Alan Betts’s research “has been transformative by providing a new understanding of one of the fundamental climate processes—land-atmospheric coupling and how it varies from the diurnal to monthly time scale, with land cover, and how it may vary under environmental change. His environmental change leadership in Vermont has been exceptional. His writings, public talks and TV interviews dealing with weather, climate, climate change, energy, and policy issues have fostered positive debate; as they both clarify the climate issues we all face, while encouraging readers and listeners to explore alternative, hopeful paths for themselves, their families and society.”
—Rong Fu, President, Global Environmental Change focus group, University of Texas
I am grateful to the AGU Global Environmental Change focus group for selecting me as the first recipient of the Bert Bolin Award.
My work over the past 40 years has covered a wide range of topics central to understanding the Earth’s climate over land and ocean, and the coupling between the oceans and land surface, the atmospheric boundary layer, clouds, convection, and radiation across scales. Because I have worked as an independent scientist in Vermont for decades, this work would not have been possible without the support of so many across the globe. I would specifically like to thank Martin Miller, Anton Beljaars, Pedro Viterbo, and Gianpaulo Balsamo (and the late Tony Hollingsworth) at ECMWF for 30 years of collaboration using data to evaluate and improve the physics of their analysis-forecast system. My recent work on land-atmosphere-cloud coupling over the Canadian Prairies that this award cites would not have been possible without the foresight of Ray Desjardins at Agriculture Canada, and the generous support of other Canadian scientists. My understanding of the Amazon owes much to my Brazilian friends and collaborators, Maria and Pedro Silva Dias. Long-term support from NSF and grants from NASA made all this possible.
My role as a climate advisor in Vermont owes a profound debt to the people of Vermont, who have deep roots in the land. They see what is happening to their climate, and have reached out to me, urgently seeking understanding and answers, as ongoing climate change is transforming the state. So for more than a decade, it has been clear that my research must address these critical questions, and translate all that we know, both locally and globally, into concepts that citizens and professionals can understand and apply to their work and lives.
—Alan K. Betts, Atmospheric Research, Pittsford, Vt.