The 2012 Hans Oeschger Medal is awarded to Michael Mann for his significant contributions to understanding decadal-centennial scale climate change over the last two millennia and for pioneering techniques to synthesize patterns and northern hemispheric time series of past climate using proxy data reconstructions.
Michael Mann obtained his PhD from Yale University and is Professor of Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University. Mann deserves the award on the basis of his important contributions to the understanding of climate change over the last two millennia but also for pioneering statistical techniques for isolating climate signals in noisy data. He has chosen to work primarily in paleoclimate, but he has a strong mathematical and statistical background. Together, these strengths have made him a leader in his field. Mann’s climate reconstruction of the last 1000 years is popularly known as the “Hockey Stick” and gave tremendous impetus to the study of historical climate change, even though some questions remains about the magnitude of these past changes. By doing so, he had to face escalating political and personal attacks. Hans Oeschger once stated that:”The worst for me would be, if there were serious changes in the next 5 to 10 years and we scientists are helpless and did not have the courage to point at these dangerous developments early on.” Mann exemplifies the courage that Oeschger hoped scientists should have, another reason for him to deserve the Oeschger Medal. Mann has published seminal papers in top journals and his publication record is outstanding for a scientist of his relatively young age (10 articles in the 3 top journals: Nature, Science, PNAS)