Richard B. Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, was named the recipient of the 2012 American Association for the Advancement of Science Public Engagement in Science Award.
He received this award at the 2013 AAAS annual meeting for "his decades-long, broad-based and exceptionally effective efforts communicating the best of climate science to excite the interests of the general public and policy makers."
The AAAS Award for Public Engagement with Science, established in 1987, recognizes scientists and engineers who make outstanding contributions to the "popularization of science." The award conveys a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, complimentary registration and travel to the AAAS annual meeting.
Alley has provided advice and scientific information on climate change to the White House and to policymakers through briefings, testimonies, fact-finding trips and written materials.
His efforts to engage the public in science include the PBS miniseries Earth: The Operators' Manual, based on the book he wrote, and more than a dozen science documentaries. He regularly lectures to a wide range of groups including his peers, elementary-school students, scouts and church groups. He helped develop an undergraduate course that took him and his students to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of Mesa Verde.
Alley has made more than a dozen field expeditions to ice sheets and glaciers. Recently he was honored with the Heinz Award for leadership in climate and polar studies and "U.S. News and World Report" included him in its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Leadership Hall of Fame.
His work has helped show that past regional to global climate changes occurred as rapidly as a few years. These changes were larger than any experienced by agricultural or industrial humans to date. He uses data analysis and modeling to explore the future of the large ice sheets and their effects on sea-level change, focusing on ice-bed interactions with implications for rapid glacier flow and sea-level change, interpretation of geological records, climate changes and mountain-belt evolution. He contributed extensively to the methods available for measuring ice-core properties and for the accurate and confident conversion of well-dated histories of temperature, accumulation rates and other paleoclimatic variables.