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February 2000
Science

AMS awards: Trenberth, Washington, SCD, Meehl

Several NCAR staff took to the stage to accept awards on 12 January at the 80th annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Long Beach, California.

Kevin Trenberth (CGD) received the Jule G. Charney Award "for improving our understanding of the dynamics of the climate system through diagnostic analyses of its fundamental properties." The award, given since 1970, recognizes "highly significant research or development achievement" in the atmospheric or hydrologic sciences. (Past Charney awardees include UCAR president Rick Anthes.) An AMS fellow and head of CGD's Climate Analysis Section, Kevin edited the comprehensive text Climate System Modeling (1992) and has published over 280 scientific articles or papers, including 26 books or book chapters. He was cochair for four years of the International Scientific Steering Group for the World Climate Research Programme's Climate Variability and Predictability program and serves on the WCRP's Joint Scientific Committee.

Warren Washington, head of CGD's Climate Change Research Section, was named the first recipient of the Charles Anderson Award. The honor recognizes Warren's "pioneering efforts as a mentor and [his] passionate support of individuals, educational programs, and outreach initiatives designed to foster a diverse population of atmospheric scientists." The AMS established the award, named after the late University of Wisconsin professor (the first African American to receive a doctorate in atmospheric science), to recognize individuals or organizations for outstanding contributions to the promotion of educational outreach, educational service, and diversity in the atmospheric science community. Warren is a fellow and past president of the AMS and a current appointee to the National Science Board. Among the modeling pioneer's many honors are the 1999 National Weather Service Modernization Award and the Le Verrier Medal of the Meteorological Society of France.

AMS fellow Roy Jenne, SCD's leader of the NCAR-NCEP reanalysis project, accepted a special AMS award to NCAR on behalf of the project. (Photos by Carlye Calvin.)

On behalf of SCD's Data Support Section, Roy Jenne accepted a special AMS award to NCAR for the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis project. The award cites the project for designing and producing the reanalysis of a multidecadal data set, making it physically consistent (despite changes in technology and observation coverage over the years) and opening "substantial new opportunities for climate diagnostics." The project began in 1989, with NCAR's comprehensive archive of atmospheric and surface data forming the core of the data set. The reanalysis covering 1957 to 1996 was completed in October 1997 and extended the following summer to the 1948-97 half century. The data are distributed at little or no cost to researchers through magnetic tape, CD-ROM, and the Internet; large amounts are used by programs on NCAR computers. For a full report on the project, see http://www.ucar.edu/communications/quarterly/spring99/reanalysis.html; more information on the observations used for reanalysis is at ftp://ncardata.ucar.edu/pub/reanalysis/pubs-docs/reanal-obs.pdf.

Jerry Meehl.

Jerry Meehl (CGD) received the AMS Editor's Award for his service on the Journal of Climate. Jerry was cited "for consistently comprehensive, insightful, and constructive reviews on a range of climate issues." The Editor's Award recognizes the efforts of outstanding scientific reviewers to assure the accuracy and lucidity of scientific writing in the society's journals. Jerry has published over 100 scientific articles or papers and been active in the WRCP's Steering Group on Global Climate Modeling and its Working Group on Coupled Models, the National Research Council's Panel on Climate Observing Systems Status, and several other national and international scientific advisory committees.

Extremes: Are better models changing the picture?

In Long Beach, Jerry joined a number of other NCAR scientists in presenting the latest from two major climate initiatives: the U.S. National Assessment and the upcoming 2000 IPCC report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Jerry is a coordinating lead author for the IPCC chapter on projections of climate change, and one of Jerry's talks outlined what climate models are telling us about possible future changes in weather extremes. Some of the model results--such as increased precipitation intensity and reduced daily temperature range--have remained consistent for years and jibe with observations to date. But as model skill increases, there will be new and more reliable information on changes in extremes. For instance, the 1995 IPCC report noted that the "state of the science remains poor" on the risk that global warming could alter hurricane activity. The report concluded "it is not possible to say" whether key tropical cyclone variables (number, intensity, etc.) would change. But according to Jerry, now that mesoscale hurricane models can be successfully coupled with larger-scale models, we have better tools with which to assess such possible changes. New results from one such model for the northwestern tropical Pacific show a shift toward greater tropical cyclone intensity in a world of doubled carbon dioxide, similar to results from another embedded mesoscale model for the Australian region.

"We may be getting to the point where people can use these [modeling] tools in a more effective way than ever before," said Jerry in Long Beach. However, he added, "Even if you see agreement among models, it doesn't mean that's going to happen in the real world." The key, he said, was to look for "physically plausible changes."

Staff Notes Monthly will provide more detail on NCAR's climate assessment work in an upcoming feature story.


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