NOAA 2005-R234
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Dusan Zrnic, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration senior scientist working at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., has received the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. He was among a group of federal senior executives recently honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Development of weather radar during the past 20 years, and its applications in the national interest, have clearly and profoundly benefited from Zrnic’s work and study. His outstanding contributions to meteorological Doppler radar signal processing theory and practice became benchmarks for conceptual designs of the national networks of Doppler weather radars, the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) used by the National Weather Service, Federal Aviation Administration and Air Weather Service for protection of lives and property, and the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) deployed for protection of airport terminals.

The Presidential Rank Award is a prestigious award given to a select group of senior federal executives who have provided exceptional service to the American people over an extended period of time. Executives who have demonstrated strength, integrity, industry and commitment to public trust are nominated for the award by the head of their agency. A panel of private citizens evaluates the candidates, selecting only those who through their personal conduct and results-oriented leadership qualify for referral to the president who makes the final designation.

“It is exceptional for a scientist to receive this prestigious award,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This award is a fitting recognition of the impact of Zrnic’s work on not only the field of radar meteorology, but also for the American people because of the lives saved with the technology he helped develop.”

Zrnic has made pioneering advancements in weather radar science in general, and his work has contributed substantially to recognition of radar signatures of hazardous weather phenomena such as tornadoes, mesocyclones and fronts. This ability has helped forecasters save property and lives through improved warnings and forecasts of impending hazards such as tornadoes, high winds and hail. He contributed to early understanding of tornado wind speeds and, recently, in the measurements of precipitation with polarimetric radars. These measurements offer promise for greatly improved forecasts of precipitation type and amount.

He has devised a novel method to obtain polarimetric information for which he was awarded a patent. Currently the method is being implemented on the NOAA research and development radar for evaluation. Because it allows faster data acquisition and is totally compatible with the existing NEXRAD requirements the upgrade is a very strong candidate for inclusion into the network.

“Zrnic's theoretical and practical contributions are truly landmarks in Doppler and polarimetric radar meteorology,” said James F. Kimpel, director of the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

Zrnic transferred his radar expertise to the community by creating advanced graduate and research courses in the area of Doppler and polarimetric weather radar. In addition, he co-authored a book, Doppler Radar and Weather Observations, with R.J. Doviak published in 1984. This work was quickly acknowledged worldwide as the standard reference in its field. The second revised edition appeared in 1993 and contains a one of a kind section dealing with the polarimetric technique that is the forthcoming advancement in weather radar pioneered by Zrnic.

Zrnic's contributions are represented in over 90 peer-reviewed papers. That many of these papers have multiple authors reflects his effective inspiration of students and colleagues, and generous sharing of time and ideas. His personal capabilities are greatly extended through the effectiveness of his work with others, and his guiding of students to the level of becoming competent independent investigators.

The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory leads the way in investigations of all aspects of severe and hazardous weather. NSSL, established in 1964, is part of NOAA Research and the only federally-supported laboratory focused on severe weather. The Lab’s scientists and staff explore new ways to improve understanding of the causes of severe weather and ways to use weather information to assist National Weather Service forecasters, as well as federal, university and private sector partners.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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