Scripps Scientists Honored by American Geophysical Union


As the American Geophysical Union (AGU) prepares for its annual Fall Meeting, three scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego will receive top honors from the international organization of scientists in the Earth and space sciences.

Scripps Oceanography glaciologist Helen Amanda Fricker and atmospheric chemist Lynn Russell have been elected AGU Fellows. They are among 61 researchers from around the country who will be honored at the Fall Meeting, which takes place Dec. 11-15 in New Orleans.

In describing the fellowship, AGU states that “nominated fellows must have attained acknowledged eminence in the Earth and space sciences.” 

Fricker leads the Glaciology group at Scripps and her research focuses on ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland and their role in the climate system. She is widely recognized for her discovery of active subglacial lakes and for her innovative research into Antarctic ice shelf mass budget processes such as iceberg calving and basal melting and freezing.

AGU cited Fricker specifically for “advances in the understanding of Antarctic ice sheets, ice shelves, and subglacial hydrologic systems.” Fricker has also received the NASA Group Achievement Award for her role in the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) Mission development team and was awarded the Martha Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica from SCAR in 2010.

Russell is a professor of atmospheric chemistry at Scripps, where she has led the Atmospheric Aerosols Group since 2003. Her research is in the area of aerosol particle chemistry, including the behavior of particles from both biogenic and combustion processes. Her research has combined modeling and measurement studies to advance our understanding of processes that produce atmospheric aerosols and that control aerosol effects on clouds.  

AGU acknowledged Russell for “pioneering contributions to the fundamental science of organic aerosols through innovative theory, instrumentation, measurements, and modeling.” She was named Fellow of the American Association of Aerosol Research in 2014, who recognized her earlier work with the Whitby Award in 2003. She also has been honored with young investigator awards from ONR, NASA, Dreyfus Foundation, NSF, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

In addition to the honors going to Fricker and Russell, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Richard Somerville is one of three scientists being recognized by the American Geophysical Union with its Ambassador Award. This award is given in recognition of “outstanding contributions to one or more of the following areas: societal impact, service to the Earth and space community, scientific leadership, and promotion of talent/career pool.”

Somerville, a professor at Scripps since 1979, is a theoretical meteorologist and an expert on climate modeling. He was a coordinating lead author for the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Somerville was also an organizer and signatory of the 2007 Bali Declaration by Climate Scientists and the 2009 Copenhagen Diagnosis. These reports were aimed at injecting science into international climate negotiations. Somerville is a member of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is an advisor of the Aspen Global Change Institute and of Climate Communication, a non-profit science and outreach project.

Somerville formally retired in 2007 but remains active, especially in education and communication. In 2008, he published a new edition of his popular book, The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change. This book won the Louis J. Battan Author's Award of the American Meteorological Society. Somerville is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society. The American Geophysical Union also awarded him its 2015 Climate Communication Prize, which "highlights the importance of promoting scientific literacy, clarity of message, and efforts to foster respect and understanding of science-based values as they relate to the implications of climate change."

The award ceremony honoring all three scientists takes place Dec. 13, 2017.


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