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July 3rd, 2008
Scripps Climate Researcher Awarded Major Environmental Prize

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V. Ramanathan, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego
professor of climate and atmospheric science and a pioneer of climate
change research, received the Zayed International Prize for the
Environment from the United Arab Emirates government in a recent
ceremony.
The award recognizes and promotes “major pioneering contributions in
the field of environment and sustainable development, in accordance
with the development philosophy and vision of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin
Sultan Al Nahyan,” the U.A.E.’s former president, according to the
government prize committee. Ramanathan shared a $300,000 prize with
Oregon State University researcher Jane Lubchenco in the award’s
category for scientific or technological achievement. The ceremony took
place June 9 in Dubai.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this
award,” said Ramanathan. “With the Zayed Prize, the U.A.E. demonstrates
a solid commitment to creating a sustainable environment.”

Ramanathan,
who joined Scripps in 1990, has been making groundbreaking observations
of climate, the role of greenhouse gases and of aerosols, especially
soot and other forms of black carbon, since the mid-1970s. In 1975, he
discovered the greenhouse effect of chlorofluorocarbons and other gases
and predicted in 1980 that carbon dioxide-induced global warming would
be detected by 2000.

Additionally, in a series of ambitious
field campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s, Ramanathan demonstrated the
positive amplifying effect of water vapor absorption on global warming
and the global cooling effects of clouds on climate.

More
recently, he made significant contributions to the discovery of the
widespread atmospheric brown clouds ( ABC ) phenomenon. He showed that
soot in the clouds led to a reduction in the solar radiation at the
ocean surface, heating of the atmosphere and regional climate change in
South Asia.

Ramanathan’s team revolutionized the gathering of
atmospheric data in 2006 when the researchers first successfully
deployed autonomous unmanned aircraft in the Maldives AUAV Campaign (
MAC ). Miniaturized instruments on the aircraft, which typically flew
in formations of three, measured a range of properties such as the
quantity and size of the aerosols upon which cloud droplets form. The
instruments also recorded variables such as temperature, humidity and
the intensity of light that permeates clouds and masses of smog. It was
the first time such comprehensive measurements were made at a cost that
was very low relative to traditional manned flights.

The
research team is currently using the aircraft in a study of Southern
California air pollution and will deploy them to monitor Chinese
pollution emissions before, during and after the summer Olympic Games
in Beijing, which begin Aug. 8.

Ramanathan is a member of the
National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, The
Academy of Sciences for Developing Countries ( TWAS ), and the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Lubchenco, the 2003 recipient of
Scripps’s Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest, is the
Wayne and Gladys Valley Professor of Marine Biology and a professor of
zoology at Oregon State University. The award cited her discovery of
fundamental ecological and evolutionary relationships among animals and
plants in complex coastal systems and her study of the effect of
aquaculture on world fish supplies.

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