[LEAPSECS] Fwd: IERS Message No. 233: The Role of the IERS in the Leap Second

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Fri Jul 12 08:57:11 EDT 2013


The direct link is:


Presumably all parties will welcome the IERS improving its products:

> Future considerations


> In recognition of rapidly changing technology, the IERS recently held a retreat in order to better position the IERS to meet the emerging needs of its users. As part of this retreat, the IERS agreed to create new products, utilizing more modern data file formats that should improve usability of the IERS data. In addition, the IERS will investigate the possibility of creating a real-time EOP transfer protocol. This latter product would provide UT1 directly to users that currently choose to approximate UT1 using UTC. It would have the advantage of maintaining the same simplicity of implementation that users currently enjoy while increasing the accuracy of the data by more than four orders of magnitude at no cost to the user. The IERS is prepared to meet any future requirements of users by the most convenient means.

And presumably all parties will welcome a schedule to pin down the precise meaning of "future". It seems a general rule that infrastructure should be deployed and tested before being required operationally.

However, "whether the current definition of UTC is retained or whether UTC is redefined to eliminate leap seconds" are not the only two positions on the issues. For instance, such improvements would equally well support the 2003 Torino consensus of creating and disseminating a new time scale, "International Time". Among other things, this would permit the current definition of UTC to be retained for backwards compatibility, mitigating many risks.

Also users (and their customers) didn't just happen to "choose to approximate UT1 using UTC", rather this choice was made for them. UTC was created for this purpose: "GMT may be regarded as the general equivalent of UT." The family of Universal Time is a spectrum of solar time scales.

The ITU should create different time scales absent the long established sobriquet of "Universal Time" for any newly conceived non-solar radio-communications purpose(s) – or perhaps consider disseminating a TAI(ITU) directly. The most efficient and least risky solution is to focus incrementally on improving support for current time scales.

Many thanks to the IERS for seeking to quiet the confusion that the ITU-R has brought to civil timekeeping.


Begin forwarded message:

> From: <central_bureau at iers.org>

> Subject: IERS Message No. 233: The Role of the IERS in the Leap Second

> Date: July 11, 2013 11:20:09 PM MST

> To: <messages at iers.org>


> ************************************************************************

> IERS Message No. 233 July 12, 2013

> ************************************************************************



> The Role of the IERS in the Leap Second



> An article by Brian Luzum, Chair of IERS Directing Board, on "The Role

> of the IERS in the Leap Second", will be published in the ITU News

> Magazine. A preview version of this article is now available at


> http://www.iers.org/biblio



> The summary reads:


> The IERS has served the international scientific community and

> operationally oriented efforts through its service for more than

> twenty-five years. This includes providing Earth orientation

> information, algorithms and software to utilize EOPs, and leap second

> notifications to the world. With recent efforts, the IERS has positioned

> itself to more completely serve the needs of its users whether the

> current definition of UTC is retained or whether UTC is redefined to

> eliminate leap seconds. Either way, the ITU can rely on the IERS to

> support its users with the data and software needed.


> Kind regards,

> IERS Central Bureau



> ************************************************************************

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> and is not responsible for its content.

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