Michiel R. van den Broeke
The 2015 Louis Agassiz Medal is awarded to Michiel R. van den Broeke for fundamental contributions to model mass balance on the ice sheets with the Regional Atmospheric Climate Model (RACMO) model.
Michiel R. van den Broeke is a meteorologist who has applied his expertise and understanding to a wide range of problems in modern and palaeoglaciology. He started work on establishing regional climate modelling as a credible tool for determining surface processes over the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland a little more than a decade ago. Since then, he has revolutionised the field by developing and implementing state-of-the-art regional climate models for present-day and past ice sheets that have been able to reproduce the climate and surface mass balance with unprecedented detail and accuracy. The result of this pioneering work has been the application of his model output in numerous high profile and seminal studies on Antarctica and Greenland, and more recently to smaller ice masses.
What is also notable about van den Broeke is his openness and enthusiasm for his work to be used by the community. The result of this is that RACMO is the leading model for use in any application which requires climate data over the polar regions and his list of collaborators is, therefore, truly international, long and impressive. His work is cited extensively in both the cryosphere and sea-level chapters of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report and he is a contributing author to the latter chapter. His novel and innovative research is, therefore, having an impact not only on the science but also on policy. He is not, however, “just a modeller” and is in Greenland most seasons, maintaining the network of Automatic Weather Stations known as the ‘K transect’ and has also undertaken fieldwork in the Antarctic and elsewhere. Through this combination of field study and modelling he is making fundamental advances to our understanding of atmosphere-ice interactions and processes.
In addition to his exceptional research credentials, he has also found time to serve the glaciological community in a number of important and lasting ways. He has been a contributor to the Karthaus Summer Schools over many years (training future generations of glaciologists), was an editor for the journal of Glaciology for six years and has been a co-editor-in-chief of the EGU journal, The Cryosphere, since 2007. He has also convened many sessions at the EGU General Assembly and other meetings on ice-sheet climate processes. He is, therefore, someone who has put a great deal back into the cryospheric scientific community. He is a remarkably rounded and exceptionally talented scientist who has contributed both scientifically, educationally and in service to the cryospheric community in a lasting, unique and selfless way. He is an excellent role model to his peers and young scientists coming into the field. Michiel R. van den Broeke is, without question, an extremely worthy recipient of the Louis Agassiz Medal.