Pierre Hubert

Secretary General of IAHS 2000 – 2011, the irreplaceably valuable supporter of the transition of ICSI/IAHS into IACS has passed away on December 31, 2020

Pierre Hubert (photo credit Gaël Hubert)

The following text by Gerry Jones briefly recounts some of the significant events which took place during the period 1998-2007 when Pierre Hubert became involved in the project of obtaining Association status for the Cryospheric Sciences (IACS). Prior to 2007 the cryospheric sciences were represented by ICSI (International Commission of Snow and Ice), a commission of IAHS (International Association of Hydrological Sciences).

Pierre and I were close friends for almost fifty years having met in Québec in the early 1970’s. During the late 80’s and 90’s we both became members of IUGG, having different roles in Associations and Commissions, I in ICSI; Pierre in IAHS where he was the Secretary General for many years. I discussed with Pierre the situation concerning our desire to see the cryospheric sciences achieve the status of an Association within the IUGG, Pierre said he would come to a ICSI meeting at Maastricht to see how we proposed to proceed.

The meeting at Maastricht, Belgium, which took place on the 18th of July 2001, was the event which started the project on the road to success. I outlined the progress of the project to date and, after discussion with members of the bureau, Pierre said that our proposal was valid having gathered strong support among researchers in the cryospheric sciences but, at that time, less than satisfactory support amongst other Associations and IAHS. He then stated that he would inform the IAHS Bureau on the progress of the proposal and of the support shown by prominent members of the cryospheric sciences. At the end of the meeting, Elizabeth Morris the President of ICSI gave me the mandate to pursue the project.

Pierre, as Secretary General of IAHS, started to develop the arguments for association status, and how it would affect IAHS. For at that time counter arguments to association status for ICSI were being made. On one hand some researchers considered that ice was simply a phase change of water, while others considered the physical characteristics of ice, snow, glaciers and permafrost were geologically more akin to rock structures. On the other hand, some believed that the apprehended diminution of the financial resources and the restructuring and reassignment of human resources by the addition of a new Association would negatively affect IUGG.

As these debates continued, the ICSI project proposal was being refined with the aid of research colleagues Roger Barry and Georg Kaser, while Pierre kept me generally informed of the reaction of IAHS and other associations. Finally, through the efforts of Pierre and the numerous presentations of the ICSI proposal to IUGG, shown in the following, the project came to fruition in 2007.

Of note are:
• Sapporo, July 8th 2003, to the IUGG Bureau; this was the first time the first version of the project was presented.
• Colorado, Sept 1st 2004, to the IUGG Executive Committee; where a ´straw’ vote of 12 yes with 2 abstentions first showed the reaction of IUGG to the proposal, and the formation of an interim Commission of Cryospheric Sciences (UCCS) as an Union Commission.
• Perugia 2007 (on the scientific program for Perugia 2011) ICSI/UCCS became a fully-fledged Association of IUGG. The vote was 35 for, 3 against, 2 abstentions.

The support of Pierre was the key that opened the minds of many to the advantages of IACS as a new association in the IUGG family. The long haul was over!

In retrospect, Pierre was a remarkable man with a large vision of the evolution of science and that of the interaction of science with society and culture. His wisdom served him well in his approach to the decisions he made during his professional career.
We had many a debate over the future development of science, technology and artificial intelligence for stimulating our minds and even more enjoyable was the food and wine for the necessities of our stomachs and souls.

Je lui lève mon verre. Il nous manque

Salut Pierre!

H. Gerald (Gerry) Jones, the last President of ICSI before its transition towards IACS