ESRL Quarterly Newsletter - Fall 2010

Sammie for Solomon

In recognition of pioneering work that altered the course of atmospheric research, ESRL senior scientist Susan Solomon (CSD) was awarded the Career Achievement Service to America medal September 15.

“It’s been a privilege doing science to serve the American public, and receiving this wonderful award is one of the most humbling experiences of my life,” said Solomon.

Solomon is the second NOAA scientist to win a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal, or “Sammie.” In 2008, Eddie Bernard, director of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, won for his work in establishing an international tsunami detection and forecast system.

“At NOAA, I am proud to say that our standards for achievement are quite high. We have a team of scientists who are consistently producing awe-inspiring and important work. They provide much of the knowledge we need to address many of our world’s environmental challenges,” said Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “But Susan exceeds anyone’s standards. The nation has benefited from her three decades at NOAA, and we celebrate her accomplishments.”

Solomon is best known for her groundbreaking work identifying the cause of the ozone hole. She and her colleagues showed that this ozone depletion is caused by unusual chemistry involving human-made chlorofluorocarbons that occurs under the extremely cold conditions of Antarctica. Solomon’s work was one of the scientific cornerstones on which the international Montreal Protocol was built, which curbed the use of ozone-destroying substances.

“Science is there to inform, but the choices of what to do are up to all of us,” Solomon often says, referring to how science is used to make an important policy decision.

Solomon recently led a key study focused on global warming. The research demonstrated how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide emissions are completely stopped.

In 2002, she was elected co-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that published The Physical Science Basis in 2007. The IPCC was a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize that year.