The 2018 Vilhelm Bjerknes Medal is awarded to Pinhas Alpert for his outstanding contributions to atmospheric dynamics and aerosol science.
Pinhas Alpert is the creator of the Factor Separation (FS) Method which led to an in-depth understanding of the synergising effect of atmospheric factors used for the studies of weather, climate and other applications. The FS methodology introduced by Alpert has been applied by many scientists in a variety of environmental studies, including palaeoclimatology, limnology, regional climate change, rainfall analysis, cloud modelling, pollution, crop growth, as well as forecasting.
Alpert is also one of the creators of a novel method for monitoring rainfall patterns and atmospheric moisture using networks of cellular infrastructure. This method has a high potential to improve flash-flood forecasting, which is particularly important in mountainous arid and semiarid regions. Alpert has also made a major contribution to a systematic climatological analysis of Mediterranean cyclones which monitors the month-to-month variability of cyclonic tracks and cyclone frequencies. He has improved the understanding of the reduced precipitation in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, particularly regarding the drought of the Fertile Crescent.
Furthermore, Alpert’s research has pushed forward the incorporation of aerosol effects in climate simulations. In order to estimate the impact of dust from the Sahara Desert on the mean radiative forcing, Alpert suggested using a new source of data: the systematic errors of global climate models generated during the reanalysis procedure. He investigated the origin of significant decadal variations in surface solar radiation, also known as solar dimming, and found that this was dominated by anthropogenic aerosol over the most densely populated and industrialized parts of the global land area. Reflecting the scientific importance and thematic extent of his work, Alpert’s publication list is, effectively, a book on the history of modern meteorology, according to many scientists.
Almost two decades ago, Alpert established the Tel Aviv University Weather Research Center with daily operational dust storm predictions. He has also demonstrated a strong and continuous commitment in education, and is the Head of the Porter School for Environmental Studies where he inspires graduate students in the field of atmospheric sciences.
Alpert has made fundamental contributions in the fields of atmospheric dynamics and atmospheric aerosols. Equally importantly, he has transferred both his scientific knowledge and his enthusiasm for science to the next generation of researchers. For these outstanding achievements, Alpert is a worthy recipient of the 2018 Vilhelm Bjerknes Medal.