IAPSO Annual Reports

2020 IAPSO Activities 


IAPSO has the prime goal of 'promoting the study of scientific problems relating to the oceans and the interactions taking place at the sea floor, coastal, and atmospheric boundaries insofar as such research is conducted by the use of mathematics, physics, and chemistry.' IAPSO works mainly through 1) biennial scientific assemblies; 2) working groups; 3) commissions; 4) services and 5) website information. Of special importance to IAPSO is the involvement of scientists and students from developing countries in oceanographic activities.

IAPSO maintains formal liaison with other scientific commissions and committees. These include the ISC's Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), and UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).

For more information see http://iapso.iugg.org/.


The IAPSO Bureau (2019-2023) was renewed in July 2019 during the IUGG General Assembly in Montreal and supplemented by two additional positions by ballot in November 2020. It comprises:

President: Trevor McDougall (Australia)
Past President: Denise Smythe-Wright (UK)
Secretary General: Stefania Sparnocchia (Italy)
Treasurer: Ken Ridgway (Australia)

The Executive Committee comprises the Bureau members and
Vice-Presidents: Agatha de Boer (Sweden)
Hans van Haren (The Netherlands)
Edmo Campos (Brazil)
Juliet Hermes (South Africa)
Rick Lumpkin (USA)
Yukio Masumoto (Japan)
Jae-Hun Park (Republic of Korea)
Alejandra Sanchez-Franks (UK)
Christa von Hildebrandt-Andrade (USA and Puerto Rico)
Peter Zavialov (Russia)

The IAPSO office is located at the Institute of Marine Science of the National Research Council of Italy, Trieste and day-to-day business is managed by Secretary General (SG), Stefania Sparnocchia. The SG is responsible for the IAPSO website. A page on the Facebook social network is also active with the aim of facilitating the spreading of information in the community (see https://www.facebook.com/iapso.iugg.org). 

IAPSO finances are managed by the Australian-based Treasurer, Ken Ridgway.

Change of Statutes and By-Laws
In recent years the IAPSO EC has felt constrained by the number of its members in relation to the ability to include representatives from all areas of the world and also younger scientists. So a change of the IAPSO Statute 8 and By-Law 8 was proposed to the Member delegates to increase the number of the Members at Large of the EC from six to eight, including an early career scientist, whose formal role will be to chair the IAPSO Early Career Scientists Working Group. Change has been voted electronically between 31 August 2020 and 30 November 2020 and approved. In the first instance the two new places have been filled by co-option, approved by the vote of delegates, and Dr. Rick Lumpkin and Dr. Alejandra Sanchez-Franks were appointed as members of the IAPSO Executive Committee until 2023.

Setting up of the new Joint Commission on Ice-Ocean Interactions (JCIOI) with IACS
Following a meeting in Montreal in July 2019, IAPSO and IACS decided to set up this joint commission and work has been done to establish it during 2020. The Commission was formally established in January 2021.
JCIOI aims to address knowledge gaps, by globally coordinating and engaging in research and development related to understanding, observing and modeling ice-ocean interactions. This will include research under ice shelves, at the ice-ocean front in tidewater glaciers, and at the sea surface in the marginal ice zone. JCIOI will develop ties with international working groups to exchange knowledge and engage with the wider ice-ocean research community. Key activities will include development of a framework to reconcile numerical model estimates of ocean-driven ice mass loss with observations, to engage with groups developing broad-scale observational networks in Antarctica and Greenland, and to facilitate improvement of the representation of ice-ocean interactions in numerical models.
The Joint Commission is co-chaired by Dr Felicity McCormack (IAPSO) and Dr Isabel Nias (IACS).


2021 Assembly/IACS, IAMAS, IAPSO, Online Seminar Series
IAPSO has been actively organizing the IACS-IAMAS-IAPSO Joint Assembly in Busan, South Korea, 18-
23, July 2021, but in early June 2020, in a Zoom meeting held between the Local Organizing Committe and the Presidents and Secretary Generals of IAPSO, IAMAS and IACS, we decided to cancel this in-person joint assembly, due to the COVID-induced uncertainty surrounding international travel. The Assembly will be replaced by a joint Online Seminar Series to be held from 19-23 July 2021. SGs of the three Associations worked during 2020 to organize this event, whose scientific program will be announced in the first quarter of 2021.

IAPSO Best Practice Study Groups
IAPSO has begun to fund IAPSO Best Practice Study Groups to address an issue whose resolution will assist in the conduct of oceanographic research. In January 2020 we chose the first two such IAPSO Best Practise Study Groups (out of nine quality applications). The groups activities had to pace with the pandemic, but some progress are described below.

  • IAPSO Best Practice Study Group to identify approaches to be recommended for seawater pH measurement. A small number of members met at San Diego Ocean Sciences meeting in February and discussed the proposal and how to proceed.

IAPSO Medals
Despite the cancellation of the Joint Assembly in 2021, IAPSO has decided to continue the activity of awarding its medals. Calls for the Albert I medal and ECS medals for 2021 were issued in 2020. The results of the respective evaluation processes, currently underway, will be announced in the first quarter of 2021.

