Prime Minister’s Prize for Science 2018 goes to ‘Earth-watcher’ Kurt Lambeck

Professor Kurt Lambeck has won the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

The award recognises Lambeck’s 50-year contribution to Australian and global science through his research “watching” planet Earth – it’s a specialist field known as geodesy.

His work enables more accurate guidance of satellites and space missions, helps track changes in sea levels over time, and facilitates detailed understanding of the deep structure of Earth.

Lambeck’s research also underpins the GPS technology on which we rely for accurate navigation.

“The Earth is remarkable. It has this wonderful record of its history going back to almost its very beginning. Almost everywhere you look, you learn something new about what’s been going on in our planet,” Lambeck said.

Not a simple sphere

Seen from a distance and by average measurement, Earth is a sphere. But in reality our planet is quite lumpy, and its form changes over time. Lambeck’s work has been vital in monitoring Earth’s contours, and seeing how they influence human activities.

This can help scientists understand where stress may be building up in Earth’s crust due to deformation – which can help identify regions at higher risk of earthquakes and natural hazards.

It also factors in how melting and freezing of water changes the appearance and physical behaviours of Earth.

For the full article and information on other winners, please visit The Conversation.