Former NOAA scientist Kirk Bryan Jr., Ph.D, has been named winner of the 2023 Nationwide Academy of Science’s (NAS) Alexander Agassiz Medal for his pioneering work in oceanography and local weather science.
Bryan is widely known because the founding father of numerical ocean modeling, and his work within the late Sixties at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey led to the first-of-its-kind basic circulation local weather mannequin – combining each oceanic and atmospheric processes to deliver forth insights into how the ocean and ambiance work together with one another to affect local weather. The mannequin additionally predicted how modifications within the pure components that management local weather corresponding to ocean and atmospheric currents and temperature may result in local weather change. The mannequin nonetheless stands in the present day as a breakthrough of monumental significance for local weather science and climate forecasting and was foundational to present ocean fashions. Earlier data of the oceanic and atmospheric circulation, and their interactions, was based mostly purely on idea and statement.
“Kirk Bryan needed to study to simulate the circulation of fluids within the difficult geometry of the World Ocean,” stated Steve Thur, Ph.D, NOAA’s assistant administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Analysis. “His work primarily helped us to see how the ocean influences local weather and likewise perceive how our local weather was altering.”
The work was particularly spectacular given the computing limitations of the day. The pc used to develop and run the primary mannequin Bryan developed ran with simply half a megabyte of reminiscence—not sufficient to retailer a contemporary high-resolution digital image in 2023. In distinction, the fashionable supercomputer at GFDL gives greater than 100,000 occasions the computing energy of that early machine.
Joseph Smagorinsky, founding director of GFDL, with Kirk Bryan (seated on left in chair) and his analysis companion, Syukuro “Suki” Manabe (standing), discussing a paper they have been writing on the coupled atmosphere-ocean mannequin in 1969. Credit score: NOAA
“When my profession started, the tendency was to explain the ambiance in roughly qualitative phrases, tracing water plenty round from one a part of the ocean to a different,” Bryan stated. “I’m enormously pleased with the work we did to increase the quantitative data of issues, and happy to just accept this award and grateful to have our breakthroughs acknowledged this manner.”
Bryan led the GFDL Ocean Division from 1961 till his retirement in 1995. In 2006, the journal Nature cited GFDL’s unique local weather mannequin amongst different breakthroughs of their record of milestones in scientific computing which have had a profound impact on society, together with improvements corresponding to the primary CT scanner, the primary hand-held scientific calculator, and the Web.
The Alexander Agassiz Medal is barely introduced as soon as each 5 years and honors unique contributions within the science of oceanography. The award features a medal and a $20,000 prize and shall be introduced in the course of the NAS one hundred and sixtieth Annual Assembly on April 30 at 2:00pm Jap and shall be webcast reside. Extra info could be discovered on the NAS web site.
Media Contact: Alison Gillespie, email@example.com, 202-713-6644