The 2014 David Bates Medal is awarded to François Forget for his leadership in planetary climate modelling, his contributions to improving global climate models and for establishing the first quantitative framework for comparative planetology.
François Forget is Senior Scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and Head of the Planetology Department of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique in Paris. Forget is one of the world-leading experts in the domain of planetary climate and general circulation modelling. He started the development of the first European climate model of Mars in the late 1990s, based on the terrestrial version of the general circulation model. Since then, Forget has continuously improved this model, which is now able to simulate virtually all dynamic, physical and chemical processes that take place in the lower atmosphere up to the exosphere, including the ionosphere, and exchange with the surface and polar caps. This model is unique in the Martian planetary community. Over the last decade, Forget has promoted the idea that any given climate needs to be represented as a single, coherent and global system, with all components interacting together. Forget’s achievements for Mars and the exoplanets in this domain represent a major leap forward for the entire community.
In addition, Forget’s efforts in the modelling of the past climate of Mars allowed him and his colleagues to explore the climatic conditions of the young Mars and the possible implications for habitability. Forget also demonstrated how Mars’ obliquity changes during the last few million years have paced and shaped most of its water-related glaciological landforms. He also initiated and participated in the application of the general circulation model to a wide range of Solar System bodies, establishing the first quantitative framework for comparative planetology.
Forget has not only developed models but has also offered the community to use them, providing scientific and technical assistance. A major achievement is the European Mars Climate Database, which Forget and his team built and maintained. This database is a tool offered to the whole community of scientists, allowing anyone to request and retrieve, through a web interface, the physical parameters of the Martian atmosphere under any seasonal conditions. For all these reasons, François Forget is a worthy recipient the 2014 David Bates Medal.