Biggs Receives 2017 Geodesy Section Award

Juliet Biggs will receive the 2017 Geodesy Section Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award is given “in recognition of major advances in geodesy.”


Juliet Biggs has made outstanding contributions to the field of satellite geodesy for understanding both active volcanism and faulting.

As a student, Juliet developed an innovative method for making interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) observations where the ground cover was nonideal. This allowed her to make unique observations of how strain was distributed in space and time before and after the 2002 Denali earthquake in Alaska.

During her postdoc, Juliet shifted her main focus to volcanic processes. Through systematic surveying of the world’s volcanoes, she discovered that several volcanoes in Kenya and Ethiopia, previously thought to be dormant, were actually undergoing episodes of deformation.

Juliet went on to examine the link between eruption and deformation from a global compilation of volcanoes, showing that very few eruptions occur without observable deformation. This work won her the Lloyd’s Science of Risk Prize in 2014 and led to the formation of the Global Deformation Database Task Force.

Juliet’s contributions to the field of geodesy go beyond measuring deformation with InSAR. She has developed methods for measuring rapid topographic changes at erupting volcanoes using radar, and methods to integrate a wide variety of other geodetic observations. She also recognizes that major advances require input from different disciplines and is currently co-leading a major project to understand volcanism in the Main Ethiopian Rift through the integration of geophysical, geological, and geochemical observations.

Juliet’s work has been, and continues to be, extremely influential internationally. Her research pushes the boundaries of our understanding of volcanic systems and delivers real-world benefits. I am thrilled that her achievements are being recognized with the 2017 AGU Geodesy Section Award.

—Andy Hooper, University of Leeds, Leeds, U.K.


Many of the previous AGU Geodesy Section Award winners have been role models for me personally, and seeing my name among them is truly humbling. I am honored to receive this award and am especially grateful to Andy Hooper for his citation.

It is a privilege to work in a field that has applications across a broad spectrum of the Earth sciences yet retains its own identity and sense of society. The AGU Geodesy community has nurtured my career in many ways over the years; from invaluable feedback at poster sessions, to a student award in 2005, and to my first invited talk in 2008. From my early work on faults in the United States, to current projects on volcanoes in Africa and Latin America, geodesy has given me the opportunity to explore the world, a highlight of which is collaborating with scientists from a wide range of backgrounds and specialties.

In reality, this award is not an individual honor but a tribute to a number of colleagues, supervisors, and students who have inspired, advised, and supported me over the years. In particular, Tim Wright and Barry Parsons set me on a path of scientific curiosity, rigor, and integrity that I endeavor to follow to this day. At an early stage, Bramley Murton and Mark Simons somehow found time in their busy academic schedules to provide summer undergraduate research opportunities and opened my eyes to a whole new field. These days, I am enormously proud to work alongside some inspirational scientists—students, postdocs, and colleagues—who each bring their individual ideas, challenges, and rewards and ensure that no day is ever dull. My thanks go to all of you and to the countless others whose hard work behind the scenes makes all this possible.

—Juliet Biggs, University of Bristol, Bristol, U.K.

Larsen Receives 2017 Luna B. Leopold Young Scientist Award

Isaac Larsen will receive the 2017 Luna B. Leopold Young Scientist Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes a young scientist for “a significant and outstanding contribution that advances the field of Earth and planetary surface processes.”


