23 April 2008

Professor Tscherning receives European medal

Carl Christian Tscherning, Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen has been awarded the Vening Meinesz Medal by the European Geosciences Union. He has received the medal for his important scientific work in geodesy.

Geodesy is the study of the Earth’s form and its gravitational field. The force of gravity over the Earth’s surface varies due to differences in the subsurface – the more mass, the greater the force of gravity. Using the Earth’s gravitational field one can answer questions within climate research and it is important in the exploration of oil and other resources in the subsurface.

But gravity is very complicated to calculate. One needs to combine the position with gravity’s force and its direction (the force of gravity on a mountain side fx. does point straight down but diagonally inwards towards the mountains mass) and these measurements must be combined to obtain an exact measurement of the force of gravity in an area.

Previously, one had to wander around in pathless terrain and make scattered point measurements. But Carl Christian Tscherning developed theoretical models that through a computer programme can combine measurements from satellites and data from the Earth to map the gravitational field. The pioneering work is a breakthrough in the exploration of the Earth’s gravitational field.