L. Ruby Leung, 2019 Bert Bolin awardee and lecturer of the AGU Global Environmental Change section
L. Ruby Leung

Dr. Lai-Yung (Ruby) Leung has been a real force advancing the science and modeling frontiers of environmental change. She is an influential researcher and an outstanding community leader. She has pioneered modeling of regional and global climate change using innovative approaches to represent such fine-scale processes as orographic precipitation and mountain snowpack and to integrate natural and human system processes in Earth system models. Using models and observations, her research has advanced understanding of the water cycle and its interactions with anthropogenic forcings. She has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advancing community research in extreme weather and climate through field campaigns, data analysis, and modeling of such phenomena as atmospheric rivers, mesoscale convective systems, tropical cyclones, extreme precipitation, and floods and droughts. In addition to organizing workshops for U.S. climate agencies to identify gaps and priorities in climate and hydrological research, she has been serving as the chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM). This activity pushes the cutting edge of high-resolution climate modeling and develops unique capabilities to represent human–Earth system interactions. In sum, she exemplifies the spirit of Bolin’s legacy by advancing both science and modeling to address environmental change problems of high societal impacts.

—Rong Fu, University of California, Los Angeles


It is an honor for me to be selected for the Bert Bolin Award and Lecture of the AGU Global Environmental Change section. I am grateful for the nomination and for the committee’s selecting me for the award. I have been fascinated by water for its life-supporting function, the beauty it creates in our environment, and its mysterious ways in connecting the various parts of the Earth system. Hence, water weaves through my journey as a scientist from modeling orographic clouds and precipitation and snowpack in mountainous areas, to collecting data from a research aircraft flying through atmospheric rivers, to modeling storms and land and river processes, to exploring the mechanisms of how precipitation may respond to warming and other human perturbations. I have been blessed with many opportunities to collaborate with wonderful colleagues in my institution and scientists across the community sharing the same passion about water in its various forms in the Earth system. I thank them for being an inspiration and for sharing their ideas and expertise. I am also grateful to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research program for its foresight and continued support of cutting-edge Earth system research and its user facilities enabling the research. Through national and international efforts, we now have an explosion of data from different observing systems and computational models capable of simulating clouds in their glorious details or connecting human and Earth system processes, providing data and tools to test our understanding and predict Earth system evolution. Continued advances in understanding and predicting regional and global environmental change will equip us with powerful knowledge to improve societal resilience to extremes and variability and change.

—L. Ruby Leung, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Wash.


(2020), Leung receives 2019 Bert Bolin Global Environmental Change Award, Eos, 101, Published on 02 April 2020.

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