January 29, 2024
Staff Accomplishment

PNNL Researchers Contribute to UCAR Best Paper

Article focuses on Earth System Models and energy budget errors


From left: Vince Larson, Phil Rasch, Hui Wan, and Bryce Harrop.

(Composite image by Shannon Colson | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

A paper co-authored by four Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)-affiliated scientists has been awarded the 2023 UCAR Outstanding Accomplishment Award for Publication.

UCAR, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, is a nonprofit consortium of more than 120 North American colleges and universities focused on research and training in Earth system science.

The paper, “Reconciling and Improving Formulations for Thermodynamics and Conservation Principles in Earth System Models (ESMs),” was co-authored by Vince Larson, a professor at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a joint appointee at PNNL; Phil Rasch, a PNNL Laboratory Fellow and former PNNL Chief Scientist for Climate Science; Hui Wan, a computational scientist and global climate modeler at PNNL; and Bryce Harrop, an Earth scientist at PNNL.

The article focuses on Earth System Models (ESMs) and the fact that numerous ESMs have total energy budget errors.

“The publication is encyclopedic in nature, spanning 83 pages and containing more than 160 equations. Yet, it is remarkably clear and highly readable, a rare quality for a paper on such a complex subject,” said the UCAR award citation for the paper, published in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems. “As ESMs are being applied to additional challenges such as seasonal prediction and convection-resolving scales, energetic and thermodynamic consistency is more important than ever. This work will serve as a reference for the global community of climate modelers and will be read for many years to come.”

The findings presented in the article may contribute, over time, to improved ESMs, said Harrop, who was one of the article’s co-authors.

“It will probably take a lot of individual efforts broken into separate projects and that will take some time,” Harrop said. “As long as we're moving in the right direction, I would call that a pretty big win. This award is a win, too. It’s always nice to have your work recognized by a broader audience in your field.”

Former UCAR President Walter Orr Roberts, the founder of the National Center for Climate Research, established the outstanding publication award in 1967. The award is given for the published results in the past five years of original research, review papers, or pedagogically oriented books that contribute to the atmospheric sciences.

Publications are judged on these criteria: (a) importance of the subject to atmospheric science broadly defined, including work connecting atmospheric science with other disciplines or matters of public policy; (b) importance of the publication's contribution to its specific subject area; (c) evidence of creativity and originality; and (d) clarity of exposition.

Published: January 29, 2024