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EGU Award Ceremony (Credit: EGU/Foto Pfluegl)

Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Awards 2024 Alessandro Silvano

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European Geosciences Union

Alessandro Silvano

Alessandro Silvano
Alessandro Silvano

OS Ocean Sciences

The 2024 Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award is awarded to Alessandro Silvano for outstanding research in the field of physical oceanography under ice, and ice-ocean interactions.

Alessandro Silvano is a fast-emerging leader in the field of physical oceanography under ice, and ice-ocean interactions. In his short career thus far, he has made a wide range of impactful contributions in this topical field. He has also led teams of scientists of all career stages into important new research endeavours.

A glance at his precociously rich publication record reveals the significance of Silvano’s work. He published in similar proportions in high-profile multidisciplinary journals and specialist journals. It was thanks to his sharp scientific insights that we first learned, for example, that rapid basal melting was occurring across multiple East Antarctic ice shelves. These were previously thought to be largely sheltered from ocean-climate change. Also as part of his PhD, Silvano was first to reveal that a concerning positive feedback between ice shelf melting and Southern Ocean warming is already underway in some Antarctic sectors. It was Silvano who elucidated the first evidence that water mass property trends in the ocean abyss, which had progressed seemingly unabated over decades, can be abruptly reversed by complex atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions triggered by climate extremes. And it was through Silvano’s out-of-the-box thinking that the prevailing paradigm of how the ocean drives the contemporary melting of West Antarctica was turned on its head. Most recently, Alessandro Silvano has assembled and led a team of over 40 scientists to write a position paper on the ongoing climatic changes of the abyssal ocean circulation, and how these should be measured in the future.

Silvano’s leadership, however, is not only intellectual. A mere 4 years after PhD, he has – as PI – spun up a programme of continuous measurements of ocean salinity with National Geographic. He also secured a prestigious Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Independent Research Fellowship, a highly competitive fellowship awarded solely to rising stars, leading to a permanent academic position in UK institutions. Perhaps most impressively, he has engineered a multi-million dollar philanthropic grant to transform our understanding of the vulnerability of East Antarctica to climate change. For these precocious and exceptional achievements Alessandro Silvano receives the Ocean Sciences Division Outstanding Early Career Scientist award.