ESRL Awards


CO-LABS Governor's Award for High-Impact Research

Two researchers from NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory received the CO-LABS Governor's Award for High Impact Research:

  • Dr. Pieter Tans – For work in Atmospheric Sciences for the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. Tans and team developed and sustained the careful and continuous collection of atmospheric observations to create a long-term record of atmospheric trace gases that is helping scientists around the globe understand the Earth system and how humans are changing the dynamics of the climate on the Earth.
  • Klaus Wolter – For his work in Sustainability for Helping Colorado Plan for Drought. Wolter has researched connections between the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and drought, and applied his expertise to support water resource management and drought planning in the state of Colorado and throughout the Southwest.

California DWR Climate Science Service Award

Marty Ralph and Allen White were presented with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) 2013 Climate Science Service Award for the ESRL Physical Sciences Division's role in developing and implementing a cooperative partnership between HMT and DWR's Enhanced Flood Response and Emergency Preparedness program to design and install a 21st century observing system for extreme precipitation in California.


CO-LABS Governor's Award for High-Impact Research

Thomas Ryerson, Joost de Gouw, and researchers from NOAA and CIRES were honored for their work in amtospheric science. The researchers joined toegether to form the Deepwater Horizon Atmospheric Science Team that under urgent circumstances assessed the potential air quality risks posed by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The team calculated independent estimates of the oil leak rate and analyzed the fate of the leaked oil in the environment. Using NOAA research aircraft, they also were able to advance scientific understanding of the chemistry of the atmosphere in the unique environment.

NOAA Research Employee of the Year

  • David K. Himes was posthumously awarded the 2012 NOAA Research Employee of the Year (Individual) for his work developing and sustaining Science on a Sphere┬«.
  • The Benjamin Group of ESRL/GSD, headed by Stan Benjamin, was honored as the NOAA Research Employee of the Year (Group) "for the development, integration, and transition of the next generation of NOAA's hourly North American prediction, a foundation for realizing NOAA's 'Weather Ready Nation' strategies as well as position NOAA for emerging service areas."

NOAA Bronze Medal

Jeffrey S. Whitaker and Thomas M. Hamill received a NOAA Bronze Medal Award for excellence in research and development of ensemble-based and hybrid data assimilation techniques that improve operational weather forecasts.


NOAA Administrator's Award

Seth I. Gutman was the recipient of the NOAA Administrator's Award for "long-term leadership in establishing a national ground-based GPS observing network for measuring and monitoring atmospheric water vapor."


OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards

The Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards were established to recognize the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) researchers who published outstanding, peer-reviewed literature. Their research has made or has the potential to make significant contributions to products and services that protect life and property and promote sustainable economic growth. Winners of the 2010 OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards from ESRL are:

WEATHER AND WATER: Modeling Arctic Clouds to Improve Accuracy in Simulations of Snow and Ice Conditions in Clouds

  • Amy Solomon, Ola Persson, Matthew Shupe, and Jian-Wen Bao of ESRL's Physical Sciences Division, along with Hugh Morrison at the National Center for Atmospheric Research are honored for their work modeling Arctic clouds. Their results fill critical gaps in our understanding of how to accurately simulate snow and ice conditions in cloud formations. Published in the Monthly Weather Review and the team used direct measurements provided by a Department of Energy experiment over the North Slope of Alaska to verify model outputs. This comparison allowed them to fine-tune the models, improving the way we understand the physics of water in Arctic stratoculmulus clouds. As Arctic conditions are examined in the face of aerosol emissions and global climate change, the results of this study will allow for more accurate model forecasts of variability in the region.


Department of Commerce Silver Medal for Scientific/Engineering Achievement

The second highest honorary award granted by the Secretary, a Silver Medal is awarded for exceptional performance characterized by noteworthy or superlative contributions which have a direct and lasting impact within the Department. Two groups of OAR employees earned Silver Medals in the area of Scientific/Engineering Achievement for 2009. The ESRL recipients are:

  • Dr. Robert S. Webb, Physical Scientist (ESRL/PSD)
  • Dr. Mary C. Penland De Garcia, Physical Scientist (ESRL/PSD)
  • Dr. Rik Wanninkhof, Oceanographer (AOML)
  • Dr. Mark Eakin, Oceanographer (NESDIS)
  • Ms. Lauri Maclaughlin, Sanctuary Resource Specialist (NOS)
This group is recognized "for providing timely ocean information and capacity for improved global monitoring and management of coral reef ecosystems relative to climate change."

OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards

The Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards were established to recognize the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) researchers who published outstanding, peer-reviewed literature. Their research has made or has the potential to make significant contributions to products and services that protect life and property and promote sustainable economic growth. Winners of the 2009 OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards from ESRL include:

WEATHER AND WATER: Atmospheric Rivers

  • Paul Neiman, Marty Ralph, and Gary Wick of ESRL's Physical Sciences Division and their colleagues at the University of Washington and Scripps Institute of Oceanography are being honored for their study on atmospheric rivers – long, narrow plumes of water vapor that travel toward the South and North Poles, which impact snow and rain patterns along the west coast of North America. The study, published in the Journal of Hydrometeorology described for the first time how these "rivers" are increasing snowfall in the winter and decreasing rainfall in the spring. The findings are expected to improve weather forecasting and flood prediction, water management and policy.

CLIMATE: Influence of Carbonyl Sulfide on Climate

  • Stephen Montzka, Bradley Hall, James Elkins, Thomas Conway, Pieter Tans, and Colm Sweeney of ESRL Global Monitoring Division, and Paul Calvert of the CIRES have demonstrated for the first time that carbonyl sulfide (COS), a trace gas that impacts climate and stratospheric ozone levels, is closely connected to the global carbon cycle. The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, demonstrates that variations in COS appear to be tightly linked to photosynthesis. This finding offers scientists a potential new tool for improving our understanding of the carbon cycle.


Stratospheric Ozone Protection Awards

David Fahey and John Daniel are winners of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2008 Stratospheric Ozone Protection Awards. The Ozone Layer Protection Awards were founded in 1990 to recognize outstanding contributions to the protection of the Earth's stratospheric ozone layer.

Fahey and Daniel are among the authors of a groundbreaking paper published in 2007 that calculated the benefits to the climate from citizen action and the Montreal Protocol in phasing out ozone-depleting substances that are also powerful greenhouse gases. The team of five scientists found that the direct effect of the Montreal Protocol's emission reductions has been to delay climate change by 7 to 12 years. The award citation states, "This team reminds us that individuals can make a difference, that confident action can succeed under multilateral agreements like the Montreal Protocol, and that ground-breaking science can guide successful policies."

Fahey also received an individual award for his work on many aspects of stratospheric ozone depletion and the impact of aviation on ozone and climate. He has served on several international scientific assessments of ozone depletion and climate. Fahey was the lead author of "Twenty Questions and Answers About the Ozone Layer" for both the 2002 and 2006 updates of the Montreal Protocol's Science Assessment Report.


OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards

The Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards were established to recognize the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) researchers who published outstanding scientific peer-reviewed literature. Research conducted through OAR, is a driving force behind environmental products and services that protect life and property and promote sustainable economic growth. Winners of the 2007 OAR Outstanding Scientific Paper Awards from ESRL include:


  • Earth System Research Laboratory - Global Monitoring Division
    David J. Hofmann, James H. Butler, Edward J. Dlugokencky, James W. Elkins, Kenneth Masarie, Stephen A. Montzka and Pieter Tans, 2006: The role of carbon dioxide in climate forcing from 1979 to 2004: Introduction of the Annual Greenhouse Gas Index., Tellus, 58B, 614-619.
  • Earth System Research Laboratory - Chemical Sciences Division
    Owen R. Cooper, Andreas Stohl, Michael Trainer, Anne M. Thompson, Jacquelyn C. Witte, Samuel J. Oltmans, Gary Morris, Kenneth E. Pickering, James H. Crawford, Gao Chen, Ronald C. Cohen, Timothy H. Bertram, Paul J. Wooldridge, Anne E. Perring, William H. Brune, John Merrill, Jennie L. Moody, David Tarasick, Philippe Nédélec, Gerry Forbes, Michael J. Newchurch, Frank J. Schmidlin, Bryan J. Johnson Solene Turquety, Steven L. Baughcum, Xinrong Ren, Fred. C. Fehsenfeld, James F. Meagher, Nicole Spichtinger, Clyde C. Brown, Stuart A. McKeen, I. Stuart McDermid, and Thierry Leblanc, 2006: Large upper tropospheric ozone enhancements above midlatitude North America during summer: In situ evidence from the IONS and MOZAIC ozone measurement network. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111, D24S05, doi:10.1029/2006JD007306.


  • Earth System Research Laboratory - Physical Sciences Division
    F. Martin Ralph, Paul J. Meiman, Gary A. Wick, Seth I. Gutman, Michael D. Dettinger, Daniel R. Cayan, Allen B. White, 2006: Flooding on California's Russian River: Role of atmospheric rivers. Geophysical Research Letters, 33: L13801, doi:10.1029/2006GL026689.

Presidential Rank Award

Dr. Alexander E. "Sandy" MacDonald
Each year the President recognizes a distinct group of career Senior Executives with the President's Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. High-performing senior career employees are strong scientific leaders who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

Dr. Alexander E. "Sandy" MacDonald's leadership and success in technology development and transition to operations has helped make NOAA a leader in its operational systems. He is widely regarded as a visionary, who is able to both predict where science and technology are going, and to lead the way in important programs. In the last five years, Dr. MacDonald has made some extraordinary contributions to NOAA and the Nation.

