Wednesday, December 15, 2010

American Geophysical Union Honors NASA's Bill Patzert

 Bill Patzert, an oceanographer and climatologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has been honored by the American Geophysical Union with its 2010 Athelstan Spilhaus Award for his contributions to improving public understanding of Earth science.

Patzert is receiving the award at a ceremony today at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Meeting in San Francisco. The Athelstan Spilhaus Award honors American Geophysical Union members who have devoted parts of their lives to enhancing public understanding of Earth and space science. Established in 2003, the award is named in honor of Athelstan F. Spilhaus Sr., a geophysicist and meteorologist who made groundbreaking contributions to science, education and public service.

Called by some the "Prophet of California Climate," Patzert has served as the face and voice of JPL oceanography and climate change to local, regional, national and international news outlets for more than a quarter century. A strong supporter of NASA's outreach and education efforts, Patzert frequently speaks to schools and environmental and business groups about the importance of Earth's ocean and climate science.

"To me, the Spilhaus Award is about the passionate telling of science stories," said Patzert. "Communicating science to the public isn't always easy, but it is always essential. Today, perhaps more than at any time in the past, it is vital that scientists tell compelling, correct and understandable stories, because we live in a time when climate science and scientists are under fire."

Patzert graduated from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., and earned a doctorate in oceanography from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. He joined JPL in 1983. During his career he has consulted for numerous organizations, including NASA, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the United Nations and many scientific and environmental groups. His research interests include improving climate forecasting, and analyzing and interpreting sea surface height data from NASA ocean satellites, which are used to monitor sea level rise and forecast and analyze such climate phenomena as El Niño and La Niña.

Founded in 1919, the American Geophysical Union is a worldwide scientific community that advances the understanding of Earth and space science.

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