The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Climate Change category goes, in this eighth edition, to Veerabhadran Ramanathan for quantifying how human activities disrupt Earth’s energy balance and drive climate change.
Professor Ramanathan’s deep understanding of radiant energy transfer showed how strongly human-produced trace gases other than carbon dioxide contribute to Earth’s greenhouse effect, and how particles suspended in the atmosphere modulate the amount of sunlight absorbed by Earth. He has also been a leader in the development and application of new observational approaches to explore the impact of particles on atmospheric circulation systems such as the monsoon and on Earth’s ability to reflect sunlight. His research has inspired him to propose and test practical actions to mitigate climate change in a way that also improves air quality and human health, especially in more impoverished regions of the world.
Ramanathan’s vision and dedication to communicating the risks posed by climate change and air pollution have commanded the attention of world leaders and helped shape public awareness of these issues. The quantitative understanding arising from his research will be necessary for assessing strategies being proposed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming from human activities.