Bitz Receives 2013 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award

Cecilia M. Bitz, Paul A. Ginoux, Mark Z. Jacobson, Sergey Nizkorodov, and Ping Yang received 2013 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award at the 2013 AGU Fall Meeting, held 9–13 December in San Francisco, Calif. The award recognizes “research contributions by exceptional mid-career scientists in the fields of atmospheric and climate sciences.”


bitz_ceciliaThe Atmospheric Sciences section of AGU awards one of the five Ascent Awards to Professor Cecilia M. Bitz of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at the University of Washington for advancing our ability to model climate in numerous ways, especially in relation to sea ice.

Bitz is best known for her integrated and powerful contributions on Arctic sea ice. She developed improved representations of sea ice physics for implementation in coupled global climate models to determine the role of sea ice in the climate system and high-latitude climate and the role of changing sea ice in climate change. She was able to show from first principles that sea ice thinning greatly amplifies climate variability.

Working from her improved understanding of sea ice, Cecilia assessed the controls on Arctic amplification in climate models, finding strong dependence on the mean state of the sea ice. From this finding, Bitz provides a path toward improved model projections.

Her research deals with both complex systems and important problems in climate. As stated by her nominator regarding aspects of the climate system, “understanding the recent decline is a very complex challenge since its attribution requires quantification of the roles of ocean heat transport, atmospheric heat fluxes, sea-ice age distributions, and unforced interannual modes of coupled Arctic variability among many other factors.”

In noting Cecilia’s qualifications for an Ascent Award, one letter of support stated, “Professor Bitz’s scholarship on sea ice is both superlative and unmatched among her faculty peers. This is especially evident given her rapid climb in international standing as she has progressed from an early-career scientist to mid-career faculty member.” Another stated, “As a high-latitude scientist, Cecilia has gained an enormous respect in the community, and her advice and opinion is valued in the United States and the world.”

We are extremely pleased to present a 2013 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award to Professor Cecilia M. Bitz.

—PETER J. WEBSTER, Georgia Tech University, Atlanta


I am delighted and honored to receive this award. I am grateful to my nominators and to the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section for this recognition. Many of my students and colleagues have become my friends over the years. It has been a pleasure to share the joy of scientific discovery and companionship with them. I am also fortunate to have had teachers and advisors who inspired me and were generous with their time and encouragement.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to be a part of the Community Earth System Model (CESM) project. From early in my career, I have been asked to serve on various committees with the CESM, National Research Council, and National Science Foundation that have helped me grow and exposed me to fantastic scientists, leaders, and mentors. I feel that some have gambled when they chose me for various positions. I shall strive to be as bold when I have the opportunity to choose others for such opportunities in the future.

—CECILIA M. BITZ, Atmospheric Sciences Department, University of Washington, Seattle