The 2020 Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal is awarded to Pierre Friedlingstein for exceptional contributions to biogeosciences in leading the quantification of the carbon-climate feedbacks in a changing world.
Pierre Friedlingstein is a professor at the University of Exeter, where he holds the Chair in Mathematical Modelling of the Climate System and is a Research Director at France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. After obtaining a PhD from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Friedlingstein habilitated at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie. He has held positions at the CNRS, Columbia University NASA/GISS and the University of Bristol. Friedlingstein was an author on the IPCC report that was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, and he has also received the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2014, the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award in 2019, and several awards for excellent citations. He is a fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society.
Friedlingstein is a towering figure in the modern, interdisciplinary science of the global carbon cycle. He has contributed probably more than any other living scientist to an understanding of the vital role played by terrestrial ecosystems in taking up anthropogenic carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. He thereby combines a comprehensive view of the Earth system and its components with deep physical insight and rigorous attention to mathematical detail. With his extremely collaborative work style, Friedlingstein plays a key role in globally significant carbon modelling activities like the Global Carbon Project, the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, and the Coupled Climate Carbon Cycle Model Intercomparison Project that led to his outstanding 2006 paper in the Journal of Climate. He has published more than 180 papers and has an exemplary citation record in highly ranked journals.
In addition to his scientific contributions to the global biogeosciences, Friedlingstein has tirelessly served the community in a number of ways. For many years he played a key role in communicating scientific results on climate change to policy makers and now serves as a member of the Committee on Climate Change, a global mitigation effort dedicated to achieving the Paris Agreement. He is also an editor of the Journal of Climate.
It is difficult to think of a more worthy recipient of the Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal than Pierre Friedlingstein, who truly upholds Vernadsky’s legacy. Friedlingstein has been an amazingly dedicated and gifted leader of the biogeosciences community through scientific innovation, outstanding communication activities and community service.