PSD Staff Awarded DOC Bronze Medals
February 16, 2017
The NOAA ESRL Physical Sciences Division (PSD), along with the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) and the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, has been awarded a 2017 U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal "For rapidly implementing and supporting a complex, multi-platform, multi-organizational field campaign to observe a rare, high-intensity El Niño event."
El Niño events are rare and can cause significant disruptions to typical mid-latitude weather patterns, which can in turn trigger unusually severe weather conditions across the United States. These events are difficult to predict with any certainty because the underlying physical processes are not well understood. An improved understanding of these processes would lead to better predictions and a more effective public response, minimizing threats to life and damage to property. Because of the potential for an historic El Niño event in 2016, PSD led an effort and committed resources, scientific expertise, and personnel to coordinate and implement the El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign (ENRR).
During this field campaign, the research team gathered a wealth of atmospheric data above the Central and Eastern Pacific Ocean, including 628 soundings from a NOAA G-IV aircraft (22 flights), 90 soundings from the NASA Global Hawk (3 flights), 196 soundings from the NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown, 126 soundings from Kiritimati Island, as well as West Coast surface meteorological and coastal radar data. These data will be used to help researchers better characterize atmospheric responses to El Niño over the tropical ocean, and to increase understanding of atmospheric tropical-extratropical linkages during an El Niño event with the goal of improving the prediction of extreme weather events over the U.S.
Also receiving a 2017 U.S. Department of Commerce Bronze Medal is PSD researcher Dr. Michael Alexander. He is part of a team being honored "For successful completion in NOAA of the first Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment of fish and invertebrates." The study examined 82 species that occur off the Northeastern U.S., where ocean warming is occurring rapidly. It was the first in a series of similar evaluations planned for fishery species in U.S. regions. Alexander is a research meteorologist at PSD whose main research interests currently include air-sea-ice interactions, processes that influence moisture transport and heavy precipitation the western United States, and climate change including its impact on marine ecosystems.
The awards will presented at a ceremony on May 23, 2017, at NOAA’s Silver Spring headquarters.