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Milutin Milanković Medal 2002 I. Colin Prentice

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I. Colin Prentice

I. Colin Prentice
I. Colin Prentice

The 2002 Milutin Milanković Medal is awarded to I. Colin Prentice for his outstanding contributions in modelling the terrestrial biosphere as an interactive component of our Earth system.

Dr. Colin Prentice is the author or co-author of about 150 scientific papers which all contribute to the same central objectives: the recognition of the terrestrial biosphere as an essential, interactive part of the Earth system, and a better understanding of its link with the global climate changes, past or future. Dr. Prentice has played a decisive role in designing numerical models that can simulate the global evolution of the terrestrial ecosystems including the carbon exchanges and their link with climate, the water and nitrogen cycling, the water and energy exchanges between the vegetation and the atmosphere, and the dynamics of vegetation systems. He has been using global and regional analysis of past an present data to test and validate his models, which have also been applied to investigate future climate change scenarios. Dr. Colin Prentice has contributed actively to the recent IPCC report in which he has been a Convening Lead Author. His pioneering work has contributed to develop an active worldwide community, studying issues which are essential to evaluate the amplitude and possible impacts of future climate changes.

I am a plant ecologist and palaeoecologist by training, with experience in the field working with vegetation and in the laboratory working with pollen grains in sediments…. however, I have always been a theoretician at heart, and interested in new applications of physics and mathematics to ecological problems. My research has ranged over multivariate data analysis, pollen dispersal modelling, vegetation dynamics (including forest succession modelling), palaeoenvironment reconstruction and analysis, and most recently global biosphere modelling, biosphere-atmosphere interactions and the global carbon cycle. I obtained my Ph.D. at Cambridge in 1977 and embarked on a career as an itinerant postdoc in several European countries. Soon after getting my first tenured research position (at Uppsala University in 1988), I moved to become Professor of Plant Ecology at Lund University. Then, in 1997, I was invited to become a founder-director of the new Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena. I am a long-standing member of the IGBP’s Global Analysis, Integration and Modelling task force (GAIM); I have also been deeply involved in the work of the IPCC. My interest in Milankovic’s theory (and, indeed, my involvement with global climate modelling) started when I was invited to join the Co-operative Holocene Mapping Project (COHMAP) almost exactly twenty years ago, and got a further boost when Sweden moved closer to Europe in the late 1980s. My research group is called ‘Global Ecology’, which can also be considered as a branch of geophysics that focuses on the role of the biosphere in the regulation of atmospheric composition and climate.

I. Colin Prentice
Jena, 23 March 2002