It is an honor to present Isaac Larsen as the recipient of the 2017 Luna B. Leopold Award. Isaac’s accomplishments span a ridiculously diverse array of basic and applied geomorphic problems, including postfire hydrology and erosion, landsliding and landscape evolution, soil production and weathering, and megaflood erosion. Consistent with Luna Leopold’s legacy and scientific approach, Isaac’s discoveries invariably incorporate fundamental observations that inform and advance theory on surface processes and landforms. During his Ph.D., Isaac incorporated landslides into an accounting of uplift and erosion in an active and well-studied region of the Himalayas. In the process, he mapped oodles of landslides and revisited how scaling relationships can be applied to soil and bedrock slope failures. His findings support the threshold slope conceptual model, a central theory of geomorphology that had never been definitively tested in a natural setting. Working in the Southern Alps in New Zealand, Isaac conducted several intense and physically demanding field campaigns to document remarkably rapid rates of soil production and weathering that challenge how we conceptualize feedbacks between physical and chemical denudation and critical zone evolution. For his postdoctoral research, Isaac considered how the Missoula Floods may have eroded iconic features like Moses Coulee. His calculations offer a mechanistic explanation for how progressive incision may be responsible for shaping portions of the Channeled Scablands, and this work motivates continued investigation of that remarkable landscape. In a relatively short amount of time, Isaac’s discoveries have established him as an intellectual leader in our field with skills for tackling problems relevant to human and geologic timescales, such as climate change, soil sustainability, and carbon cycling. His worthiness of the Leopold Award is unquestionable, and his contributions serve as inspiring examples of how process-based observations in geomorphology can be used to tackle big questions.

—Josh Roering, University of Oregon, Eugene


It is an exciting time to be a geomorphologist. The scientific approach ushered in by Luna Leopold and his colleagues continues to break new ground, spurred by the wealth of new tools that enable us to answer questions that could only be asked in decades past. Like Luna, I had the good fortune to work on a wide range of topics along my early career path. On that path, I had the pleasure to interact with numerous mentors who shaped the scientist I am today. Among those, I would like to thank the faculty at Carleton College for introducing me to the joy and challenge of interpreting the Earth; Jeff Strasser for an eye-opening summer of research in Alaska, where the seeds of an academic career were first planted; Jack Schmidt for instilling his unwavering commitment to scientific stewardship of Earth’s landscapes; Joel Pederson for introducing the challenge of grappling with landscape evolution on timescales beyond what I could observe; Lee MacDonald for steadfast support and brutally honest feedback that turned me into a writer; John Stone for unselfishly sharing his exhaustive knowledge of cosmogenic nuclides; Dave Montgomery for modeling a scientific worldview that I can only aspire to; and Mike Lamb for profoundly expanding my horizons with new landscapes and quantitative vision.

Thank you, Josh, for those kind words, and all who supported my nomination. Much of the research that brought on this award has involved colleagues from around the world, and I cherish the friendships with my many collaborators. Finally, I cannot thank my family enough for their love and support. I am humbled to be honored with the Luna B. Leopold Young Scientist Award. I thank you all for joining me to celebrate Luna’s legacy and for making this an exciting time to be a geomorphologist.

—Isaac Larsen, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Church Receives 2017 G. K. Gilbert Award

Michael Church will receive the 2017 G. K. Gilbert Award in Surface Processes at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes a scientist who has made “a single significant advance or sustained significant contributions to the field of Earth and planetary surface processes” and “also promoted an environment of unselfish cooperation in research and the inclusion of young scientists into the field.”


Given Grove Karl Gilbert’s legacy of high-caliber fieldwork, coupled to process-based studies, there can be few more deserving recipients of the G. K. Gilbert Award than Prof. Michael Church of the University of British Columbia. Primarily a field scientist, his extensive investigations on Baffin Island, his backbreaking work establishing necessary sampling criteria for gravel bar sedimentary studies, and other works on gravel bed river dynamics have been complemented by flume experimentation and computational studies on process dynamics.

In addition to statistical rigor, three other great attributes of Mike’s research are mechanical insight, as exemplified by work with Rob Ferguson on grain settling velocity; an ability to critique and interrogate foundational concepts, as shown in his groundbreaking work with Olav Slaymaker on how equilibrium scaling for specific sediment yield breaks down when a postglacial sediment pulse is working its way through a landscape; and a keen reflective and philosophical strand to his thinking, with particular focus on the nature of scale, associated phenomena such as allometry, and the history of the discipline.

