Scripps Climate Researcher to Receive Top Honor from Alma Mater


Richard Somerville, a distinguished professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State University, the school's highest honor bestowed on individuals.

The university recognized Somerville in its citation "for his distinguished career as an atmospheric scientist and his contributions to the field of climate change science."

The award will be presented June 4 on the Penn State campus in University Park, Pa. "

I am greatly honored to receive this award," Somerville said, "and it comes on an important anniversary too. This year marks 50 years since my graduation from Penn State, which makes the award indeed very special to me."

Somerville's interest in meteorology began when he was 10 years old and read his first book on the subject. His journey as a self-described weather buff led to a career studying meteorology and atmospheric phenomena. In addition, Somerville has also been a noted commentator on climate change science and has authored a popular book on the subject: The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change. A revised and updated edition of this award-winning book was published in 2008. A revised and upated edition of The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change was published in 2008. A revised and upated edition of The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change was published in 2008. Somerville also served on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and in 2007, was a coordinating lead author of Working Group 1 of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, which presented a synthesis of climate change research up to that time.

The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Additionally, Somerville has been a signatory to several public statements by leading climate change scientists, such as the Bali Declaration in 2007 and the Copenhagen Diagnosis in 2009. Somerville earned his bachelor's degree in meteorology in 1961 from the Department of Meteorology in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State. After receiving his Ph.D. in meteorology from New York University in 1966, he held postdoctoral appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Washington, D.C. and Princeton, N.J. Before Scripps, he also held research positions at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City and again at NCAR. Somerville joined Scripps Oceanography in 1979 as a professor of meteorology and was the first atmospheric science professor on the Scripps faculty.

He formally retired in 2007 and is now a distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at Scripps. He remains active in research, education and outreach. He divides his time between residences in Carlsbad, Calif. and southern France, from where he communicates with his research collaborators and his Scripps graduate student advisees via email and Skype.

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