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Bert Bolin Global Environmental Change Award and Lecture

Information on the Award and Lecture

The Bert Bolin Award and Lecture is presented annually and recognizes ground breaking research or leadership in global environmental change through cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and trans-disciplinary research in the past 10 years. It is named to honor the work and life of Bert Rickard Johannes Bolin, a Swedish meteorologist who served as the first chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The winner of the Bert Bolin Award gives the Bert Bolin Lecture each year.

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Award Benefits

AGU is proud to recognize our section honorees. Recipients of the Bert Bolin Award will receive the following benefits with the honor:

  • 1

    Award and lecture certificate

  • 2

    Recognition in Eos

  • 3

    Recognition at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year

  • 4

    Invitation to present the Bert Bolin Lecture at the AGU Fall Meeting during the award presentation year

  • 5

    Complimentary ticket to the Global Environmental Change dinner at the Fall Meeting during the award presentation year

Eligibility

To better understand eligibility for nominators, supporters and committee members, review AGU’s Honors Conflict of Interest Policy.

  • The nominee is required to be an active AGU member.
  • The nominee must be a member of the Global Environmental Change section.
  • The nominee should be a middle career or senior scientist. It should be more than 10 years since they received their Ph.D. or highest terminal degree on the first day of the year in which the award is presented. Exceptions to this requirement for unusual circumstances may be considered on a case-by-case basis by the committee.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be candidates for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Bert Bolin Lecture Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff

  • Nominators are not required to hold an active AGU membership.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be nominators for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Bert Bolin Lecture Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff.

  • Individuals who write letters of support for the nominee are not required to be active AGU members.
  • The following individuals are not eligible to be supporters for the award during their terms of service:
    • AGU President;
    • AGU President-elect;
    • Council Leadership Team members;
    • Honors and Recognition Committee members;
    • Bert Bolin Lecture Committee Committee members; and
    • All full-time AGU staff.

The following relationships need to be identified and communicated to the Award Committee but will not disqualify individuals from participating in the nomination or committee review process. These apply to committee members, nominators, and supporters:

  • Current dean, departmental chair, supervisor, supervisee, laboratory director, an individual with whom one has a current business or financial relationship (e.g., business partner, employer, employee);
  • Research collaborator or co-author within the last three years; and/or
  • An individual working at the same institution or having accepted a position at the same institution.

Individuals with the following relationships are disqualified from participating in the award nomination process as a nominator or supporter:

  • Family member, spouse, or partner.
  • A previous graduate (Master’s or Ph.D.) and/or postdoctoral advisor, or postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated.
  • A former doctoral or graduate student, or a former postdoctoral fellow may not write a nomination letter for a former advisor but may write a supporting letter after five years of terminating their relationship with the nominee beginning on 1 January after the year the relationship was terminated.

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Nomination Package

Watch our tutorial on successfully submitting a nomination package or read our guide. Your nomination package must contain all of the following files and be no more than two pages in length per document.

  • A nomination letter that states how the nominee meets the selection criteria and demonstrates the potential to be elected as an AGU Fellow in the future. The letter should include details about outstanding contributions in research, educational, or societal impacts in the area of global environmental change. Nominator’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information are required and letterhead is preferred.
  • A curriculum vitae for the nominee.
  • Two to three letters of support. Supporter’s signature, name, title, institution, and contact information are required. Letterhead is preferred.
  • We encourage letters from individuals not currently or recently associated with the candidate’s institution of graduate education or employment.
  • A selected bibliography stating the total number, the types of publications and the number published by AGU.
  • Up to three copies of the nominee's published or preprint manuscripts that illustrate the quality of the nominee’s work.

Submission Process

Submissions are reviewed by the Global Environmental Change Award Committee. Nominations should be submitted online.

Submit
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Recipients

Lecture Title:

Revisiting the IPCC’s “Discernible Human Influence” Finding: History and Lessons Learned

 

Field Photo:

Benjamin Santer Field Photo

L. Ruby Leung has been selected as the 2019 Bert Bolin awardee and lecturer of the AGU Global Environmental Change section. She received the award and presented this lecture at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes an Earth scientist for “groundbreaking research and/or leadership in global environmental change through cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research in the past 10 years.”

 

Citation

Dr. Lai-Yung (Ruby) Leung has been a real force advancing the science and modeling frontiers of environmental change. She is an influential researcher and an outstanding community leader. She has pioneered modeling of regional and global climate change using innovative approaches to represent such fine-scale processes as orographic precipitation and mountain snowpack and to integrate natural and human system processes in Earth system models. Using models and observations, her research has advanced understanding of the water cycle and its interactions with anthropogenic forcings. She has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advancing community research in extreme weather and climate through field campaigns, data analysis, and modeling of such phenomena as atmospheric rivers, mesoscale convective systems, tropical cyclones, extreme precipitation, and floods and droughts. In addition to organizing workshops for U.S. climate agencies to identify gaps and priorities in climate and hydrological research, she has been serving as the chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). This activity pushes the cutting edge of high-resolution climate modeling and develops unique capabilities to represent human–Earth system interactions. In sum, she exemplifies the spirit of Bolin’s legacy by advancing both science and modeling to address environmental change problems of high societal impacts.