SCOR Administration
IAPSO has maintained its formal relations with SCOR during the year. The EC members were involved in the evaluation of the 2020 Working Group proposals and the President, Trevor McDougall attended the 2020 SCOR Annual Meeting. Arising out of the October 2020 Annual SCOR meeting, three new SCOR Working Groups are to be funded: ATOMIX, REMO and OASIS, each of which has substantial physical oceanographic emphases, and in the case of REMO, substantial chemical oceanography emphasis.

IUGG/IAPSO support to scientific meetings
IAPSO endorsed three scientific meetings that were supported by IUGG in 2020:

  • The Workshop on Sea Level Data Archaeology was held from 10 to 12 March 2020 in Paris, France. The workshop was convened under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and its Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS), and co-sponsored by the IHO Tides, Water Level and Currents Working Group (TWCWG) and the IUGG/IAPSO. The main objective was to bring together experts concerned with sea level data rescue activities to explore the potential for a more sustained programmatic approach to cooperation at the international level. Sessional topics included: Historical sea level data inventories and data at risk; Methodology for transfer of paper records to digital data; Auxiliary historical archives relative to sea level; Applications and knowledge products from recovered data; Cooperation perspectives. More than fifty participants attended the workshop at UNESCO headquarter in Paris between 10 - 12 March 2020. One scientist from Senegal benefited from IUGG funds to attend the workshop. A full workshop report can be downloaded here (http://legacy.ioc-unesco.org/index.php?option=com_oe&task=viewDocumentRecord&docID=26751).
  • The Symposium on Tsunamis in Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Developments and Plans for the Future, Quito, Ecuador. Originally scheduled for 3-5 August 2020, it is postponed to a date to be defined.


IAPSO Early Career Scientist Working Group
The IAPSO Early Career Scientist (ECS) Working Group is a group that was established in 2018 with the aims of representing and building a network for all those that identify as early career scientists in physical or chemical sciences of the oceans. The aims of the group are to advocate diversity, equity and inclusion through promoting the use of gender pronouns at major conferences and active participation in programs that support these values; connect with other early career scientist networks; provide a point of contact between the ECS network and the IAPSO executive committee; organise ECS events at biannual IAPSO assemblies. The group is chaired by Alejandra Sanchez-Franks (United Kingdom), co-chaired by Malin Ödalen (Sweden), and includes 7 members from diverse international background (https://www.iapsoecs.org/aboutus/).
In 2020, the IAPSO ECS Working Group organized and submitted a review of the Second Order Draft of the Working Group I (WG1) contribution to the sixth IPCC Assessment Report, provided a review for the UN Decade of the Ocean Implementation Plan Zero draft, and participated in the planning of the upcoming IAPSO 2021 virtual assembly. The IAPSO ECS website (https://www.iapsoecs.org) continues to provide weekly updates on job opportunities, fieldwork, ECS-related events, as well as quarterly newsletters. The IAPSO ECS network has now over 160 Members signed up to the mailing list, and over 300 followers on social media.

Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL)
The Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) is the internationally recognised global data bank for long-term sea level data and also provides a wider Service to the sea level community. The PSMSL was established in 1933 by Joseph Proudman who became its first Secretary. Since then, the PSMSL continues to be responsible for the collection, publication, analysis and interpretation of sea level data. It is hosted by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) with funding provided by the UK Natural Environment Research Council. PSMSL reports to several bodies which operate under the auspices of the International Science Council (ISC).
In 2020 the PSMSL maintained its general activities of adding data to our databank (790 stations updated), responding to requests from the public, tide gauge operators and policy makers) and updating and improving our website.
We helped organise the GLOSS/IHO/IUGG/IAPSO Sea Level Data Archaeology Workshop, held in March 2020 (meeting report - https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000373327). Following a recommendation to explore a pilot project using the Zooniverse Citizen Science platform, we developed the UK Tides project (https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/psmsl/uk-tides).
PSMSL contributed to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Manual "Quality Control of in situ Sea Level Observations: a Review and Progress towards Automated Quality Control, Vol. 1.", published in June 2020.
PSMSL data were used in the nature article "The causes of sea-level rise since 1900", (Frederikse et al, 2020). Peter Hogarth (National Oceanography Centre) rescued historical data to increase the data available to help identify key processes driving sea level change. 

 IAPSO Standard Seawater Service
The IAPSO Standard Sea-Water Service is the only internationally recognized standard for the calibration of salinity measurement devices. Its widespread use over 100 years of IAPSO history has been of great importance to the quality and comparability of salinity data worldwide. Since 1989 IAPSO has established an agreement with the Ocean Scientific International Limited (OSIL) for the production and supply of ampoules of standard sea-water to the oceanographic community thorough this IAPSO service.
The demand for IAPSO standard sea water remains strong and OSIL have continued to invest heavily in the upkeep and replacement of the equipment necessary to operate and produce the standards. The Service is currently contributing to groups globally involved with the S.I. traceability relating to density. Significant steps have been made towards producing a density standard in terms of the stability of the sea water inside a unique coated bottle.

The following activities are scheduled for 2021 and beyond:

  • IACS, IAMAS, IAPSO, Online Seminar Series, 19-23 July 2021.
  • Symposium on Tsunamis in Latin America and the Caribbean: Recent Developments and Plans for the Future, Quito, Ecuador, rescheduled (date to be defined)