Meteorological Prize Winner Warns of Accelerating Warming

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 6, 2008 (ENS) – The man who has just won the climate science community’s highest prize, predicts “a higher future global warming estimate than expected heretofore.”

Professor Jagadish Shukla has been awarded the 52nd International Meteorological Organization Prize for his contributions to meteorological and hydrological science.

The award was presented March 28 by the World Meteorological Organization in Washington, DC at an event hosted by the National Academy of Sciences. It recognizes outstanding work in meteorology and hydrology, as well as contributions to international collaboration in both scientific fields.

Some climate models are better than others, Dr. Shukla said in 2006 as he published the first paper ranking their accuracy. He that when the most accurate models are weighted more heavily than less accurate ones is assessing climate change, it appears that the climate is changing more quickly than anticipated.

A professor in the School of Computational Sciences, Shukla said, “Giving the higher fidelity models more weight implies a higher future global warming estimate than expected heretofore.”

Professor Jagadish Shukla in his office
at George Mason University
(Photo courtesy Institute of
Global Environment and Society)

Professor Shukla has been president of the Institute of Global Environment and Society since 1991.

He has served as professor of Earth Sciences and Global Change at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia since 1994 and as chairman of Climate Dynamics there since 2003.

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud calls him “a pillar of the weather and climate research community along a period during which revolutionary advances in atmospheric and oceanic observation, modeling and predictive capabilities have taken place.”

WMO President Dr. Alexander Bedritsky says he has been “instrumental in developing and supporting international meteorological and hydrological efforts that have enabled the world to better understand and respond to climate change and variability,” including the World Climate Research Programme of the World Meteorological Organization, WMO, itself.

Born in 1944 in a small village without electricity, roads or transportation, and primary school building, his primary school education took placeunder a large banyan tree in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India.

He went on to earn a doctorate in Meteorology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.

Dr. Shukla has contributed to the understanding of the predictability of weather and climate including the Asian monsoon dynamics, deforestation and desertification.

His research has established that there is predictability in the midst of chaos and that there is a scientific basis for short-term climate prediction.

Dr. Shukla assisted in creating weather and climate research centers in India.

When India received the first supercomputer from the USA under special agreement for monsoon forecasting, he was invited by India to be the scientific leader in establishing the National Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting in New Delhi. He helped recruit and train the scientific staff, and implemented a global model to make weather forecasts for India.

The author or co-author of over 150 scientific papers, Dr. Shukla has served as chairman or member of numerous national and international panels and committees.

Dr. Shukla has been associated with the World Climate Research Programme since its inception 26 years ago when he was involved in research on coupled ocean-atmosphere models that could already skillfully predict the sea surface temperature. Under the program, he helped develop the first coupled atmosphere-ocean initiative.

He was instrumental in the creation of the weather and climate research group at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy and led the group’s activities from their inception until 1997.

For the past 34 years, he has visited his village every year and helped establish the Gandhi College in his birth village of Mirdha, India, for the education of rural students in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh.

As winner of the International Meteorological Organization, IMO, Prize, Dr. Shukla is carrying a name with history.

Established in 1873, the IMO is parent to today’s World Meteorological Organization, established in 1950 and designated a UN Specialized Agency in 1951.

In 1955, the World Meteorological Organization’s decision-making body, the World Meteorological Congress, created the “IMO Prize” in honor of its founding parent.

Professor Shukla is also a recipient of the Sir Gilbert Walker Gold Medal of the Indian Meteorological Society, the Rossby Medal of the American Meteorological Society and NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.

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