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Four STAR Scientists Receive 2009 Administrator's Awards

28 August 2009 - Dr. Jane Lubchenco today announced the winners of the 2009 Administrator's and Technology Transfer Awards. The Administrator's Award recognizes significant contributions to NOAA programs in equal employment opportunity, diversity, scientific research, public service, engineering development, environmental conservation, policy development, administrative support, public affairs, and information systems. STAR is very proud of this year's award winners and the innovative and groundbreaking work for which they are being recognized.

photo: Jeffrey Keyphoto: Pablo Clemente-Colónphoto: Fuzhong Wengphoto: Yong Han

Jeff Key, Pablo Clemente-Colón, Fuzhong Weng and Yong Han
STAR Recipients of the 2009 NOAA Administrators' Awards


Dr. Pablo Clemente-Colón and Dr. Jeffrey Key's Award

For scientific leadership and excellence in support of domestic and international polar observing activities during the International Polar Year.

U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy and the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent side by side. photo credit: NOAAPolar regions are of great environmental and socioeconomic importance. They are a sentinel for climate change. Significant natural (oil and gas) and living marine (commercial fisheries, marine mammals) resources are found in these regions. Dr. Pablo Clemente-Colón and Dr. Jeffrey Key demonstrated significant scientific leadership and made many important polar science contributions during the International Polar Year (IPY). IPY, March 2007 to March 2009, was an international scientific program focused on the polar regions. IPY will have a lasting impact on our ability to monitor and understand the polar regions, particularly in the context of climate change. Drs. Clemente-Colón and Key led complex polar observing coordination and support activities across numerous domestic and foreign agencies and entities to support goals of the International Polar Year and the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.

Dr. Key built national and international coordination by leading the development of an international cryosphere observing strategy, achieving a consensus of over 100 scientists in 17 nations on the way forward for polar observations. The result of their work, detailed in the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) Cryosphere Theme Report, provides NOAA, NASA, and GEOSS with guidance regarding gaps in the space- and surface- based observing networks and identified partnerships that will ultimately benefit the U.S. government financially and scientifically.

Dr. Clemente-Colón, as Chief Scientist at the National Ice Center (NIC), developed and led a landmark multinational Arctic symposium in July 2007 titled "Impact of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations" with high-level participants from the U.S. government, industry, and international partners with polar science and commerce interests. A follow-on symposium was held this year. The symposium opened and strengthened lines of communication across U.S. government agencies and between U.S. and Canadian agencies to address issues relating to naval operations and national strategic issues, commercial shipping, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, fisheries, environmental protection, and oceanographic research in an opening Arctic. This symposium and its associated efforts have helped mobilize support for ratifying the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Yong Han, Fuzhong Weng, and John Derber's Award

For improving the accuracy of weather forecasts by developing new and powerful radiative transfer models and techniques to assimilate advanced satellite data.

The current weather conditions are the starting point for all computer weather prediction models, and satellite observations provide most of the needed data. But satellites do not measure weather variables directly. They measure reflected sunlight and emitted heat radiation from the earth at different spectral wavelengths. The intensity and spectral distribution of this radiation depends on important weather variables, for example, atmospheric temperature, humidity, cloudiness, precipitation, and surface properties. A radiative transfer model is the glue that connects the remote satellite observations to the weather conditions. It is a complex numerical model that, given surface and atmospheric conditions, permits calculation of the radiation, and, given measurements of the radiation, enables extraction of information on the surface and atmosphere. The radiative transfer model must not only be accurate but must be fast enough to enable assimilation of millions of satellite observations in a matter of minutes.

The nominees were challenged to develop new and powerful radiative transfer models and techniques to assimilate advanced satellite data into the NWS/NCEP global forecast system to meet NOAA's mission goals for serving society's need for weather and water information.

With strong collaboration between NESDIS and NWS, as well as support from JCSDA and external community scientists, the nominees developed, tested and implemented the community radiative transfer model (CRTM) into the NWS/NCEP global forecast system (GFS) in the extraordinarily short period of 1-2 years. The new capabilities to assimilate the advanced hyperspectral IR observations and more atmospheric observations over land have resulted in large positive impacts on weather forecasts, increasing forecast accuracy and extending the useful range of medium range predictions by almost half a day. This translates to improved accuracy, lead time, and false alarm rates in tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, winter storm warnings, Atlantic hurricane forecasts, 3-day precipitation, marine wind and wave forecasts.