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Professor Adam Scaife

Leading climate scientist wins prestigious award

A world-leading climate scientist from the University of Exeter has received a prestigious award in recognition of his pioneering and innovative research.

Professor Adam Scaife, of the University’s Mathematics department, has been awarded the Edward Appleton Medal by the Institute of Physics (IOP), for his pivotal work on computer simulation and long-range prediction of the atmosphere.

The honour, which is given for distinguished contributions to environmental, Earth or atmospheric physics was announced today (October 29th 2020).

Speaking of the award, Professor Scaife said: “I’m elated and honoured to receive the Edward Appleton Medal for my research and it’s great that the IoP recognise climate simulation and prediction as an important area of Physics.”

Professor Adam Scaife’s work on computer simulation and long-range prediction of the atmosphere combines deep physical insight with a practical outlook and he is internationally recognised for his research on mechanisms and modelling of climate variability.

Professor Scaife has made numerous advances in climate simulation and prediction  -clarifying the influence of El Niño on Atlantic climate after many years of unclear results; improving simulation of atmospheric blocking via improved ocean modelling and reduced jet stream biases and demonstrating how solar variability influences climate after amplification and phase shifting by ocean ‘memory’ effects.

He also co-discovered climate change in the mass circulation between the troposphere and stratosphere, was the first to successfully simulate the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation in a climate model using parametrized gravity waves and later showed how stratospheric processes modulate future climate change, doubling the risk of extreme regional rainfall.

The citation for the prestigious award read: “Professor Scaife’s subsequent contributions to our understanding of climate predictability are outstanding. He recently demonstrated high levels of skill in winter forecasts for Europe, including extreme weather such as winter storms. This work is highly cited and highly regarded. It also facilitates many practical applications, now demonstrated in numerous papers.

“He is an international leader in meteorological science and co-chairs the World Climate Research Programme’s Grand Challenge on near term climate prediction. He has built and inspired a group of around 25 climate scientists, placing the UK in a world–class position for long-range prediction.

“His record in science communication is exemplary, including public media and learned societies and the popular science book ‘30s Weather’. Adam’s research has energized the topic of long-range forecasting.”

Date: 29 October 2020

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