He invented a new display technology, Science On a Sphere, (SOS) that visually displays global data in a truly spectacular way. His new SOS display technology was awarded a patent to the government in 2004. These popular educational systems are now in multiple museums, resulting in the education of hundreds of thousands of people on the workings of the global ocean and atmosphere.

In 2003, when OAR was without an Assistant Administrator, he led and organized a group of laboratory directors to serve as Acting Assistant Administrator (AA) and Deputy Assistant Administrator (DAA), and he served for two months as Acting AA, and another two months as Acting DAA.

Dr. MacDonald chaired the Physical and Social Sciences Task Team (PSTT) group that looked at the entire organizational and geographic structure of NOAA's research, and made recommendations that were unanimously accepted by NOAA's highest level of leadership.

In August of 2006, he became OAR's Deputy Assistant Administrator for Laboratories and Cooperative Institutes, and the first Director of Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL).

Explorers Club Award for Climate-Science Breakthroughs

Dr. Susan Solomon has been awarded the Explorers Club Award for Climate-Science Breakthroughs. The awards are presented by the president of the Explorers Club to groups of outstanding explorers who have distinguished themselves in a particular field. This year's awards theme is "Exploring Climate Change."

Solomon, a senior scientist at the ESRL's Chemical Sciences Division, is known for her climate and ozone work, including research that led to determining the chemical cause of the Antarctic "Ozone hole." Her research also helped lay the scientific foundation that led to an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that banned the use of chlorofluorocarbons, which were creating chemical reactions destructive to stratospheric ozone.

EPA Best-of-the-Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award

Dr. Daniel L. Albritton, the former Director of the Aeronomy Laboratory and ESRL Chemical Science Division, and now retired from NOAA, is one of only 31 individuals named as a recipient of the EPA's "2007 Best-of-the-Best Stratospheric Ozone Protection Awards".

The Award distinguishes the highest caliber recipients from over 500 individuals, organizations and teams who have earned annual Stratospheric Ozone Protection awards from 1990 to 2007. Dr. Albritton is honored for conducting path-breaking basic stratospheric research, integrating complex scientific findings, and explaining the science of ozone-layer depletion to policy-makers around the world in user friendly terms, thereby helping them in making well-informed decisions about protecting the ozone layer. He has led as Co-chair of the Montreal Protocol's Scientific Assessment Panel since its inception twenty years ago, communicating science-based information about the ozone layer to the Parties to the Montreal Protocol via the Panel's periodic scientific assessments of ozone depletion. Dr. Albritton received the EPA Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award in 1994. [More on International Ozone-Layer Assessments]

AGU William Bowie Medalist

Dr. Susan Solomon has been selected as 2007 William Bowie Medalist of the American Geophysical Union. The medal is awarded to Dr. Solomon in recognition of her accomplishments on several fronts:

  • For her groundbreaking scientific research on the Earth's ozone layer and climate carried out via collaborations with U.S. and international partners;
  • For synthesizing this information for the good of humanity via her work in leading the IPCC climate assessment report and in the ozone-layer assessments;
  • For her lifelong endeavors to communicate science to educators, the public, and decisionmakers; and
  • For her unselfish efforts to foster the next generation of atmospheric scientists.
The Bowie Medal is AGU's highest honor. It was established in 1939 in honor of William Bowie for his "spirit of helpfulness and friendliness in unselfish cooperative research." The award acknowledges an individual for outstanding contributions to fundamental geophysics and for unselfish cooperation in research, one of the guiding principles of AGU. William Bowie was a distinguished geodesist who was not only one of the founders of the American Geophysical Union and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics but was also an architect of international cooperation in geophysical research.

EPA Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award

Steve Montzka, Brad Hall, Jim Butler, and Jim Elkins of ESRL and Geoff Dutton of CIRES have received the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for "Measuring the effectiveness of the Montreal Protocol in Reducing Chlorine/Bromine Loading and Repairing the Ozone Layer". The award winning team reported the first measured declines in ozone depleting substances (ODS) in the troposphere in response to the controls on the production of these trace gases following the 1987 Montreal Protocol.

NOAA began monitoring stratospheric ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbon-11 and -12 gases 30 years ago from a globally dispersed network of four atmospheric baseline stations and at a site at Niwot Ridge, Colorado. The network has grown to include over 20 sampling locations and an additional 20 other trace gases of atmospheric interest.

FX-Net Project Researchers Honored

Sher Schranz and Jebb Stewart, members of the FX-Net project team, received awards in recognition of their leadership to ensure operational excellence via innovative development and maintenance of critical software for IMETS, at the annual NWS Incident Meteorologist (IMET) Workshop.

FX-Net is the core component of the NWS All Hazards Onsite Meteorological Support System, which provides real-time data to forecasters working in remote locations. FX-Net has been deployed to hundreds of fires during the last four fire weather seasons, and to other events such as Hurricane Katrina clean-up support, oil spills and national political conventions.