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Robert Sadourny

Robert Sadourny
Robert Sadourny

The 2000 Milutin Milankovic Medal is awarded to Robert Sadourny for his exceptionally wide involvement to many facets of climate research, as his pioneer contribution in fundamental problems of atmospheric dynamics, his continuous help in developing space borne and field instrumentation and his leadership in atmosphere general circulation models.

Robert Sadourny started his career as an atmosphere modeller in the late sixties, by doing pioneering work on the use of icoahedral triangulation of the sphere for atmospheric general circulation modelling. This approach is being widely revived today in many research groups worldwide. Creating the atmospheric modelling group in France at the Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique (LMD), Robert Sadourny was the first to recognise the importance of the conservation properties linked to potential vorticity dynamics in the modelling of geophysical flows, and use them in designing new finite difference algorithms which were quickly used operationally in several centres including the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasts.

In parallel to atmospheric large scale modelling, he developed and led the LMD team on nonlinear dynamics, who made a number of significant contributions to various aspects of two-dimensional and quasi-geostrophic turbulence. Another notable achievement was his derivation of an energy conserving parametrisation of sub-grid scale baroclinic eddies in quasigeostrophic or primitive equation models.

In the early eighties he led with coworkers several pioneering studies on transport processes in relation to the general circulation of the atmosphere, applied to water isotopes, to desert dust, or to inverting the water cycle for investigating the origin of precipitating water.

For three four-year terms he was Director of the Laboratoire de Meteorologie Dynamique, one of the leading French laboratories in the dynamics of atmosphere and climate. He used this leadership to help developing space borne instrumentations at LMD, and became Chairman of the Earth-Atmosphere-Ocean-Biosphere Scientific Steering Group of CNES, the French space agency.

In recent years his research has become more focused on climate dynamics and modelling, with the development of a general interface for coupling the atmosphere to the land or ocean, investigation of the sensitivity of climate to variations of the solar activity, El Nino dynamics and their interaction with the Asian monsoons. More recently, he has led the French component of the international INDOEX field experiment and conducted himself part of the measurement campaign. He is currently a member of the Scientific Council of the Indo-French Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.

Among other distinctions he has been awarded the Silver Medal of CNRS and the Alexandre Johannides Grand Prize of the French Academy of Sciences. He is a member of Academia Europaea.