—Rong Fu, University of California, Los Angeles

Response

It is an honor for me to be selected for the Bert Bolin Award and Lecture of the AGU Global Environmental Change section. I am grateful for the nomination and for the committee’s selecting me for the award. I have been fascinated by water for its life-supporting function, the beauty it creates in our environment, and its mysterious ways in connecting the various parts of the Earth system. Hence, water weaves through my journey as a scientist from modeling orographic clouds and precipitation and snowpack in mountainous areas, to collecting data from a research aircraft flying through atmospheric rivers, to modeling storms and land and river processes, to exploring the mechanisms of how precipitation may respond to warming and other human perturbations. I have been blessed with many opportunities to collaborate with wonderful colleagues in my institution and scientists across the community sharing the same passion about water in its various forms in the Earth system. I thank them for being an inspiration and for sharing their ideas and expertise. I am also grateful to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research program for its foresight and continued support of cutting-edge Earth system research and its user facilities enabling the research. Through national and international efforts, we now have an explosion of data from different observing systems and computational models capable of simulating clouds in their glorious details or connecting human and Earth system processes, providing data and tools to test our understanding and predict Earth system evolution. Continued advances in understanding and predicting regional and global environmental change will equip us with powerful knowledge to improve societal resilience to extremes and variability and change.

—L. Ruby Leung, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash.

Donald J. Wuebbles has been selected as the 2018 Bert Bolin awardee and lecturer of the AGU Global Environmental Change section. He will receive the award and present this lecture at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2018, to be held 10–14 December in Washington, D. C. The award recognizes an Earth scientist for “groundbreaking research and/or leadership in global environmental change through cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research in the past 10 years.”

 

Citation

Donald Wuebbles’s research contributions would be notable based solely on his foundational efforts in atmospheric chemistry, including important work on the ozone hole. But his research has been remarkably wide ranging and influential, advancing our knowledge about many key aspects of global environmental change, including severe weather, climate extremes, high-resolution modeling of the climate system, national security, and risk management issues associated with climate change. His leadership of environmental assessments has been extensive at the regional, national, and international levels. For the 2014 Third National Climate Assessment and the 2017 Climate Science Special Report, his singular leadership influence on the development of those products was one of the key reasons for the quality and balance of these influential assessments. His body of work reflects his deep commitment to solving the core environmental challenges of our age.

—Kenneth Kunkel, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Response

It is quite an honor for me to receive the 2018 Bert Bolin Global Environmental Change Award from AGU. Prof. Bert Bolin was a person I have held in high esteem and one who has had a significant impact on my life. As a young scientist in the 1970s and 1980s, when I was primarily using models to study atmospheric chemistry, both for stratospheric ozone and for air quality, I was very impressed with Dr. Bolin’s pioneering work in atmospheric chemistry and biogeochemistry and in the understanding of the carbon cycle. After playing a central role in the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. Bolin was named the first IPCC chair, and a few months later I was somehow asked to be a coordinating lead author on the IPCC First National Climate Assessment report, the first major international attempt to bring together top scientists from around the world to assess the understanding of climate change and its impacts on our home, planet Earth; for that assessment, I co-led chapter 2 on the radiative forcing of climate change. It was then that I first got to meet Dr. Bolin. He was also the IPCC chair during the Second National Climate Assessment report, when I once again was a coordinating lead author. These assessments set the stage for the many assessments of climate science and climate change that have occurred since, both global and more regional. So for me, this is a very extensive recognition. I greatly appreciate the efforts of Ken Kunkel and the others who nominated me for this award in honor of Bert Bolin.

—Donald J. Wuebbles, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

David Neelin has been selected as the 2017 Bert Bolin awardee and lecturer of the American Geophysical Union’s Global Environmental Change focus group. He will receive the award and present this lecture at the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes an Earth scientist for “groundbreaking research or/and leadership in global environmental change through cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research in the past 10 years.”

 

Citation

Dr. Neelin’s research spans a number of subfields on climate processes that are germane to global environmental change. He has made groundbreaking contributions to understanding tropical climate dynamics and the impact of anthropogenic forcing on precipitation, drying, circulation, and extremes. It is noteworthy that he has developed concepts to effectively explain his results to the general public. His work has produced key contributions to understanding how small-scale moist convection interacts with large-scale motions to produce dramatically different moist dynamics. With originality and deep insights, his work on tropical atmospheric dynamics and tropical climate interactions has advanced our understanding of dynamics and predictability of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation phenomenon and tropical intraseasonal variability as well as a better understanding of the moist dynamical feedback and the vegetation–climate feedback that affect the response of precipitation to global warming. Recently, he and his colleagues have undertaken a combination of observational work, melding tools from statistical physics and moist thermodynamics with recent large satellite and in situ data sets, along with theoretical approaches to understand the relationships among fast timescale fluctuations. Together these address the critical need to better constrain parameterizations used in climate models in a manner that includes variations that yield extreme events. Dr. Neelin’s groundbreaking research in global environmental change stems from his mixture of cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches to addressing complex and critical issues.

