The 2011 Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal is awarded to Ulf Riebesell for his important contributions to biogeosciences, in particular to biological oceanography and marine biogeochemistry.
Ulf Riebesell is Professor of Pelagic Biogeochemistry at the Christian-Albrechts-University (CAU), Kiel (Germany), heading the research unit Biological Oceanography, and vice-heading the research section Marine Biogeochemistry at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR). Riebesell started his studies in biology at the CAU of Kiel, obtained his MS at the University of Rhode Island (USA) and his PhD at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI, Bremerhaven) and Bremen University. After two post-doc positions at AWI and the Marine Science Institute of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), he became in 1994 research scientist, in 1995 senior scientist, at AWI and head of the biological part of the interdisciplinary carbon group in 1997. In 2003, Riebesell moved to Kiel University. In 2008/2009 he visited UCSB as a guest professor. Among several affiliations to scientific societies and numerous community services, Ulf Riebesell is a member of the European Geosciences Union and a founding editor of the EGU journal Biogeosciences. The research performed by Riebesell is very interdisciplinary. He began with the study of controls of key pelagic biogeochemical processes such as particle aggregation and sinking, and the stoichiometry of marine elemental cycles. He then branched into calibration of paleo-proxies and phytoplankton physiology and its control by elevated pCO2. His research resulted in numerous publications in key journals and led to a better understanding of the oceanic carbon cycle and the impact of ocean acidification. This work has involved extensive collaboration across disciplinary and national boundaries, something that is very much in the spirit of Vladimir Vernadsky’s own scientific career. The quality, visibility, and interdisciplinary nature of Riebesell’s research are of the highest standing. The Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky medal committee has nominated Ulf Riebesell for his important contributions to biogeosciences, in particular to biological oceanography and marine biogeochemistry of the oceanic carbon cycle. He has been a tremendous asset to the scientific community through innovation, scholarship, mentorship and community outreach. One of the societal implications of his fundamental research is a better understanding of the reaction of the oceans on changing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.