Dr. Jagadish Shukla, Professor and Chair of the Climate Dynamics Program at George Mason University and President of the Institute of Global Environment and Society has been awarded the 52nd International Meteorological Organization (IMO) Prize by the Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The IMO prize is awarded annually for outstanding work in meteorology and is considered the highest international award in the field. Previous winners have included well-known scientists from around the globe, notably Lennart Bengtsson (2006), Shukla’s long-time collaborator, as well as Jule Charney (1971) and Edward Lorenz (2000), Shukla's advisers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his ScD in 1976. The prize winner is selected from among those nominated by the permanent representatives of WMO members. The prize includes a gold medal and a monetary award.
Shukla received his Ph.D. from Benaras Hindu University, India and his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA. He has received the Walker Gold Medal of the Indian Meteorological Society, the Carl Gustav Rossby Research Medal from the American Meteorological Society, and the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a Fellow of the Indian Meteorological Society and an Associate Fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences. He is currently a member of the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Program of the World Meteorological Organization and a Commissioner in the Virginia Governor’s Commission on Climate Change.
Dr Shukla has been associated with the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) since its inception 26 years ago. At that time, Dr. Shukla was involved in research on coupled ocean-atmosphere models that could already skillfully predict one of the most important boundary forcings, namely the sea surface temperature. One of the most successful international research programs under the WCRP in which Shukla was closely involved was the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) project, the first coupled atmosphere-ocean initiative. TOGA began in 1984 and led to major breakthroughs in operational seasonal forecasting because it laid the physical basis for understanding and predicting world-wide anomalies in the global atmospheric circulation and the temperature and precipitation patterns linked to El Niño.
As TOGA came to its end in 1994, Dr Shukla supported the proposal to extend TOGA research from the tropical oceans to the global oceans, and to include land-surface processes became the Global Ocean Atmosphere Land System (GOALS) program. WCRP’s core project on Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) followed a year later in 1995.
Since 2001, Dr Shukla has been a member of the WCRP Joint Scientific Committee (JSC), and Chair of the WCRP Modeling Panel, which promotes, coordinates and integrates modeling activities. Scientific contributions include research on monsoon dynamics, deforestation, desertification, tropical predictability and climate variability.
Shukla founded the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA), a premier scientific research center devoted to developing an improved understanding of climate variability and predictability on intraseasonal to decadal time scales within a changing climate. The COLA scientists make major contributions to the independent evaluation of the Nation’s leading models for climate change, provide leadership within the research community working toward improved prediction of climate, and highly valued and widely used information technology infrastructure for the efficient exchange of climate model and observational data. COLA scientists were the first to suggest the use of numerical weather prediction models to reanalyze past observations of the atmosphere and oceans to produce climate research data sets. They have advocated the importance of land-atmosphere interactions in climate variability as well as the existence of predictability for monthly and seasonal time scales. The group has made significant contributions to the understanding of the predictability of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation and has contributed to the advancement of the practice of seasonal prediction.
Shukla is a distinguished university professor in the College of Science (COS) and chair of the Climate Dynamics department. The COS is the primary academic unit of George Mason University (GMU) that plays the central role in undergraduate and graduate education and research in the physical, biological, mathematical, and computational sciences.
Shukla was instrumental in the creation of the weather and climate research group at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy and led the group’s activities from their inception until 1997. He was the scientific leader who helped establish the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting in New Delhi, India and he helped in the establishment of several research institutions in the USA and abroad. He helped establish the Gandhi College in his birth village of Mirdha, India, for the education of rural students in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh.
The IMO Prize was awarded at the annual meeting of the WMO held in Geneva in May 2007, and bestowed on Shukla in a ceremony at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences on 28 March 2008. (See photos of the event.)