Penn State University glaciologist Richard B. Alley is the winner of the initial Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication, administered by Climate One, a sustainability initiative of the nonprofit Commonwealth Club of California.

Richard B. Alley
Richard B. Alley

Alley is to receive the $10,000 award at The Commonwealth Club on December 6 during the annual American Geophysical Union conference being held that week in San Francisco.

Prize Juror Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — like Alley a Member of the National Academy of Sciences — singled-out Alley’s research on “how fast and how high will sea levels rise, and what can past climates tell us about the sea level changes we might expect to see over the 21st century.” The jury referred to Alley’s 2010 House of Representatives testimony, in which he used his bald spot to explain a complex point about ice age cycles, as “a moment of Schneider-like brilliance.”

In just the past year, the high-energy Alley has authored a book, Earth: The Operators’ Manual and co-authored another book, The Fate of Greenland. He is the host of a three-part public broadcasting documentary based on the Operators’ Manual book, the second installment of which is expected to be broadcast in early 2012.

The Institute for Scientific Information has recognized Alley with its coveted “highly cited researcher” designation, reflecting the high frequency with which his scientific reports are sited by his science peers.

The jury consisting of Santer, Stanford Professor and Chair of the Economics Department Larry Goulder, and Yale Forum Editor Bud Ward reviewed nominations from a broad spectrum of climate science and communications professionals. The jury decided unanimously that Alley “exemplifies the rare ability to be both a superb scientist and superior communicator in the mold of Stephen Schneider.”

Climate One Founder Greg Dalton announced the Alley selection in Boulder, Co., on August 26 as part of a three-day workshop honoring Schneider’s climate science research and communications legacy. The award is underwritten by the Climate Works Foundation  and energy entrepreneur Michael Haas.

Calling Schneider “hugely successful at making science useful to the public,” Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, said it was “humbling” to receive the award in honor of Schneider’s work.

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