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NASA Scientist Receives Inaugural Climate Communications Award

Gavin Schmidt

Goddard Institute for Space Studies climate scientist Gavin Schmidt.
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Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist based at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, has received the inaugural Climate Communications Prize from the American Geophysical Union, the largest association of Earth and planetary scientists in the world. The $25,000 prize will be awarded at the group's fall meeting in San Francisco this December.

Despite the rancor that often surrounds public discussions of climate change science, Schmidt has become one of NASA's most valued and relentless science communicators. He is regularly quoted by leading newspaper and magazine journalists, frequently lends his time and expertise at public events, and has appeared on numerous television shows. In his spare time, he blogs at the widely read website RealClimate and has published a popular book about climate change.

"The value of science is only fully realized when it has been effectively communicated," noted NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati, an Earth scientist who specializes in studying the frozen regions of the planet. "For years, Gavin has been committed to communicating facts about an area of science that is of enormous societal importance. In an environment that is often laden with inaccurate and hyperbolic claims, Gavin has been a clear, consistent, and honest voice," he said.

Schmidt's scientific research centers on understanding what drives variability in the climate system. He often uses large-scale models of the atmosphere and ocean to simulate past and future climate conditions.

"Gavin Schmidt has an unusual ability to explain the complexities of climate change in a manner that is accessible to non-scientists. He also has an unusual ability to speak and exchange points of view in the highly charged social and political environment of climate change. We are thrilled that his abilities in this area have been recognized by this award," said Peter Hildebrand, the director of the Earth Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

"Within the scientific community everybody knows that we've made great strides in understanding how and why the climate is changing, but public understanding of what we've learned hasn't kept up. We have to keep at this and continue explaining the science until it sinks in," said Schmidt. "I am surprised and humbled by the award, and I hope this type of recognition inspires many of my colleagues to speak up as well," he said.

The prize is sponsored by Nature's Own, a Boulder, Colo.-based company.

Related Links

+ Gavin Schmidt Bio

+ Video Clips of Gavin Schmidt

+ Gavin Schmidt Discusses the Surface Temperature Record

+ Five Questions with Gavin Schmidt

This article was originally prepared by Adam Voiland as a NASA Portal NASA People news feature.