A global science and policy success story: Susan Solomon, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies, was honored for her contributions to atmospheric science with the 2018 Crafoord Prize.
IN MAY OF 2018, SUSAN SOLOMON, the Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at MIT, traveled to Stockholm to accept the 2018 Crafoord Prize in Geosciences from H. M. King Carl Gustav XVI and H. M. Queen Silvia of Sweden. Solomon, along with fellow legendary climate scien- tist Syukuro Manabe of Princeton University, was awarded the Crafoord Prize for “fundamental contributions to understanding the role of atmospheric trace gases in Earth’s climate system.” While in Stockholm, Solomon delivered her laureate lecture: “Meeting The Challenges of the Antarctic Ozone Hole: A Global Science and Policy Success Story.”
Solomon is internationally recognized as a leader in atmospheric science, particularly for her insights in explaining the cause of the Antarctic ozone “hole”. For more than 30 years, her studies have been at the forefront of research into the ozone layer and its role in the Earth’s climate system, with the chemical reactions she proposed for ozone depletion now one of the cornerstones of stratospheric chemical modeling.
In the 1980s Solomon solved the puzzle of the Antarctic ozone hole’s appearance, using theoretical and chemical measurement- focused studies in the Antarctic atmosphere. She examined the ice crystals in the stratospheric clouds that form there every year due to the extreme cold. These ice crystals cause the initiation of chemical processes that differ from those that were previously assumed to occur. On this basis, Solomon presented a theory that explained the link between man-made chlorofluorocarbon emissions and the chemical processes taking place in the Antarctic stratosphere that led to the extensive depletion of its ozone layer. Her theory was verified by measurements conducted in the stratosphere. Later, Solomon showed how the thickness of the ozone layer in the southern hemisphere affects atmospheric flows and temperatures all the way down to ground level.
Established in 1980, the Crafoord Prize is awarded in partnership between the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Crafoord Foundation in Lund. The prize sum of six million Swedish krona (approximately $680,000) is one of the world’s largest scientific prizes. Designed as a complement to the Nobel Prizes, there are four disciplines: mathematics and astronomy, geosciences, biosciences (with an emphasis on ecology), and polyarthritis. The prizes are awarded by discipline on a rotating annual basis, with the exception of polyarthritis, which is awarded only when scientific progress in the field has been such that an award is justified.
Former EAPS professor Edward N. Lorenz (together with Henry Stommel) received the first Crafoord Prize in Geosciences in 1983. Peter Molnar, also a former EAPS professor of geoscience, was awarded the prize in 2014.
To watch the full video of her Crafoord Lecture and read more news stories about the research, visit:
Story Image: Susan Solomon and Syukuro Manabe each receive the Crafoord Prize in Geosciences on May 24, 2018 from H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm. Image credits: Markus Marcetic, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
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