About DGFI

The DGFI is located in the rooms of the Munich Residence at Odeonsplatz

The Deutsches Geodätisches Forschungsinstitut (DGFI; German Geodetic Research Institute) is an autonomous research institute at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences (BAdW) in Munich. It has been established in 1952 based on a decision of BAdW's German Geodetic Commission (DGK). The DGFI is funded by the Free State of Bavaria and regularly supervised by an international scientific council.

Over more than six decades the institute has performed notable and internationally recognised geodetic basic research, and today the acronym DGFI is well-known in the geoscientific community all over the world. The institute is strongly cross-linked with other institutions and has continuously been involved in various national and international activities. Intensive collaborations exist in particular in the frame of the international scientific organisations IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics), IAU (International Astronomical Union) and IAG (International Association of Geodesy).

DGFI recognises the outstanding role of the IAG services for science and practice, and co-operates in these services as data, analysis and research centres. Scientists of DGFI have taken leading positions and supporting functions in IAG's Commissions, Services, Projects, Working and Study Groups, and in the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS). Furthermore, DGFI staff is prominently involved in the management of international scientific organisations, e.g., in the European Geosciences Union (EGU) and in the International Astronomical Union (IAU). DGFI also participates in research programmes and bodies of the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA). It co-operates in several United Nations' (UN) and intergovernmental institutions and activities.

On national level, DGFI has been a member of the Forschungsgruppe Satellitengeodäsie (FGS) since many years. The FGS is a follow-on co-operation of the former DFG-Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 78, closely affiliated with the Geodetic Observatory Wettzell in the Bavarian Forest. In the frame of FGS, DGFI is co-operating with the TU München (Institut für Astronomische und Physikalische Geodäsie [IAPG], Forschungseinrichtung Satellitengeodäsie [FESG]), the Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie, Frankfurt/Main (BKG) and the Institut für Geodäsie und Geoinformation of the University of Bonn (IGG).

Since the year 2010, DGFI is connected with IAPG, FESG, and the section "Geodesy" of BAdW's Commission for Geodesy and Glaciology (KEG) in the frame of the Centre of Geodetic Earth System Research (CGE).

Since 2011 the institutions of CGE work together according to a joint research and development programme, guided by the vision that geodesy can provide a high-precision, consistent and long-term valid metric for Earth system sciences. Research activities within CGE are coordinated by scientists of the contributing partners. The research and development programme is being realised by scientific collaborations across the institutions and within joint third-party funded projects. Within the first years of its existence, CGE has reached good visibility on national and international level.

DGFI: Geodetic basic research for Earth system science

Through new technological achievements in Earth observation systems, in particular in satellite technology, and in the field of scientific computing geodesy has developed towards an important discipline for Earth system research during the last decades. In the context of global change geosciences are facing new challenges. Large-scale changes in the Earth system come along with implications on environment and living conditions, and catastrophic consequences of natural desasters become more frequent. Research of processes and interactions in the system Earth is of increasing importance. This fundamentally requires reliable observations of changes on various spatial scales over long time-spans. Geodesy contributes to Earth system research in particular by providing highly precise geometrical and physical parameters from terrestrial, air-borne and satellite-based observation systems. Time-series of a variety of geodetic parameters have been determined for many decades. As geodynamic processes and environmental change map into their temporal variations, the analysis of these parameters provides valuable information of long-term changes in the Earth system. The fundamental backbone for referencing the observations and thus for enabling a reliable interpretation over long time-spans is a consistent global and long-term stable reference system.

DGFI possesses unique competence on several geodetic research fields, in particular in the fields of reference frame determination and satellite altimetry. The institute takes a leading position in the realisation of global and regional horizontal and vertical terrestrial reference systems and of the celestial reference system from a combined analysis of various geometrical space-geodetic observing systems.

As ITRS Combination Center the DGFI regularly computes one of worldwide only two solutions for the highly precise International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) that is also the prerequisite for the use of global navigation and positioning systems and surveying. For its realisation IAG requires an accuracy of 1 mm for the positions of worldwide distributed observing stations and 0.1 mm for their linear velocities. This accuracy is necessary in order to detect very small changes in the Earth system (e.g. global mean sea level rise of about 3 mm per year) reliably. In the field of satellite altimetry DGFI computes global and regional variations of the sea-level on different time-scales from all altimetry missions since 1992 and investigates variations of ocean currents. Via its DGFI Open Altimeter Database (OpenADB) the DGFI distributes various altimetry products free of charge. Further prominent research topics of DGFI include theoretical and applied aspects of gravity field determination and ionosphere research.