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The 2016 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Honors is presented to Linda Mearns.

The 2016 Distinguished Scholarship Award is going to Linda Mearns for her pioneering and agenda-setting contributions to the field of climate change assessment science, particularly her sustained efforts to understand how climate change will be translated into climate variability and extremes and to model climate change at the regional level. She has made unparalleled contributions to international and national climate change assessment efforts, including authorship on four assessment reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and has led numerous climate assessment projects, including directorship of the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program. “Linda’s sustained and impressive record of scholarship makes her highly deserving of this award.”

Citation for Linda Mearns follows. 


Linda Mearns, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Linda Mearns

Linda Mearns is a leading scholar in the fields of geography and climate science. Trained as a Ph.D. geographer at UCLA, she has spent most of her career as a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado where she serves as Director of NCAR’s Weather and Climate Impacts Assessment Science Program and Head of the Regional Integrated Sciences Collective (RISC).

Linda is a leader in the development of climate change assessment science. Her contributions in this area are numerous and include foundational work on estimation of climate change impacts on agro-ecosystems, pioneering studies of dynamical downscaling in regional climate models, and important contributions to understanding of sources of uncertainty in climate change projections. Her landmark papers include highly cited journal articles in Science, the Journal of Geophysical Research, Journal of Climate and Climatic Change.

Linda has also made major contributions to international climate change assessment efforts, including authorship on the second, third, fourth, and fifth IPCC Assessment reports. It is especially noteworthy that Linda was an author for two chapters of the IPCC Third Assessment report, one for Working Group I (Physical Science) and another for Working Group II (Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability). This accomplishment highlights Linda’s remarkable capacity to bridge the physical and human dimensions of climate change.

The North American Regional Climate Change Program (NARCCAP) represents another of Linda’s invaluable contributions to the climate assessment science. Linda was the lead principal investigator of this recent (>$10 million) effort, coordinating six research teams in the preparation of a suite of dynamically-downscaled projections for North America. Hundreds of research and assessment efforts have employed these high-resolution NARCCAP scenarios, and geographers, in particular, have made extensive use of the scenarios in their research and outreach to stakeholders and policymakers.

Although Linda is at a research center rather than a university, she has also played an important role in fostering the next generation of scientists through her mentorship of junior scholars. For more than three decades, she has supported and encouraged the careers of countless junior scientists, especially women climatologists, many of whom have gone on to pursue highly successful careers in geography and elsewhere. In addition to support of female scientists, Linda has also been an advocate for many other underrepresented groups in science, particularly developing world scientists within the IPCC.

As summarized by one of her letters of support, Linda “demonstrates a brand of sustained, scientific leadership that is expanded by a geographic perspective, and is essential to address the needs of the future.” For these reasons, the 2016 AAG Distinguished Scholarship Award is awarded to Linda Mearns.