Richard B. Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences is today the recipient of the 2015 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Climate Change.
Alley is recognized for his "pioneering research" into the "mechanics of ice and its implications for abrupt climate change," according to the jury citation.
The award, which was established in 2008 by the financial group BBVA in Spain and is presented in eight categories: basic sciences; biomedicine; ecology and conservation biology; information and communication technologies; economics, finance and management; contemporary music: climate change; and development cooperation consists of 400,000 Euros, a diploma and a commemorative art work. They are intended to support and recognize individuals and teams working for a better future for people through the advancement of knowledge, innovation and culture and the dissemination of these to society.
"Climate change doesn't just mean the globe is warming," said Susan L. Brantley, Distinguished Professor of Geoscience and director of the Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute. "Richard Alley is the premier ice specialist in the world and has done more than anyone to educate us about changing and moving polar ice. Richard and I have worked together for many years in Penn State's Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and I am exceedingly proud of his accomplishments. This award is richly deserved."
Alley is both a superb climate scientist and science communicator. His discovery that climate change can occur abruptly over decades, rather than over long time scales, and his ability to convey this to the public through his popular writing make him an important figure in climate change. His studies of Antarctic ice streams help in understanding ice-bed interactions with implications for fast glacier flow and sea-level change, and for interpretation of geological records, climatic changes and mountain-belt evolution.
A prolific researcher, Alley finds time to talk to school children as well as the media and to teach graduate and undergraduate students at the university. He is the author of more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers, several textbooks and two popular books, "The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future," Princeton Press (2000) and "Earth -- The Operators' Manual," Norton (2011). He was the host of the Public Broadcasting System's three part series "Earth -- The Operators' Manual."
Alley is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a foreign member of the Royal Society (UK), a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, and the Geological Society of America. He has received numerous awards for his scientific endeavors and his communication of science.