NOAA 2004-066
Contact: Jana Goldman

NOAA News Releases 2004
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Susan Solomon, a leading atmospheric scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aeronomy Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., was awarded the 2004 Blue Planet Prize for her pioneering work in identifying the mechanism that produces the Antarctic ozone hole and contributions towards the protection of the ozone layer. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Blue Planet Prize is a prestigious international award that recognizes individuals and organizations who have made major contributions to solving global environmental problems. This year marks the 13th awarding of the Blue Planet Prize, which is sponsored by Japan’s Asahi Glass Foundation. The award carries a prize of fifty million yen, or about $460,000.

Solomon is the second NOAA scientist to receive the honor. In 1992, Syukuro Manabe, of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., was awarded the prize for his pioneering research for predicting climate change by numerical models and quantifying the effects of greenhouse gases.

“NOAA is fortunate to have such a dedicated scientist such as Susan Solomon whose work embodies the mission of the agency–to predict and protect the environment,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “Dr. Solomon’s research helps to advance the understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere so that we may take actions that will preserve it for the benefit of current and future generations.”

Solomon was the leading scientist in identifying the cause of the Antarctic ozone hole, an unexpected geophysical phenomenon that began in about the early 1980s. Solomon and her colleagues suggested that chemical reactions involving man-made chlorine interacting with icy clouds in the cold polar stratosphere could be responsible for the unprecedented losses of ozone during the Antarctic springtime.

She then led two U.S. scientific expeditions to Antarctica in 1986 and 1987 that succeeded in providing key observations that supported her theory. In 1994, an Antarctic glacier was named in her honor in recognition of her discovery of the cause of the ozone hole, and in 1999 she received the U.S. National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor.

Solomon’s recent work has included studies to unravel the connections between the severe ozone depletion in the Antarctic ozone layer and the climate at the Antarctic surface, as well as investigations of chemistry and climate processes.

Solomon’s research and insights have long been a scientific cornerstone of the United Nations Montreal Protocol, the international agreement to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. In that regard, she has been a leader in the Protocol’s scientific panel that communicates the evolving scientific understanding about the ozone layer to the more than 180 nations that have signed on to the Protocol. The Montreal Protocol agreement has successfully addressed the use of ozone-depleting compounds, such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, throughout the world.

Solomon received her Ph.D. degree in chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1981 and has been a research scientist at NOAA's Aeronomy Laboratory since that time. She is the recipient of many other honors and awards, including the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award; the Rossby Research Medal, the highest honor given by the American Meteorological Society; and the Montreal Protocol 10th Anniversary Award from the United Nations Environment Programme. She is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a foreign member of the Academia Europaea and a foreign associate of the French Academy of Sciences.

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