Mike has also been a pivotal figure in the education of professional and academic geomorphologists in Canada and farther afield. His undergraduate hydrology course, with the requirement to deploy calculus, graphical techniques, and conceptual reflection in order to succeed, left a deep impression on me on how such classes should be devised. At graduate level, that Mike’s numerous students themselves have gone on to make significant contributions to the field is testament to the way in which Mike helped hone their critical and technical faculties while they worked with him.

I am sure that a great many colleagues from around the world will join me in expressing their delight that AGU has seen fit to award the 2017 G. K. Gilbert Award to Mike.

—Christopher Keylock, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom


Ah, if one could but believe such an encomium. But one implication of it unquestionably is true: I have consciously attempted to emulate the scientific method of G. K. Gilbert. Geomorphological insight must be preceded by fieldwork—detailed, usually strenuous, field (or laboratory) work—and must be followed by careful and extended thought.

There are three things I wish to say about this unexpected but much appreciated award. First, sincere thanks to Chris Keylock for the nomination and to the anonymous members of the focus group who selected it. Coming as it does from my immediate colleagues, it is the most valued of recognitions.

Second, this is not really a personal award. “Michael Church” is simply the corporate signature of about 10 generations of remarkable students, both graduate and undergraduate, and, as Chris has noted, two or three senior colleagues. It would be unfair to mention only some names, and tedious to mention all. You know who you are; the achievement is yours.

Third, I would like to reflect on the fact that I am not an American. It is nevertheless entirely in the character of AGU that I should receive this award (consider the names on the honors list for this or any other year). From its beginnings (in 1919) as a semiofficial focus for American national and international activities in the then nascent field of geophysics, the Union has grown to be the authoritative international leader of the much expanded field. And it has welcomed us all, from anywhere on the globe. It is an outstanding example of American scientific leadership. Thank you for that.

As for my work, it will be of value only if it gives rise to better work (paraphrased from a letter of Alexander von Humboldt to Charles Darwin, September 1839).

—Michael Church, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Lenaerts Receives 2017 Cryosphere Early Career Award

Jan Lenaerts will receive the 2017 Cryosphere Early Career Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award is for “a significant contribution to cryospheric science and technology.”


Advances in computer modeling of cryospheric and polar systems are enabling our field to confidently predict past, present, and future conditions, thereby informing scientific studies, policy, and future planning. Jan Lenaerts’s meticulous, diligent, and diverse efforts in the field of modeling have led to major improvements in understanding the surface mass balance of ice sheets. Jan’s work has allowed complex and necessary processes to be implemented in models, including wind redistribution of snow, meltwater fluxes, cloud properties, and snow densification.

Jan received his Ph.D., cum laude, in polar meteorology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands in 2013, where his work advanced our knowledge and modeling capabilities for wind redistribution of snow in Antarctica and Greenland. This work included novel field measurements of blowing snow, used in a way that strengthen connections between field measurements and modeling. Since then, Jan has expanded his work, becoming an expert on Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, global and regional models, and land and atmospheric physics. This work has led to multiple high-impact journal articles, ranging from cloud radiative properties to meltwater retention in snow, and compelling scientific communication, including a well-received TEDx talk.

In 2017, Jan brought his expertise to the University of Colorado, where he continues to advance his work as cochair of the Community Earth System Model (CESM) land–ice working group. Acknowledging Jan’s leadership and efforts, Dr. William Lipscomb at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) states that “Thanks largely to Jan…CESM is poised to become the world’s premier modeling tool for studying ice sheet surface mass balance variability and change.” Jan’s work with CESM highlights not only his scientific skill but also his strong commitment to the cryospheric and atmospheric communities and unselfish cooperation in his research.

Jan exemplifies AGU’s core values in his collaborative work, claiming a diverse set of coauthors, ranging from students to senior scientists. His contributions as a world-renowned modeler, collaborative scientist, and scientific communicator set him apart among his colleagues, and inspire us. With this recognition, we thank Jan for his commitment to improving global and regional models and look forward to his future scientific achievements.

