OS Ocean Sciences
The 2019 Division Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award is awarded to Peter Landschützer for outstanding and game-changing contributions to the quantification of the evolving ocean carbon sink, its variation and its drivers.
The foundation of Peter Landschützer’s contribution to ocean science was the development of a novel machine learning technique for mapping the relatively sparse in situ surface ocean carbon dioxide (CO2) observations to the global ocean, permitting the determination of the net air-sea CO2 flux across space and over the last three decades. While this was attempted previously, his elegant solution to this challenge broke an impasse and demonstrated that this is feasible once the problem is broken into a two-step procedure. The outcome of Landschützer’s work has become one of the gold standards in the determination of the role of the ocean for the global carbon cycle (e.g. his estimates are being used for the annual assessment of the global carbon budget by the Global Carbon Project), and has served as the basis for a number of outstanding and highly important papers. This includes, e.g., his 2015 Science paper on the reinvigoration of the Southern Ocean carbon sink, which demonstrated, for the first time, the importance of decadal variations for the ocean carbon sink. Most recently, he demonstrated that the seasonal cycle of surface ocean pCO2 has increased substantially in recent decades, with potential important consequences for marine life (Nature Climate Change, 2018). Landschützer combines unique strengths in statistics and big data science with a deep desire to understand and quantify marine systems, qualities that will carry him far. In short, Peter Landschützer is an outstanding early career scientist on track to become a world leader in his field.