The 2020 Milutin Milankovic Medal is awarded to Valérie Masson-Delmotte for outstanding contributions to research on long-term climate change, namely palaeotemperature records from ice cores, and for her leadership in international efforts to translate science to society.
Valerie Masson-Delmotte received her PhD from the Ecole Centrale Paris and Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE). She continues to work at LSCE, where she is currently the research director of Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA).
Over the past two decades, Masson-Delmotte’s innovative scientific contributions have allowed the community to significantly improve its understanding of the climatic interpretation of ice-core records. She has built strong expertise in processes linking climate parameters and stable isotopes of precipitation using measurements of isotopic composition of present-day precipitation (in areas such as Antarctica, Greenland, Tibet and France) and uses an ensemble of modelling approaches.
With the support of her research group and international project partners, Masson-Delmotte has obtained high-resolution measurements spanning the past centuries in order to characterise the power spectrum of climate variability beyond the instrumental period. This has provided an improved understanding of the links between climate parameters and stable isotope records and has enabled the last centuries to be placed in the broader context of current and previous interglacial periods.
In addition to her excellence in fundamental science, Masson-Delmotte has also been a prominent leader of the research community. Her broad scientific expertise and strong collaborations have enabled her leadership in climate science culminating in her appointment as co-chair of IPCC Working Group I for the Sixth Assessment Report.
Masson-Delmotte also has an exceptionally strong record in outreach activities, particularly for school children and the general public. She is a very well-known female scientific leader globally and was awarded the 2013 Prix Irène Joliot Curie for “Scientific woman of the year”. In 2018, she was named one of “Nature’s 10 – Ten people who matter this year”.
Few scientists can fulfil such an active public role, carry out their own research, mentor young scientists and throughout maintain a friendly and collaborative culture with all that work with her. Valérie Masson-Delmotte richly deserves the 2020 Milankovic Medal.