The 2nd ETC Medal Award

The ETC steering committee decided to award the ETC Medal 2000 to the late Prof. H.- G. Wenzel for his outstanding contribution to international cooperation in earth tide research (May 2000).

Following is in Memoriam Hans-Georg Wenzel;
Reprinted from the IAG Newsletter (March 2000, 74/02) edited by Ole Baltazar Andersen.


Im Memoriam Hans-Georg Wenzel (1945 - 1999)

The geodetic community lost an outstandig scientist: completely unexpected Hans-Georg Wenzel died on 11 November 1999.

Hans-Georg Wenzel was born on 3 February 1945, in Hahnenklee/Harz, Germany. His professional education included the training for a technican in surveying (1962 - 1964), and studies of surveying engineering (School of Technology Essen, 1964 - 1967) and Geodesy (Technical University Hannover, 1968 - 1972), both finished with „summa cum laude".

He then entered the Institut für Theoretische Geodäsie (today Institut für Erdmessung) of the University of Hannover, and worked there from 1972 - 1988, as scientific assistent, chief engineer and senior scientist. At this young institut, Hans-Georg Wenzel could fully display his high qualification and deep knowledge. With great enthusiasm and admirable efficiency, he engaged himself in teaching and research, and became a driving element at most of the institut‘s research projects in physical geodesy and gravimetry. He received the Doktor-Ingenieur degree with a thesis on the accuracy of gravimetric earth tides observations (1976), and his Dr.-Ing. habil. thesis dealt with high resolution spherical harmonic models for the gravitational potential of the earth (1985). These fundamental publications and many other papers on earth tides research, relative and absolute gravimetry, instrumental developments, spectral analysis of the gravity field, geoid determination (a first gravimetric geoid for Europe was presented in 1983), and network adjustment showed his solid theoretical background and his abilities at the aquisition and processing of large different type data sets, as well as his capacity to develop new methods for data evaluation and modelling.

In 1988 Hans-Georg Wenzel became Professor at the Geodetic Instiute, University of Karlsruhe, and Director of the Schiltach Geodynamical Observatory. His research now concentrated on the analysis of earth tide measurements, including the determination of the pole tides and the nearly diurnal free wobble. Amoung the results of this period we find a new tidal potential catalogue, a world wide synthetic gravity tides model, and the earth tides data processing package ETERNA. In the last year, a remarkable step forward to the next generation of global gravity field models was done, with the development of the ultra high-degree (1800, 1800) geopotential models GPM 98. All together more than 150 papers, many of them presented on international meetings, document the scientific productivity of Hans-Georg Wenzel over more than a quarter of a century.

It was only natural, that IAG early recognized H.-G. Wenzels talents, and incorporated him into the world wide IAG network. He chaired the special study group „Global Gravity Field Approximation" (1987 - 1991) and the International Gravity Commission working group „Computation of Mean Gravity Anomalies" (1989 - 1991). He served as Secretary (1987 - 1991) and President (1991 - 1995) of Section 3 „Gravity Field Determination" and as President of the Earth Tides Commission (1995 - 1999). His management abilities were acknowledged in the Directing Board of the Bureau Gravimetrique International (1987 - 1995), and as Secretary of the Federation of the Astronomical and Geophysical Data and Analysis Services FAGS, since 1996.

In 1999 Hans-Georg Wenzel accepted a call from the University of Hannover, to become Professor for Physical Geodesy at the Institut für Erdmessung, and thus to return to his previous sphere of activity, as the successor of his former teacher, colleague and friend, who has the sad duty to write this obituary. Hans-Georg was the ideal person to take over this chair, with the expectation to further develop well-established research areas, and to build up new branches. With great energy he started work on the 1st of March 1999, and at many discussions with him I again admired his clear thinking, his energy and his visions on the challenges and the development of physical geodesy and the future of the Institute.

Without any recognizable warning Hans-Georg Wenzel left us far too early. We shall miss him and we mourne with his wife Marion and his daughter Christine. His exellent scientific work will remain, as well as the manyfold personal reminescences of a kind colleague and a good friend.

Wolfgang Torge, Hannover

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