Established in 1919, the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans (IAPSO) is one of eight Associations of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), which in turn is a member of the International Science Council (ISC). Funding for ISC, its Unions and Associations, comes from member Countries and their representative national Agencies. Those Countries which adhere to the Statutes and By-Laws of IUGG are Members of IAPSO.
IAPSO has the prime goal of "promoting the study of scientific problems relating to the oceans and the interactions taking places at the sea floor, coastal, and atmospheric boundaries insofar as such research is conducted by the use of mathematics, physics, and chemistry." IAPSO has addressed this goal through four fundamental objectives:
These four objectives are carried out mainly through the efforts of the IAPSO Bureau (President, Past President, Secretary General and Treasurer) and the work of IAPSO’s Commissions with advice and oversight by the IAPSO Executive Committee. As the result of these efforts, IAPSO has organized and sponsored the only continuous international forums open to physical and chemical oceanographers around the world.
IAPSO maintains formal liaison with other scientific commissions and committees. These include the ISC's Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
An important part of the co-operation with SCOR is the formation of joint working groups.
The authority of IAPSO is vested in member Countries and exercised collectively by their delegates while meeting during the General Assembly. The President, two Vice Presidents, Secretary General, Treasurer and Executive Committee members are elected. Over the years, many internationally distinguished scientists have occupied, and continue to occupy, these offices.
To promote the study of the oceans and the interactions that take place at its boundaries with the sea floor, coastal environment and atmosphere, through the use of physics, chemistry, mathematics and biogeochemisty.
IAPSO gives importance to involving scientists and students from developing countries in oceanographic activities.