—Fei-Fei Jin, University of Hawaii, Manoa

Response

I am grateful to the AGU Global Environmental Change focus group for selecting me as the second recipient of the Bert Bolin Award. In a field where many have contributed, I view this choice as a recognition of the close connections among the diverse aspects of studying the global climate system. Our understanding of natural climate variability such as El Niño–Southern Oscillation, of fundamentals of mechanisms connecting cloud-scale processes to global climate, and of how the interwoven parts of the climate system change under anthropogenic influence all form part of an inseparable continuum. It has been a delight to have the opportunity to work with many across these areas, and to see methods that we had initiated for one purpose picked up and used by the next generation for unanticipated applications. Thanks are due numerous colleagues but particularly Isaac Held, George Philander, Mark Cane, and Kerry Emanuel for early and ongoing mentorship; Michael Ghil, Jim McWilliams, and all my wonderful colleagues at UCLA; and Fei-Fei Jin for nominating me. I hope that I have passed on some of the joy of piecing together the fascinating workings of our Earth system to my own grad students and postdocs. I have also greatly enjoyed interactions with hundreds of undergraduates across multiple science disciplines that I’ve had the opportunity to introduce to climate science. I hope I have communicated to them an appreciation of the full breadth of this field, from the natural workings of the system to the anthropogenic changes that we are part of. With understanding of these quantitative science tools, I’ve been encouraged by the levelheaded sense of urgency students come to in carrying them into societal application.

—J. David Neelin, University of California, Los Angeles

Alan K. Betts is the first recipient of the Bert Bolin Award/Lecture of the American Geophysical Union’s Global Environmental Change focus group. He will receive the award and present this lecture at the 2016 AGU Fall Meeting, to be held 12–16 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes an Earth scientist “for his/her ground-breaking research or/and leadership in global environmental change through cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research in the past 10 years.”

 

Citation

Alan Betts’s research “has been transformative by providing a new understanding of one of the fundamental climate processes—land-atmospheric coupling and how it varies from the diurnal to monthly time scale, with land cover, and how it may vary under environmental change. His environmental change leadership in Vermont has been exceptional. His writings, public talks and TV interviews dealing with weather, climate, climate change, energy, and policy issues have fostered positive debate; as they both clarify the climate issues we all face, while encouraging readers and listeners to explore alternative, hopeful paths for themselves, their families and society.”

—Rong Fu, President, Global Environmental Change focus group, University of Texas

Response

I am grateful to the AGU Global Environmental Change focus group for selecting me as the first recipient of the Bert Bolin Award.

My work over the past 40 years has covered a wide range of topics central to understanding the Earth’s climate over land and ocean, and the coupling between the oceans and land surface, the atmospheric boundary layer, clouds, convection, and radiation across scales. Because I have worked as an independent scientist in Vermont for decades, this work would not have been possible without the support of so many across the globe. I would specifically like to thank Martin Miller, Anton Beljaars, Pedro Viterbo, and Gianpaulo Balsamo (and the late Tony Hollingsworth) at ECMWF for 30 years of collaboration using data to evaluate and improve the physics of their analysis-forecast system. My recent work on land-atmosphere-cloud coupling over the Canadian Prairies that this award cites would not have been possible without the foresight of Ray Desjardins at Agriculture Canada, and the generous support of other Canadian scientists. My understanding of the Amazon owes much to my Brazilian friends and collaborators, Maria and Pedro Silva Dias. Long-term support from NSF and grants from NASA made all this possible.

My role as a climate advisor in Vermont owes a profound debt to the people of Vermont, who have deep roots in the land. They see what is happening to their climate, and have reached out to me, urgently seeking understanding and answers, as ongoing climate change is transforming the state. So for more than a decade, it has been clear that my research must address these critical questions, and translate all that we know, both locally and globally, into concepts that citizens and professionals can understand and apply to their work and lives.

—Alan K. Betts, Atmospheric Research, Pittsford, Vt.

Honors Contacts

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Artesha Moore

Vice President, Affiliation, Engagement & Membership

202-777-7530 | [email protected]

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Leah Bland

Program Manager, Honors

202-777-7389 | [email protected]

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Rosa Maymi

Director, Engagement and Membership

202-777-7322 | [email protected]

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Hannah Hoffman

Honors and Affiliation Program Coordinator

202-777-7515 | [email protected]