The 2022 Hans Oeschger Medal is awarded to Doug Smith for pioneering research in mechanisms of short-term climate variations, and developing methodologies for initialising a climate model with observations to predict climate from one year to decades.
Doug Smith is a world-leading scientist in the field of understanding and predicting short-term climatic variations and change. Previously, initialized predictions had been confined to numerical weather prediction and seasonal prediction of El Niño-related phenomena. Smith pioneered this research by extending initialized predictions out to a decade, and showed that there was skill in predicting short-term climate fluctuations on the decadal timescale. This is a revolutionary concept with profound implications for producing useful weather and climate information on short-term timescales. He created arguably the first global decadal climate forecast system, which started a worldwide climate research activity that now features prominently in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as well as in activities of the World Climate Research Programme. He also leads the Polar Amplification Model Intercomparison Project, which aims to better understand interactions between sea-ice and atmospheric variability, and has conducted leading research on the role of climate noise in climate predictions and the possibility of climate model underestimation of predictable signals. Furthermore, he has investigated processes involved in the Earth’s energy imbalance. Doug Smith has grown over the years to become a reference in climate forecasting, being part of the committees that set the standards for current practices and new developments. He is an outstanding, productive, creative, and inspiring scholar.