The 2011 Vening Meinesz Medal is awarded to Harald Schuh for his work in the field of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) and his important contribution to space geodetic research.
Harald Schuh has been working in the field of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) modelling and analysis for almost 30 years. He has achieved a deep understanding in the complex dynamics of the Earth’s motion with respect to the distant quasar system and the related processes covering Earth orientation, geophysics and astrophysics. Remarkable is his extensive work in determining Earth rotation, for which application of VLBI is indispensable. Moreover, he used VLBI – recently as president of the IVS (International VLBI Service) – for the realization of a kinematic inertial reference system and has pushed the steady improvement of VLBI measurement technology and analysis. Another example is given by the studies of his group to achieve better VLBI modelling, e.g., of tropospheric effects (“Vienna mapping function”). He investigated the impact of Earth orientation changes on celestial reference frames. This he did by networking with partners in the respective fields in Europe and worldwide. Thus, he has been in close collaboration with a large number of Earth system researchers over many years and has achieved a high international profile for his TU Vienna group. He also took care of the observational side by supporting the VLBI observatories in all countries. In this respect, he has also worked on studies focusing on the scientific potential and realization of future VLBI systems, by foreseeing the use of transponders on satellites or lunar orbiters as well as improving telescopes on Earth. Schuh has published extensively. He is a well-known contributor to the geodesy community and has been member of many international scientific working groups of the IAG (International Association of Geodesy) and of the IAU (International Astronomical Union). He has organized various sessions at international conferences such as EGU. During the EGU general assemblies in Vienna, he has been essentially responsible for high acceptance in the geodetic community, also providing generous support by hosting many splinter meetings at the Technical University of Vienna every year. Following the tradition of Vening-Meinesz, Schuh has always been very eager to integrate international and inter-disciplinary cooperation among scientists. One of his basic principles is to pave the way for young scientists and to provide a platform for scientific exchange. In summary, Harald Schuh is a high profile scientist who has made important contributions to space geodetic science leading to significant progress in this field.