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Isaac Held

Isaac Held

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Isaac Held is an American meteorologist. He is currently head of the Weather
and Atmospheric Dynamics Group at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory is a laboratory in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration /Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research . The current director is Dr. V...

.
Held was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

 in 2003.

Biography


Born to refugee parents in Ulm, Germany in 1948, Held came to Minnesota
with his family at the age of 4. His father died when he was only eight and he
and his brother were raised by his mother Bertha, a Holocaust survivor who
worked as a seamstress. Held did his undergraduate work in physics
at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in 1969 and started a
graduate program in theoretical physics at the State University of
New York at Stony Brook. While there, he
discovered climate science which led to his transferring
to the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

,
where he completed his Ph.D. in 1976 under the supervision of Syukuro Manabe
Syukuro Manabe
is a Japanese meteorologist and climatologist who pioneered the use of computers to simulate global climate change and natural climate variations.-Scientific accomplishments:...

. After a brief stint as a postdoctoral
fellow at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, Held returned to Princeton to join
the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
The Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory is a laboratory in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration /Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research . The current director is Dr. V...

 in 1978. He currently heads
the Weather and Atmospheric Dynamics Group at the laboratory and teaches
in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program at Princeton University.

Research


Held's research has had two major themes. The first is understanding
how the earth's climate responds to changes in the amount of solar
radiation hitting the planet or to the concentration of greenhouse gasses
in the atmosphere. His early work highlighted the importance of the lapse rate
Lapse rate
The lapse rate is defined as the rate of decrease with height for an atmospheric variable. The variable involved is temperature unless specified otherwise. The terminology arises from the word lapse in the sense of a decrease or decline; thus, the lapse rate is the rate of decrease with height and...

 in determining the climate's response to radiation changes. Held has continued to be
concerned with how global warming can alter both the cycle of water
and the distribution of winds on earth. In a paper published in 2006 with
Brian Soden, he showed that this increase in precipitation might nonetheless
be associated with a slowdown of the Walker circulation
Walker circulation
The Walker circulation, also known as the Walker cell, is a conceptual model of the air flow in the tropics in the lower atmosphere . According to this model parcels of air follow a closed circulation in the zonal and vertical directions...

.

The second theme of Held's research is the general circulation of the atmosphere. In one of his
earliest papers , he showed that when a region is unstable
to the large-scale planetary waves known as Rossby waves, the propagation
of waves out of this region results in an easterly (westward) acceleration, which generates jet streams in midlatitudes.
In contrast, regions in which these
waves break experience an eastward (westerly) acceleration .
Held also developed a theory for the Hadley circulation that would exist in the absence of atmospheric turbulence
.

Awards and honors

  • 1987: Meisinger Award, American Meteorological Society
    American Meteorological Society
    The American Meteorological Society promotes the development and dissemination of information and education on the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences and the advancement of their professional applications. Founded in 1919, the American Meteorological Society has a membership...


  • 1991: Fellow, American Meteorological Society
    American Meteorological Society
    The American Meteorological Society promotes the development and dissemination of information and education on the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences and the advancement of their professional applications. Founded in 1919, the American Meteorological Society has a membership...


  • 1995: Fellow, American Geophysical Union
    American Geophysical Union
    The American Geophysical Union is a nonprofit organization of geophysicists, consisting of over 50,000 members from over 135 countries. AGU's activities are focused on the organization and dissemination of scientific information in the interdisciplinary and international field of geophysics...


  • 2003: Elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...


  • 2008: Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal
    Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal
    The Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal is the highest award for atmospheric science of the American Meteorological Society. It is presented to individual scientists, who receive a medal...

    , American Meteorological Society
    American Meteorological Society
    The American Meteorological Society promotes the development and dissemination of information and education on the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences and the advancement of their professional applications. Founded in 1919, the American Meteorological Society has a membership...


External links