In March 2014 we began a consultation exercise concerning the name of the section.
See the Membership Survey just completed and the letter of rationale that the Executive Committee wrote in advance of the survey:
Reorienting our section name for the 21st century: GPE
Our section has great diversity within its ranks: we study processes occurring in the deepest part of the Earth’s core via surface phenomena and atmospheric physics out to solar system planets; we work on fundamental and applied science, on both micro and macro scales, and on timescales stretching from the age of the Earth to sub-second frequencies. This amazing range of topics is to be commended.
Our name at the moment reflects two major components of our activities. Some would argue that our current title is perhaps already imprecise since some of our members work on planetary magnetism; nothing is perfect in life. But there is an even more significant problem, in that the section title does not really properly represent a very active and significant portion of our membership, namely those working in electromagnetism per se. The community that uses electromagnetic methods for sub-surface investigation is a vigorous sub-discipline, as evinced by their very full program at recent AGU meetings. The name “Geomagnetism” does not really represent their interests.
As one of the smallest sections of AGU, we have, at times, struggled to remain influential within AGU. The current Executive Committee would like to do everything possible to maintain or even strengthen our numbers.
Colleagues working within induction, magnetotellurics, controlled source electromagnetism, and other allied disciplines are increasingly valued in today’s society and have seen an increase in numbers, but have sometimes chosen to align themselves with sections such as Tectonophysics or similar. It would be beneficial if we could provide them with a natural home within a section whose name is representative of their interests. The Executive Committee believes strongly that their natural home is our section, particularly because their intellectual and experimental expertise lies at the heart of the corpus of our membership.
Just as Louis Agricola’s original journal Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity changed its name in 1948 to the Journal of Geophysical Research that we have today, some things can benefit from being brought up to date. For this reason, the Executive Committee is endorsing a change in the name of our section to GPE, or Geomagnetism, Paleomagnetism, and Electromagnetism, to properly represent our membership. The third part of our title would draw strongly on the origins of our subject with Faraday, Maxwell and even Louis Agricola himself.
The bylaws of AGU state that such a change is a matter for the Executive Committee, but we would not be so presumptuous as to take such action without consulting the membership. A critical part of this exercise is the discussion and feedback of the members. We have already gauged member reaction through discussions at the GP business meeting this past 10th of December at AGU. While the support at the meeting was not unanimous, it appeared that there was a strong consensus for the name change. This consensus included many past and present elected leaders of the GP section. We now are investigating a method for broader feedback from the GP section this year, about which you will be fully informed.
In closing, the Executive Committee believes that this simple move would be of overall benefit to the future relevance of our section within AGU. The new name would summarize well the activities of our members, and we commend it to you.
Andrew Jackson, Richard G. Gordon and the Executive Committee.