—Lora Koenig, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado Boulder


Thank you, Lora, and the nomination committee, for your kind words, and thanks to my colleagues who put this nomination together. While I am deeply honored to receive the Cryosphere Early Career Award, I do not consider it a solely personal recognition; rather, I would like to dedicate it to the collaborative science I have been involved in throughout recent years. The dynamic working environment at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU) at Utrecht University has enabled me to develop my own research path. In that regard, special thanks go to my Ph.D. mentor, Prof. Michiel van den Broeke, who unconditionally shared his wide network in cryospheric sciences, enabling me and my fellow IMAU students (thanks all!) to become part of international, multidisciplinary research teams such as the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Intercomparison Exercise (IMBIE), Ice2Sea, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I thoroughly enjoyed the years of (trying to) improve the RACMO2 model and (trying to) convince the cryocommunity that it works well but that it is definitely not perfect—and will never be. Getting into contact with the multitude of disciplines within the glaciological community not only allowed me to combine field observations, remote sensing data, and model output but also offered great friendship along the way. Joining the CESM community has been, and still is, a wonderful experience and demonstrates the power of building a shared, collaborative tool across multiple interests and disciplines. This award strengthens my personal motivation to continue my work to understand the climate of Earth’s ice sheets and, fueled by the current political climate, to reach out to the general public and the next generation of climate scientists.

—Jan Lenaerts, University of Colorado Boulder

Czimczik Receives 2017 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring

Claudia Czimczik will receive the 2017 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award is given to “one mid-career female scientist…for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists.”


We are excited to announce our selection of Dr. Claudia Czimczik, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), as the recipient of the 2017 Sulzman Award for Excellence in Education and Mentoring. The Sulzman Award is given annually for significant contributions as a role model and mentor for the next generation of biogeoscientists. Dr. Czimczik was selected because she is an accomplished researcher and an excellent mentor and educator to undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

As a researcher, Dr. Czimczik is a pioneer in the application of radiocarbon techniques to understanding soil carbon dynamics. She advanced this field by developing methods to measure radiocarbon on small sample sizes in novel systems, establishing field sites in Greenland to investigate carbon cycling responses to climate variation in the High Arctic, and investigating the contribution of black carbon to soil carbon storage. In addition, she made substantial contributions to understanding greenhouse gas fluxes and carbon storage in urban soils in southern California.

As a mentor and educator, in addition to her regular course load as an associate professor, which includes hands-on approaches, Dr. Czimczik teaches short courses in radiocarbon dating that she adapted to include Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) participants and uses creative teaching and outreach efforts for the public. So far in her career, she has mentored 18 undergraduates, resulting in five theses. Her success in mentoring and training the next generation of scientists is borne out by the success of her mentees, who have gone on to numerous professional and academic positions. As one nominator put it, “What sets [Dr. Czimczik’s] record above the norm and sets it as a candidate for the Sulzman are the additional activities she undertakes to help develop students from UCI and elsewhere.” “[She] is an enormously productive and talented researcher who is taking those steps beyond the expected to help develop junior scholars, preparing them to be successful in their own careers, and to carry forward a culture of mentorship.” Dr. Czimczik’s strong commitment to diversity is also evidenced by her role as a mentor in the UCI Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE) program, which focuses on the recruitment and retention of diverse graduate students. She also reaches diverse audiences through K–12 and public outreach programs.

—Ruth Varner, University of New Hampshire


I am honored to be recognized with the Sulzman Award and would like to thank all who supported my nomination. I am glad to be a biogeoscientist and to be part of the international community of scientists and educators within AGU.

Many uncertainties remain as to whether thawing permafrost will become a carbon source to the atmosphere, and training the next generation of scientists who can help solve this critical issue is important to me. As a biogeoscientist, fieldwork connects me to the system I study, and keeps me fit. More important, it challenges me to understand my data sets within the context of a landscape. Just as how my mentors taught me the importance of taking representative samples, I endeavor to pass this knowledge down to my students and postdocs. Back in the lab, we use torches, cryogenic liquids, and instrumentation the size of a room, and it gives me great joy to see students mastering techniques and learning about the power of radiocarbon and how we can use this to understand the changing world around us.

