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Peter L. Read

Peter L. Read
Peter L. Read

The 2016 Lewis Fry Richardson Medal is awarded to Peter L. Read for his fundamental studies of the nonlinear dynamics of stratified rotating fluids and for their applications in the analysis of dynamical phenomena in planetary atmospheres.

Peter Read is a leader in the application of nonlinear dynamics ideas and methods to geophysical fluid dynamics. His ability to apply theoretical concepts and computation to diverse phenomena in rotating stratified flows in the laboratory and in models and observations of planetary atmospheres has led to unique insights and to the discovery and explanation of novel effects. Read’s sophisticated flow diagnostics of velocity and temperature fields in his experiments on a rotating annulus with a radial temperature gradient have enabled him to interpret the observations in terms of the relevant nonlinear dynamics. His experiments with Hide yielded a laboratory analogue of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. Read developed a general circulation model for Venus that helps in understanding the super-rotation of the planet’s atmosphere. He has studied several atmospheric synchronisation phenomena, including phase synchronisation between stratospheric and tropospheric quasi-biennial and semi-annual oscillations. In a series of papers, he has used potential vorticity to gain insight into flow stability of zonal flows. Recently, Read and his students achieved a breakthrough in the understanding of a major puzzle in Martian atmospheric dynamics, the variability of global dust storms that occur in some years and not in others. In 1992, Read led the development of one of the first general circulation models of the Martian atmosphere. His team subsequently joined efforts with a French group led by François Forget (Institut Pierre Simon Laplace) to develop a Martian climate model that now provides the reference climate database for the community. Read also led a group in developing the Oxford Planetary Unified Model System, which enables comparisons of the atmospheres of Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Titan. Read was a founding member of the NASA Mars Climate Sounder team, which is currently in its seventh year of obtaining atmospheric limb sounding data for an improved understanding of Mars’ atmospheric circulation, weather and climate. Read has used the satellite data to improve numerical simulation models and data assimilation schemes, and to increase the fidelity of model representations of the dynamics of the Martian atmosphere. Read is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and of the Royal Meteorological Society. He was chair of the European Geophysical Society Internal Working Group on Nonlinear Processes (1996–2000), he has received multiple awards from NASA for his leadership role in satellite sounder programmes, and he is currently Joint Chair of the UK Met Office Academic Partnership. For Read’s wide-ranging accomplishments in applying nonlinear physics concepts in laboratory experiments, theory, numerical modelling, and space mission observations, and his exemplary service to the geoscience community, the EGU regards Peter Read to be eminently qualified to receive the 2016 Lewis Fry Richardson Medal.