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Climate scientists share Tyler Prize

18 Feb 2019 Liz Kalaugher
Photo of Warren Washington and Michael Mann
Warren Washington (left) and Michael Mann are this year's recipients of the Tyler Prize. (Image courtesy: Joshua Yospyn)

The 2019 Tyler Prize has been awarded to climate scientists Warren Washington of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research and Michael Mann of Penn State University, US.

“One of the things that makes this award special for me is sharing it with a personal hero of mine, Warren Washington…who has contributed fundamentally to the field of climate modelling,” says Mann.

Washington helped build one of the first computer models of Earth’s climate. “Dr Washington has been a pioneering climate scientist for over 40 years,” says John Shepherd, former deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. “Much of what is known about the Earth’s climate system and climate modeling is directly traceable to [his] lifelong work.”

Mann is perhaps most famous for his work on reconstructing past climate and his “hockey-stick” graph. He received “intense public scrutiny”, as the Tyler Prize press release puts it, then “chose not to retreat to the lab, but instead doubled-down on his efforts to make climate change science accessible to the public”.

“Professor Mann did not choose the easy way out,” says Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University, US, author of the book Merchants of Doubt. “For his courage in the face of this challenge, Mike Mann is not just a great scientist, but also a hero.”

“This award means a lot to me because it recognizes the two things that are most near and dear when it comes to my work and that’s contributing both to the advancement of our science and the effort to communicate that science to the public and policymakers,” says Mann.

Some refer to the $200,000 Tyler Prize, which was founded in 1973 by the late John and Alice Tyler, as the “Nobel Prize for the environment”. The prize covers environmental science, environmental health and energy. Previous winners include climate scientists Richard Alley, Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Roger Revelle, biologist Edward O. Wilson, primatologist Jane Goodall and conservation biologists Anne Ehrlich and Paul Ehrlich.

Washington and Mann will give a public lecture on their work in San Francisco on May 2nd and receive their prize at a ceremony the following day.

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