As biogeoscientists, we are in a unique position to share our knowledge so that the people in our communities can make more informed decisions for a sustainable future. I strive to take all my students into wildlands and cultural landscapes to teach them about the importance of soils and plants. It is my hope that through these experiences my students can appreciate the services terrestrial ecosystems provide to us humans and how our actions can have local, regional, and global consequences. I also believe that biogeoscientists can lead by example and show our students and the public how the pursuit of knowledge brings people from different backgrounds together in peaceful discourse.

I am grateful to my mentors, students, and peers who helped shape the researcher and teacher that I am today. My mentors, including C. Beierkuhnlein, K. Müller-Hohenstein, A. Paulsch, C. Preston, J. Randerson, M. Schmidt, E.-D. Schulze, S. Trumbore, J. Welker, and X. Xu, welcomed me into their worlds, patiently taught me how to read landscapes, write, operate instruments, and quantify uncertainties, and encouraged me to always share good ideas. I thank my postdocs and my graduate and undergraduate students for their curiosity and hard work. As an educator, I encourage all students to keep on asking questions, demand time with their mentors, go on field trips, be peer mentors, and become part of the research community.

—Claudia Czimczik, University of California, Irvine

Nakajima Receives 2017 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award

Teruyuki Nakajima will receive the 2017 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award at the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, Louisiana. The award recognizes “broad influence in atmospheric science through exceptional creativity, inspiration of younger scientists, mentoring, international collaborations, and unselfish cooperation in research.”


“For his seminal theoretical and experimental contributions to the remote sensing of cloud and aerosol properties”

Teruyuki (or Terry) has been a pioneer in developing cloud and aerosol remote sensing at visible and near-infrared wavelengths that is used today in satellites of the United States, Japan, and Europe, as well as airborne systems in several countries. He has been a powerful source of inspiration for many in the radiative transfer and remote sensing field. He is one of the founding members of AERONET, a worldwide network of Sun/sky radiometers for measuring aerosol optical and microphysical properties that is now distributed throughout the world (in more than 750 locations). He established the ground-based SKYNET observational network to measure and study aerosol trends in the East Asia corridor. He also led and directed numerous East Asian field campaigns to provide requisite data for validating and tuning aerosol chemistry transport models, and for documenting regional trends in aerosol variability, air pollution, and air quality. His forward and inversion radiation codes are widely used in the satellite, ground network, and modeling communities.

Terry has mentored a number of students and collaborated with a breadth of scientists in Europe, the United States, and Asia. He has published journal articles with 291 different scientists, which highlights his unselfish collaboration in research. As of April 2017, he has a citation record of 13,011 citations, which shows his vast influence in atmospheric sciences, particularly, radiation and remote sensing. I am pleased to present the 2017 Yoram J. Kaufman Unselfish Cooperation in Research Award to Dr. Teruyuki Nakajima.

—Joyce E. Penner, President, Atmospheric Sciences Section, AGU


It is my great honor to receive the Yoram J. Kaufman award. I thank Prof. Masayuki Tanaka, my thesis advisor at Tohoku University, and Dr. Michael D. King, my host scientist when I visited NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 1987–1990. I would also like to extend my gratitude to all of the students, researchers, and supporting staff of my laboratory at the University of Tokyo and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), as well as my collaborators across the world. I am moved by this opportunity to remember the warm smile and exciting atmosphere of Yoram when he talked about his new ideas on science to young scientists and foreign visitors. Reflecting on these things, I feel I am a lucky guy to get such wonderful scenery in my adventure on the river of science; sometimes slow and sometimes dramatic. The coupled atmosphere–ocean matrix method, symmetric matrix representation of the discrete ordinate theory, TMS/IMS truncation formulae for radiance calculation, STAR-radiation library, sky radiometer technology for AERONET and SKYNET, two/four channel aerosol remote sensing algorithms, cloud microphysics remote sensing algorithms, global aerosol–cloud parameter comparison for the aerosol direct/indirect effect study, MSTRN radiation code and SPRINTARS aerosol module for climate models, and field experiments are beautiful stones in the treasure box of my adventure with such wonderful young scientists and old friends. I owe you—thanks! Last, I express my appreciation to AGU for its generosity in giving me this award among numerous excellent scientists.

