2012 Balzan Prize for Solid Earth Sciences, with Emphasis on Interdisciplinary Research
Kurt Lambeck was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands, in 1941 and has been an Australian citizen since 1956. He studied for his undergraduate degree at the University of New South Wales, Australia and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Oxford. He has worked as a geodesist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and at Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA, and has also held positions at the “Observatoire de Paris”, “Departement des Sciences de la Terre”, University of Paris VII and at the “Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris”. From 1977 to 2007 he held the position of Professor of Geophysics at the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University, where he is now Emeritus Professor. Kurt Lambeck, throughout his scientific career, has tackled fundamental questions concerning our planet, using both theoretical and observational approaches. In the early part of his career he studied the Earth’s gravity field and his results transformed previous views of terrestrial gravity, the global shape of the Earth and its internal structure. He also studied the causes of fluctuations in the Earth’s rotation on different time scales, and the structure and dynamics of the oceanic and continental lithosphere. Another field where he has had an extraordinary impact is the relationship between sea level change, Earth rebound and ice volumes. In particular he has studied the history of the last glacial cycle and how it affected sea level change, ice cap evolution and the response of the viscous mantle. His results revolutionized concepts in the geosciences crucial to our understanding of the solid Earth. Kurt Lambeck’s work has always combined observations from different disciplines, such as geodesy, geology, geophysics, oceanography and paleoclimatology, which makes him a truly multidisciplinary thinker. He has influenced research in many areas of the Earth sciences. Kurt Lambeck has also written numerous works that are essential texts for students and researchers interested in global geodynamics.