University of Miami
Amy C. Clement was awarded the 2007 James B. Macelwane Medal at the AGU Fall Meeting Honors Ceremony, which was held on 12 December 2007 in San Francisco, Calif. The medal is “for significant contributions to the geophysical sciences by a young scientist of outstanding ability.”
I am pleased and honored to cite Amy Clement for the 2007 James B. Macelwane Medal. Amy’s work has introduced new ways of thinking that altered research strategies; that is, she is an intellectual leader. Not everyone agrees with her ideas, but no paleoclimate scientist ignores them. Amy’s work has been instrumental in changing the way paleoclimatologists think about the tropics and their influence on global climate. The ocean-atmosphere dynamics concepts that she introduced to paleoclimate are now widely used.
Amy’s talk at the 1999 AGU conference “Mechanisms of Millennial-Scale Global Climate Change” showed how the tropical ocean-atmosphere system could react strongly and abruptly to orbital variations. This offered a plausible alternative to the North Atlantic centered view of abrupt—and not so abrupt—climate change. Her work, which draws on a solid understanding of modern climate dynamics, complements her willingness to work with a broad variety of paleoclimate archives and the scientists who produce them. Amy thus links the paleoclimate community with the modern climate dynamicists. The breadth of her scientific understanding is an essential ingredient in her ability to be scientifically persuasive in challenging old paradigms without being argumentative.
In the past decade there has been a dramatic expansion in paleo-ENSO studies. The modeling study of Clement et al. [Paleoceanography, 2000] provided an explanation of how the changes in orbital configuration would affect the coupled ocean-atmosphere dynamics in the tropical Pacific. This paper proposed that though ENSO did not shut down during the Holocene, the cycle was weaker in the early Holocene. This “prediction,” which prompted a new interpretation of the Ecuadorian lake record of Rodbell et al. [Science, 1997], was soon verified by an analysis of fossil corals from New Guinea [Tudhope et al., Science, 2001]. Paleoproxy data published since then are all consistent with this picture.
In other publications Amy has extended these concepts and also addressed a number of other paleoclimate questions, including orbital impacts on the Hadley circulation and the relationship between tropical variations and the thermohaline circulation. She has also addressed a number of important questions about modern climate, including the mean tropical radiation budget [Clement and Soden, 2005], recent changes in the strength of the Hadley cell [Mitas and Clement, 2006], and the reasons for the existence and shape of the tropical warm pool [Clement et al., 2005].
When things go wrong, the ordinary scientist retreats to safe ground while the excellent one turns the problem into unexpectedly deep results. Amy has time and again turned an apparent dead end into something of value. The work she did on tropical thermostats is a prime example: She took a wrong idea of mine and was “lucky” enough to extract something interesting from it. Amy has consistently worked on problems that matter, a reflection of her precocious intellectual maturity and scientific judgment. This Macelwane Medal is fitting recognition of a splendid beginning; I am sure there is much more to come.
—MARK A. CANE, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, N. Y.
Thank you, Mark. There is a lot of talk these days about mentoring, and I have not seen a finer example than Mark’s. He has figured out the perfect balance between being “hands-off” and coming in at key moments to say when “just fine” is not good enough. Thank you.
I have been fortunate to be inspired by great minds in two different disciplines: modern climate dynamics and geochemistry. This interaction is almost impossible to avoid at Lamont, where Mark, Wally Broecker, and the Lamont community have created an academic culture that is truly cross-disciplinary. I want to thank my colleagues and friends who have influenced me through their own great accomplishments: Richard Seager, Yochanan Kushnir, Steve Zebiak, Alex Hall. I think of my days at Lamont working with these people as some of the most exciting in my career.
My colleagues at the Rosenstiel School have provided an environment in which I am surrounded by a rich diversity of research on many aspects of climate change: marine ecosystems, agricultural applications, tropical meteorology. I have benefited greatly from exposure to these different areas and look forward to learning more from my colleagues in the future. The support I have received there is unlike any other. Otis Brown, Rana Fine, Bill Johns, Larry Peterson, Claes Rooth, and Brian Soden, among others, have provided intellectual and personal mentoring for which I am extremely grateful.
Finally, I want to thank my family. My parents, John and Mickey Clement, have encouraged my various scientific inquiries from a very young age, and more important, they had the highest expectations for all of their children, under which we have all thrived in different ways. I want to thank my mother-in-law, Marlene Broad, for helping to make it possible for me to be a scientist and a mother. And I thank my husband, Kenny Broad, for always reminding me of what I should (and should not) take seriously, and for our two sons, Jasper and Lincoln. I know my work is appreciated by them at home because Jasper tells me that in addition to this medal, I will also be receiving one toy from his room for being a good scientist.
It is wonderful that the issue of climate change has gotten so much attention lately. I am thrilled to be a part of this field at such an exciting time. To be plainly honest, though, what mainly motivates me is simply that I find this work so much fun. I am honored to receive this medal, and especially for doing something that I enjoy so much. Thank you.
—AMY C. CLEMENT, University of Miami, Fla.