Professor Georg Kaser, Dean of the Faculty of Geo and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Innsbruck, was this month awarded the Cross of Honour for Science and Art First Class – Austria's highest honour for people working in science or the arts.
An expert on alpine and tropical glaciology, Professor Georg Kaser was this month granted Austria's prestigious Cross of Honour for his exceptional scientific achievements. Kaser began his career by studying geo and atmospheric sciences at the University of Innsbruck, and participating on a glaciological research project within the framework of the UNESCO programme International Hydrological Decade –
the first worldwide programme of studies of the hydrological cycle.
His passion for mountains combined with alpine skills enabled him to gain extraordinary experience in alpine research, and soon after completing his studies he began to develop and lead independent projects with a teaching and research character. These projects soon made Kaser one of the leading experts in alpine and tropical glaciology. His scientific commitment has not been limited purely to research, however. He has also made a name for himself on various international committees for the further development of science, in particular the cryospheric sciences and glaciology.
"Today we honor a world-leading expert in this field, and thank him for his outstanding contribution to the University of Innsbruck," said Professor Tilmann Märk,
Rector at the University of Innsbruck, during his opening speech at the award ceremony.
Kaser was instrumental in founding the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS), one of the associations of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), and was elected its founding president in 2007. In this role, Kaser was instrumental in addressing and systematising aspects of the cryosphere, and thereby the most climate-relevant large ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic, in the context of global climate change and regional water availability. His extensive research in this area resulted in him being appointed lead author of the cryosphere chapters for the 4th and 5th IPCC Assessment Reports. For the IPCC's 5th Assessment Report, Kaser was also a member of the editorial team for the Summary for Policymakers, a task that required careful collaboration and communication between scientists and policymakers.
Since 2011, Kaser has been a member of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) Board
, representing geosciences, and from 2013 to 2016 he was a member of the Senate of the University of Innsbruck. Since then he has been Dean of the Faculty of Geo and Atmospheric Sciences, and in 2017 was also appointed Deputy Head of the University of Innsbruck's Research Focus 'Alpine Space - Human and the Environment.'
In addition, in 2017 Kaser was accepted as a member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
"In addition to his extensive national and international activities, his involvement within the university must also be highlighted. Besides being an excellent researcher, Georg Kaser is also an excellent teacher," said Professor Bernhard Fügenschuh, Vice Rector for Lehre und Studierende at the award ceremony.
Upon accepting the award, Kaser said, "I am very honoured –
and not only happy about the award, but also about the journey to this point, on which I was accompanied by my family, my friends, and my great colleagues. A big thank you to them and to the university, which has allowed me a lot of freedom and has always supported me. At the same time as expressing my thanks, I would also like to express the wish that the university continues to contribute to achieving the desired climate goals, including the training of excellent students who can continue to work intensively on implementation."
This story was translated from the original German article first published on the University of Innsbruck website. Pictured above: Professor Tilmann Märk, Rector at the University of Innsbruck (left), awards Professor Georg Kaser (right) the Cross of Honour. Image source: University of Innsbruck
Pictured below: the city of Innsbruck in Austria.