—Teruyuki Nakajima, Earth Observation Research Center, JAXA, Tsukuba, Japan

Van der Wiel Receives 2017 James R. Holton Award

Karin van der Wiel will receive the 2017 James R. Holton Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes “outstanding scientific research and accomplishments by early-career scientists” who are “no more than three years past the award of the Ph.D. degree.”


“For her creative studies of climate extremes, in particular, those involving precipitation”

Dr. van der Wiel has distinguished herself by her ability to combine modeling with observations in new ways to explain various atmospheric phenomena. She began her career by studying the tropical dynamics related to the diagonal subtropical convergence zones of the Southern Hemisphere, developing a theory to explain why the South Pacific and Atlantic convergence zones are diagonal, the origin of their location and strength, and how they influence Rossby wave propagation. She then looked at extreme precipitation. She brought new insight into the fundamentals of our ability to model extreme precipitation in global climate models and how the field should interpret and test trends in observed and modeled precipitation extremes. She has brought an enthusiasm and creativity that is far beyond other scientists at a similar place in their careers. Her research has been picked up by the general press, and she has adeptly responded to their requests for information as well as to requests from governmental sources.

A statement in her supporting letter best summarizes Dr. van der Wiel’s research talents:“She amazed her supervisors with her insight into dynamical meteorology, theoretical and technical skills, and her ability to clearly communicate the main issues she was working on and always see the big picture. Her rate of progress was astounding.”

On behalf of the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section, I am pleased to present the 2017 James R. Holton Award to Dr. Karin van der Wiel.

—Joyce E. Penner, President, Atmospheric Sciences Section, AGU


It is a great honor to have been selected as one of the recipients of the award for junior atmospheric scientists this year. I would like to thank AGU, the Atmospheric Sciences awards committee, and those who put together my nomination. Seeing the somewhat daunting list of previous winners, I feel humbled yet excited to be at this stage in my scientific journey.

I was first introduced to atmospheric dynamics by means of James R. Holton’s textbook; it has served as an encyclopedia ever since. Receiving an award that bears his name is a recognition I never expected to receive.

One of the privileges of starting a (my) scientific career is that one gets to meet many inspiring people from around the world. I have been very lucky to have met, learned from, and sometimes worked with many passionate, smart, and kind people. All my accomplishments are a direct result of these interactions, and I would not be where I am today without the support of this community.

In particular, I would like to thank Adrian Matthews for his guidance and encouragement during my Ph.D.; also, David Stevens and Manoj Joshi; Gabriel Vecchi for his support over the years and all advice offered; and, finally, Sarah Kapnick for her mentorship. I feel empowered through knowing her.

I hope to be able to continue working in the atmospheric science field for many more years and eventually return as much as I have received from the scientific community.

—Karin van der Wiel, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt

Peng Receives 2017 James R. Holton Award

Jianfei Peng will receive the 2017 James R. Holton Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes “outstanding scientific research and accomplishments by early-career scientists” who are “no more than three years past the award of the Ph.D. degree.”


“For his innovative studies of aerosol aging, including the aging of black carbon”

Dr. Peng is mainly known for his experimental work examining a wide variety of aerosol issues. At the time of his nomination, he had already written 20 peer-reviewed articles in high impact, top-tier journals. One important paper elucidates the formation mechanisms for haze in Beijing, China, via two distinct processes governed by meteorology. Another examines severe haze formation due to sulfur during the 1952 London fog events as well as in China. Probably his most influential work was explaining the rapid timescale of aging for black carbon, which, when implemented in climate studies, leads to an improved evaluation of the direct radiative forcing of black carbon, thereby closing the gap between model predictions and observations of the effect of black carbon aerosols on climate.

