manuel Ferrándiz (Spain)since 2023
Kosuke Heki (Japan)2017-2023
Richard Gross (USA)2007-2017

IAG President (or representative)

Richard Gross (USA)2015-2017, since 2023
Zuheir Altamimi (France)2017-2023
Chris Rizos (Australia)2011-2015

Representatives, GGOS Affiliates

Yusuke Yokota (Japan)since 2023
Toshimichi Otsubo (Japan)2015-2023
Hansjörg Kutterer (Germany)since 2021

Representatives, IAG Services

Riccardo Barzaghi (Italy)since 2015
Daniela Thaller (Germany)2019-2023
Sean Bruinsma (France)2019-2023
Robert Heinkelmann (Germany)2019-2023
Ruth Neilan (USA)2011-2019
Christoph Foerste (Germany)2015-2019
Urs Marti (Germany)2015-2019
Pascal Willis (France)2011-2015
Erricos Pavlis (USA)2011-2015
Thomas Herring (USA)2011-2015

Representatives, IAG ICC’s and Commissions

Tonie Van Dam (Luxembourg)2011-2015, 2019-2023
Adrian Jäggi (Switzerland)2019-2023
Pavel Novák (Czech Republic)2015-2019
Roland Pail (Germany)2015-2019
Srinivas Bettadpur (USA)2011-2015


Claudia Tocho (Argentinia)2021-2027
Aletha de Witt (Sout Africa)2023-2027
Ropesh Goyal (India)2023-2027
Nicholas Brown (Australia)2019-2023
Ludwig Combrinck (Sout Africa)2015-2023
Maria Cristina Pacino (Argentinia)2011-2015, 2019-2021
Luiz Paulo Fortes (Brazilia)2015-2019
Gary Johnston (Australia)2015-2019
Yoichi Fukuda (Japan)2011-2015
Yamin Dang (China)2011-2015

GGOS Focus Areas (former Themes)

Artificial Intelligence for Geodesy (AI4G)
Benedikt Soja (Switzerland)since 2023
Geohazards Monitoring
Timothy Melbourne (USA)since 2023
John LaBrecque (USA)2015-2023
Ioannis D. Doukas (Greece)2011-2015
Tim Dixon (USA)2010-2011
Geodetic Space Weather Research
Michael Schmidt (Germany)since 2017
Global Unified Height System (2010-2023)
Laura Sánchez (Germany)2015-2023
Michael Sideris (Canada)2010-2015
Sea Level Change (2010-2019)
Tilo Schöne (Germany)2011-2019
C.K. Shum (USA)2010-2011