The 2014 Louis Agassiz Medal is awarded to Dorthe Dahl-Jensen for her outstanding scientific contributions in polar glaciology and her leadership in international projects that have extended climate records from Greenland ice cores back into the last interglacial.
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen has made numerous important scientific contributions to reconstructing climate, based on ice core and borehole temperature data from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and to elucidating the history and evolution of the Greenland ice sheet. Dahl-Jensen is undoubtedly one of the world-leading figures in the ice core scientific community, and her work has contributed important insights into issues such as ice sheet melting and sea level rise, Arctic warming and abrupt climate change.
Dahl-Jensen’s leadership, both of the Danish and of the international ice-core communities working in Greenland, has been outstanding. Through her energy, organisational abilities and influence with both funders and her international peers, Dahl-Jensen has been responsible for bringing to fruition two of the most exciting projects of the last two decades, cementing the importance of Greenland ice cores for studies of abrupt climate change and the critical last interglacial period. Her leadership of the field projects has been complemented by scientific leadership in Europe, successfully piloting the European Past4Future project. Dahl-Jensen’s need to understand the glaciological setting of the ice cores has also led her into studies of the geophysics of the ice sheet and of the multiple effects of water under the ice.
The breadth of work undertaken by Dahl-Jensen is quite formidable, extending from the study of individual ice crystals out to extraterrestrial ice and from global climate to the bed of the ice sheet. A common factor among all of Dahl-Jensen’s studies is that they each represent not only ground-breaking work in basic science, but also the combination of her scientific fields with others in a larger, interdisciplinary approach to complex, contemporary issues.
Dahl-Jensen has a rare ability to put the subject of climate change into the language of the people, making her a highly sought after subject for media interviews and public presentations. She is a tireless advocate for science and for science that informs intelligent decision making. Dahl-Jensen combines fierce organisational energy, a willingness to engage the international community to crack difficult logistic and scientific problems, and scientific breadth and knowledge. In this combination, she is a true successor to the legacy of Willi Dansgaard and Sigfus Johnsen, and a worthy recipient of the 2014 Louis Agassiz Medal.