Dr. Ben Kirtman Honored as 2023 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union

Dr. Ben Kirtman and 2023-24 AGU President Dr. Lisa Graumlich

Dr. Ben Kirtman Honored as 2023 Fellow of the…


IDSC Deputy Director Dr. Ben Kirtman has been named a 2023 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). “I am honored, proud, and at the same time humbled, by all the incredible achievements of the other recipients of the 2023 AGU Class of Fellows,” said Dr. Kirtman.

“This award motivates me to press on to improve our understanding of the Earth system, and to ensure that what I do is actionable.” Fellowship in the AGU is a recognition and accolade for demonstrating excellence in Earth and space sciences. As one of 63 recipients joining the 2023 Class of AGU Union Fellows he was honored at the fall meeting held December 11-15 in San Francisco. (He is pictured above with 2023-24 AGU President Dr. Lisa Graumlich.)

Educational Background
Dr. Kirtman uses atmosphere-ocean general circulation models to study the predictability and variability of the Earth’s climate system. He has been at the University of Miami for more than 15 years. He is currently the director of the Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Studies (“CIMAS” a NOAA Center of Excellence), the deputy director of the Frost Institute for Data Science and Computing (IDSC), and the director for IDSC’s Earth Systems Science program.

Originally from Santa Barbara, California, Dr. Kirtman received his Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of California-San Diego in 1987, and his Master’s and PhD from the University of Maryland-College Park in 1992. From 1993-2002, he was a research scientist with the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) at George Mason University, and in 2002, joined the George Mason faculty as a tenured Associate Professor. Then, in 2007, Kirtman joined the Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science as a professor of atmospheric sciences.

International Leadership
Dr. Kirtman has enjoyed a leadership role in the World Climate Research Program’s (WCRP) seasonal to-interannual prediction activities; he chaired the International Climate and Ocean Variability, Predictability and Change (CLIVAR) Working Group on Seasonal to Interannual Prediction; and served on the WCRP Task Force for Seasonal Prediction. He also served on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Working Group One—the Scientific Basis. In addition, Kirtman is the author and/or co-author of over 250 peer reviewed papers. He was the executive editor of Climate Dynamics, an associate editor of the American Geophysical Union Journal of Geophysical Research, and editor of the AMS Journal Weather and Forecasting.

Sponsored Research
Dr. Kirtman is understandably proud of the fact that the University of Miami has been the lead in the multi-agency/multi-institution effort to improve NOAA’s seasonal and sub-seasonal operative forecasts since 2015. His research aims to quantify the limits of climate predictability from days to decades, and examines how the climate will change in response to changes in anthropogenic (e.g. greenhouse gases) and natural (e.g. volcanoes) forcing elements. His research also involves hypothesis testing numerical experiments using sophisticated state-of-the-art climate models, experimental real-time prediction, and advanced computing/machine learning. Dr. Kirtman’s research has been supported by numerous grants from the NSF, Department of Energy, NOAA, NASA, and the Office of Naval Research.

Since 2014, he has led the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), a seasonal forecasting system that has greatly improved El Niño forecasts, and which provides data used by NOAA for its seasonal hurricane outlook and by the National Weather Service to help form long-range forecasts and provide advance weather warnings.

Awards and Honors
In 2008, Dr. Kirtman received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 2011, he was appointed Associate Dean of Research for the Rosenstiel School. And in 2016, SUNY Stony Brook honored Dr. Kirtman with the Robert D. Cess Distinguished Lecture in Recognition of Outstanding Contributions to Atmospheric Sciences award. Additionally, he was awarded the Rosenstiel School Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences’ undergraduate teaching award in 2016, 2017, and 2018. In 2019, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, and was elected to the Board of Trustees for the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, which manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on behalf of the NSF. Most recently, Dr. Kirtman was named the inaugural William R. Middlethon III Endowed Chair of Earth Sciences. Dr. Kirtman is the 11th Rosenstiel faculty member to receive the AGU Fellow honor bestowed on only 0.1% of AGU membership, in any given year.

SOURCE:  Story by Diana Udel

About the AGU College of Fellows 

The mission of the AGU College of Fellows is to foster excellence, integrity, and interdisciplinary collaboration in the Earth and space sciences, provide expert and strategic advice to AGU on global scientific issues, and support the professional development and engagement of scientists at all career stages and from all backgrounds.

All Union Fellows of the AGU, including those being awarded conferred fellowship—Macelwane and Ambassador Awardees—are members of the AGU College of Fellows (CoF). The CoF has been organized to provide a venue where Fellows can contribute to the AGU and to society through specific activities; participation is by choice.

The current areas of focus for the College of Fellows are on the following projects and activities:

  • Creating mentoring connections between Fellows and students and/or early-career scientists
  • Developing mechanics for creating a distinguished traveling speaker series
  • Creating activities and projects aimed at preserving AGU’s legacy
  • Generating ideas that will shape the future of AGU, our science, and its impact on society
  • Engaging AGU’s global community by creating international regional hubs

About the American Geophysical Union (AGU)
AGU is a global community supporting more than half a million advocates and professionals in the Earth and space sciences. Through broad and inclusive partnerships, AGU aims to advance discovery and solution science that accelerate knowledge and create solutions that are ethical, unbiased, and respectful of communities and their values. Their programs include serving as a scholarly publisher, convening virtual and in-person events and providing career support. AGU lives its values in everything they do, such as their net zero energy renovated building in Washington, D.C. and their Ethics and Equity Center, which fosters a diverse and inclusive geoscience community to ensure responsible conduct.

Established in 1919 by the National Research Council, the AGU has operated as an unincorporated affiliate of the National Academy of Sciences for more than 50 years. They were independently incorporated in 1972.