LLNL climate scientist Benjamin Santer wins DOE Distinguished Scientist Fellowship

Oct. 5, 2005

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LLNL climate scientist Benjamin Santer wins DOE Distinguished Scientist Fellowship

LIVERMORE , Calif. -- Human-induced climate change is likely to be one of the major environmental problems of the 21st century, and effective policies to mitigate human effects on climate will require sound scientific information.

Providing that information is what climate scientist Benjamin Santer hopes to continue doing as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's winner of the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Distinguished Scientist Fellowship.

Santer, who is well renowned in the climate change research community and has contributed to several reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has worked in the Laboratory's Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) for 13 years, which, in his words, has given him "the opportunity to work together with world-class scientists at a world-class research institution.

"Any success I've had over the years is largely due to the success of PCMDI as a whole," Santer said. "I would hope that this award could be used to enhance our group's capabilities."

Santer will receive $1.25 million over five years contingent on his continued employment at Lawrence Livermore. Santer was selected following external peer review of applications based on: evidence of sustained scientific excellence; significant scientific achievements; number of publications; research relevance to programmatic goals in BER; and recommendations from individuals at non-affiliated institutions.

This is the first year that the Department of Energy's BER program is handing out the fellowships. The fellowships are given out in four divisions: climate change research, environmental remediation sciences, life sciences and medical sciences. One scientist from each division is honored this year.

"Human-induced climate change will be one of the major problems confronting our nation - and the nations of the world - in the 21st century," Santer said. "Ideally, governments will use the best-available scientific information to make rational decisions on appropriate policy responses to the climate change problem. The fellowship represents a tremendous opportunity to advance climate change research at the Laboratory."

Santer received the award in the climate change research category. He is one of the world's leading scientists in the identification of anthropogenic, or human-caused, climate change in both observations and climate model simulations. "His work is marked by its depth and insight and he is known for thoroughly exhausting all avenues in his pursuit of a solid answer or conclusion," the citation states.

His achievements include:

  • Pioneering use of novel pattern-based statistical techniques, called "fingerprint" methods, to identify human-caused changes in greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosol particles in observational surface temperature records.
  • Analysis of tropospheric temperatures and the height of the stratosphere-troposphere boundary, showing that accurate model simulations of climate change require inclusion of radiative forcing from human activities.
  • Contributions to the periodic Scientific Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

"I believe that climate change will be a significant problem for our country," Santer said. "The national labs are the right place to do integrated science research. I'm really honored that DOE considers me worthy of this award. I consider it an award not only for myself, but also for my colleagues at PCMDI and at research institutions around the world."

In his career, Santer has received several honors, awards and fellowships including the "Genius Award" by the MacArthur Foundation and the E.O. Lawrence Award.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a mission to ensure national security and apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.