Royal Meteorological Society unveils award winners for 2021

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The Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) has announced the award and prize winners for 2021.

The Royal Meteorological Awards recognize people and teams who have made exceptional contributions relating to weather, climate and associated disciplines and are considered one of the most prestigious accolades in meteorology, with a history dating back to 1901.

Among those recognized this year is Professor Andrew Lorenc for his expertise in data assimilation for numerical weather prediction and the significant influence he has had on generations of young scientists, both in the UK and worldwide.

Also celebrated are Dr Hazel Thornton, who brings together key decision-makers to look at winter contingency planning in the UK energy sector, and Professor Michael Montgomery for his work in understanding tropical cyclones as they become more frequent with human-induced climate change. The list of award and prize winners are:

The Buchan Prize – Professor Michael T Montgomery, Naval Postgraduate School

RMetS said, “Understanding and predicting tropical cyclones will become increasingly acute in the coming century as climate change puts increasing amounts of weather fuel into the atmosphere. Regarded as one of the great pioneers in contemporary tropical cyclone science, Dr Montgomery has made seminal contributions to understanding many theoretical aspects of these storms with outstanding insight and deep knowledge.”

The L F Richardson Prize – Dr Beth Woodhams, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research – Troposphere Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Woodhams was recognized for her impressive contribution to the sector’s understanding of the atmospheric processes controlling convective storms and their predictability in weather forecast models. RMetS said, “To gain so much insight from only two research flights is a fantastic achievement for any scientist, particularly for someone so early in their career with no prior experience of research flights.”

The FitzRoy Prize – Dr Hazel Thornton, Met Office

Dr Thornton was awarded for many years of research, co-development and delivery of climate services for the energy sector. Working with colleagues from BEIS, major energy infrastructure such as National Grid and private energy suppliers, Dr Thornton has initiated monthly briefings and invited all major UK energy players to attend. These are now a regular feature of winter contingency planning in the UK energy sector, with over 50 recipients from across the industry attending each winter.

The Climate Science Communications Award – Professor Dan Lunt, University of Bristol

Awarded in recognition of the combination of Lunt’s groundbreaking work in paleoclimate modeling and his novel and exciting way of communicating the science of the climate. By engaging on digital channels with accessible, yet informative, descriptions and animations of how climate models work, Lunt has successfully communicated how changes in a planet’s key attributes alter its climate. Work includes founding the EGU journal Geoscientific Model Development and engaging with fantasy fiction to model the climate of fantasy worlds such as Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Game of Thrones.

The Society’s Outstanding Service Award – Michael Wood, retired

Wood was chair of the Royal Meteorological Society’s History Group between 1999 and 2005. He then served as treasurer until stepping down in September 2021. RMetS said, “He has given sterling service to this Special Interest Group for around 30 years, including talks and presentations to numerous meetings of the group and looking after and contributing to the group’s Newsletter. His wry observations on ideas were a valuable ‘sense-check’ for everyone in the group.”

The Gordon Manley Weather Prize – Rebecca Venton CMet FRMetS, consultant

RMetS said, “Since joining the weather editorial board, Venton has wholly rejuvenated the role of the book reviews editor. Her successful acquisition of a vast number of reviews of relevant titles, linking them to recent Special Issues (e.g. COP26), with rapid turnaround times, has significantly helped the journal. She has also helped secure special discounts on selected titles for members and reviewed several research articles. Under her leadership, the review process for books is now a smooth and seamless operation.”

The Malcolm Walker Award – Chloe Brimicombe, University of Reading and European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

RMetS said, “Chloe is an outstanding researcher undertaking timely and world-class scientific research on heatwave health hazard forecasting. She has also developed the Thermofeel Heat stress software at ECMWF, now being implemented in their meteorological forecasting systems, and has published on the unacceptable deficiencies in UK heatwave policy. What makes Chloe stand out is her ability to communicate her research and the climate emergency passionately and knowledgeably to the public, media, schools, policy and decision makers, and the academic community. She even runs art and poetry outreach events.”

Honorary Fellow – Professor Andrew Lorenc, Met Office

RMetS said, “As the UK’s leading expert in data assimilation for numerical weather prediction, and one of the leading experts in the world in this field, almost since the subject was invented, his achievements and influence have been immense. Andrew has had a considerable impact on generations of young scientists, both in the UK and worldwide.”

The Adrian Gill Prize and Mason Gold Medal were not awarded.

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Dan first joined UKi Media & Events in 2014 having spent the early years of his career in the recruitment industry. As editor, he now produces content for Meteorological Technology International, unearthing the latest technological advances and research methods for the publication of each exciting new issue. When he’s not reporting on the latest meteorological news, Dan can be found on the golf course or apprehensively planning his next DIY project.

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