As noted in his nomination letter, Peng’s “work is clearly distinguished from those of his peers in terms of its breakthrough nature and societal significance,” and a supporter writes, “His scientific record is truly impressive, not only in terms of the quantity but also the quality and impacts of his publications. Few junior faculty and scientists have achieved so much at such early stage of their career.”

On behalf of the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section, I am pleased to present the 2017 James R. Holton Award to Dr. Jianfei Peng.

—Joyce E. Penner, President, Atmospheric Sciences Section, AGU


It is truly a great honor for me to be selected as the 2017 James R. Holton Award honoree. I was very humbled when I knew I will receive such an award and would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Atmospheric Sciences section of AGU and the members of the award committee.

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the people from whom I have benefited greatly. I am truly grateful to Renyi Zhang, who shares his insightful understanding in atmospheric sciences as well as his enthusiasm and passion, and provides me the platform and opportunity in my early scientific career. My deepest appreciation also goes to my thesis adviser, Min Hu, who is a wonderful mentor and has been providing constant support to me in the past 10 years. I would like to thank Limin Zeng, Song Guo, Zhijun Wu, Min Shao, and Yuanhang Zhang at Peking University (PKU) for their guidance on my research, and to thank Shijin Shuai, Zhanqing Li, Charles E. Kolb, and Mattias Hallquist for the encouragement and opportunities they provided. My gratitude is also extended to all my friends and colleagues at PKU and Texas A&M University, whom I am fortunate enough to work with. And, of course, I thank my family for their unconditional support through all of this.

I never thought I could win an award named after a person as exceptional as James Holton was. This award is truly an incredible inspiration to my scientific life. I will live up to the scientific excellence that this award embodies.

—Jianfei Peng, Texas A&M University, College Station

Wood Receives 2017 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award

Robert Wood will receive the 2017 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes research contributions by “exceptional mid-career (academic, government, and private sector) scientists in the fields of atmospheric and climate sciences.”

Citation for Robert Wood

“For his seminal contributions to our understanding of physical processes controlling marine boundary layer clouds and their interactions in the Earth’s climate system”

Rob Wood is a world recognized leader in the investigation of stratocumulus clouds, their interactions with aerosols, and their role in climate system. He first formulated the relationship between temperatures at 700 hPa and the surface (the “estimated inversion strength”) and cloud fraction, which is able to largely explain the regional and seasonal variations in stratus cloud amount. He found that cloud fraction is strongly linked with the LWP spatial variability at horizontal scales of 10–50 km, indicating the importance of organized mesoscale cellular convection (MCC) to understand and predict low cloud coverage and variability in the subtropics. He has linked the properties of MCC with precipitation, and with large-scale meteorological drivers, and connected the macrostructure of MCC with microphysical processes that under some circumstances can result in the catastrophic loss of aerosol particles, leading to transformations in MCC. He has also developed new and novel methods for the use of satellite data to understand mixing in clouds and enhance our understanding of the role of precipitation in the marine boundary layer. He has led, or has played leadership roles in a number of field experiments (VOCALS, CSET, and ORACLES, and the Eastern North Atlantic Measurement site on Graciosa Island in the Azores), that have led to immense advancements in our understanding of marine boundary-layer cloud systems, which play a critical role in the cloud feedback to climate change.

There is little doubt that Rob will continue to advance atmospheric sciences, particularly that involving clouds and is richly deserving of this award. On behalf of the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section, I am pleased to present a 2017 Ascent Award to Robert Wood.

—Joyce E. Penner, President, Atmospheric Sciences Section, AGU


I am honored to receive the AGU Ascent Award in recognition of my work on marine boundary layer clouds. I am extremely grateful to the scientists who selflessly gave their time and energy to support my nomination.

