Tuesday, May 23, 2017

UW-Madison News Release--UW climatologist honored



CONTACT: John Kutzbach, (608) 238-0420, jek@wisc.edu

DOWNLOAD PHOTOS: https://uwmadison.box.com/v/Kutzbach


MADISON, Wisconsin - University of Wisconsin-Madison climatologist John Kutzbach has been awarded China's highest scientific honor for foreigners in recognition of 30 years of collaboration that has advanced both American and Chinese climate science.

Kutzbach, an emeritus professor of atmospheric, oceanic and environmental sciences and the former director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies Center for Climatic Research, received the International Science and Technological Cooperation Award in a ceremony at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. in May.

The scientific collaboration that led to this award began in 1987, when Kutzbach was approached by Chinese geologist and geochemist An Zhisheng about his work studying prehistoric shifts of monsoons in the region. An invited Kutzbach to study the Xi'an loess, where wisps of dust sweeping across the Tibetan plateau settled in thin layers over millions of years, embedding subtle information about ancient climates in the sediment.

"It's like the pages of a book," says Kutzbach. "As the sediments accumulate, they also reflect the climate of the time when they were formed."

Kutzbach uses models of the Earth's climate to both better understand previous climates and more accurately predict future ones. He recognized the loess deposits as an opportunity to test the accuracy of his monsoon model. As climate models advanced over the decades, Kutzbach returned to the Xi'an loess to test and refine increasingly detailed simulations of Earth's climate.

During that time, Kutzbach came to mentor several young Chinese scientists studying at UW-Madison and extended his collaboration to include a dozen senior researchers on both sides of the Pacific, including UW-Madison climatologist Liu Zhengyu.

Enduring records of past climates, like the Xi'an loess, are critical to testing the accuracy of climate models. By running the models back in time, and comparing the results to records from land, ocean sediments, and ice cores, our confidence in models to accurately predict future climates can be increased. Throughout his research career, Kutzbach sought as many independent lines of evidence to test his climate models as he could find. Beyond China, Kutzbach turned to records in Africa, Europe, Australia and other locations to test his simulations.

READ THE FULL STORY: http://news.wisc.edu/30-year-collaboration-earns-uw-climatologist-chinas-top-science-honor/


-Eric Hamilton, (608) 263-1986, eshamilton@wisc.edu

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