There are many people who have given me opportunities, insights and guidance throughout my career. I am indebted to my Ph.D. adviser Peter Jonas for giving me my first experience in airborne atmospheric research at the University of Manchester in the UK. This gave me the bug for airborne research that has been a strong component of my research throughout my career. Doug Johnson at the Met Office helped me get started in airborne cloud physics research and introduced me to large international field experiments. It was at the Met Office that I met Paul Field who has been a long-time collaborator on various projects related to clouds. His drive and outside-the-box thinking has led to some very enjoyable projects. Dennis Hartmann and Chris Bretherton at the University of Washington provided a raft of opportunities to explore cloud processes by incorporating satellite data, observing the eastern Tropical oceans, and introducing me to cloud-scale and simple theoretical modeling. I am extremely grateful to all my colleagues at the University of Washington for their insight, intellect, and enthusiasm, all with a wonderful spirit of collegiality. I am indebted to my research group members past and present, who have allowed me to pursue new ideas and directions.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents for their unwavering support, and especially my wife, Socorro, for giving me the freedom to pursue a career that involves considerable time away from home.

—Robert Wood, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle

Vecchi Receives 2017 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award

Gabriel Vecchi will receive the 2017 Atmospheric Sciences Ascent Award at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, to be held 11–15 December in New Orleans, La. The award recognizes research contributions by “exceptional mid-career (academic, government, and private sector) scientists in the fields of atmospheric and climate sciences.”

Citation for Gabriel Vecchi

“For his creative scientific advances associated with understanding the effects of climate change on the dynamics associated with the Walker circulation, the Hadley circulation, and tropical cyclones”

Gabe Vecchi has used his strong background in observational diagnostics, combined with excellent dynamical insights, to produce a number of key findings that have been highly cited in the literature. For example, in a 2006 Nature paper, he showed that observed changes in the Walker circulation could be attributed to human-induced climate change. In 2007, he also examined how changing large-scale climate affects vertical wind shear in the tropics, an issue of great relevance for tropical storms. He has also published a study on climate change and hurricanes. He examined how a changing observational network has significantly influenced our ability to quantify tropical storm changes over the past century. He extended this work to show how modern observing systems capture far more short-lived tropical systems, thus making the interpretation of longer-term trends more problematic. He has also led efforts to develop both dynamical and statistical models for seasonal hurricane prediction, with significant skill in predicting landfalls of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes.

Gabe has also been involved in community service through his work on a number of national and international committees and working groups. For example, he has served as cochair of the US CLIVAR Hurricane Working Group. He exemplifies the qualities needed to continue to advance the field of climate change and dynamics and is richly deserving of a 2017 Ascent Award. On behalf of the AGU Atmospheric Sciences section, I am pleased to present a 2017 Ascent Award to Gabriel Vecchi.

—Joyce E. Penner, President, Atmospheric Sciences Section, AGU


It is a great honor to be one of the recipients of the 2017 AGU Ascent Award. I am astounded to find myself in the company of such accomplished awardees. I am grateful for the effort that went into nominating me for this award. Thank you to Anna, Emil, and Maja—it’s hard to leave you when I go to work.

I am thankful for the amazing environments that have supported and encouraged my scientific pursuits, with fantastic colleagues to inspire and challenge me. Thank you, Don Altman, for introducing me to oceanography; it changed my life. I owe much to Rutgers University and the University of Washington for providing rich and challenging environments. Thank you, Mohamed Iskandarani, for my first taste of research. I owe so much to Ed Harrison, always generous with ideas, support, and friendship, and delicate in criticism.

I am lucky to have spent over a decade with GFDL’s people, who made my research better, broader, and more fun. I thank my mentor and friend Tony Rosati, whose creativity and generosity I strive to emulate, and Ants Leetmaa, for taking a chance on me. I am grateful to Tom Delworth, Keith Dixon, and Tony Broccoli for their support, inspiration, and advice. Brian Soden, Gabriele Villarini, and Jim Smith, thank you for making research enjoyable and rewarding. Thank you, Isaac Held, Tom Knutson, and Ming Zhao, for teaching me about the tropical atmosphere. I will long treasure having been part of a talented, passionate, and energetic group at GFDL, and I am inspired by the success of its members.

I have had such a fulfilling time trying to understand our climate system, and I am excited to have started the second half of my career at Princeton University, where I look forward to new adventures and discoveries.

—Gabriel Vecchi, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.