2011: Dave Williamson
David Williamson is the recipient of the 2011 CESM Distinguished Achievement Award. David Williamson is long overdue recognition for his significant contributions to CESM and community modeling at NCAR. His science contributions are particularly noteworthy as more often than not they were breakthrough, innovative research activities for global modeling in general and not just for CESM. Dave is one of the pioneers of the present-day discretization methods for the atmospheric primitive equations used in CESM. He was also heavily involved in addressing the problems of discretization on a sphere exploring the use of geodesic or hexagonal grids. It is only today, 40 years later, that hexagonal and related regular geodesic grids have become available in CESM and other global models, testifying to the foresight Williamson displayed at this early time. Dave is also a world leader in the development of semi-Lagrangian techniques, today used in CESM and a large number of modeling centers. Possibly his most widely used contribution is a series of numerical tests designed to expose the strengths and weaknesses of new numerical techniques, tests that have come to play a central role for CESM atmosphere testing, and worldwide in the field of atmospheric model development.
Dave's leadership role in NCAR community modeling activities has been crucial in raising those to an international stature, and has visibly benefited the progress of the field. Chief among those are his essential contribution in making the NCAR nascent modeling capabilities available to the academic community via the NCAR Community Climate/ Community Forecast Model mechanism of which CESM is a present day descendant. His steady, over many years, contributions to WMO's Joint Scientific Committee's Working Group for Numerical Experimentation; his lead role and CESM's participation in other high-profile international activities, such as the AMIP (Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project), and the newly formed Aqua-Planet Experiment (APE) initiative have only cemented CESM's credibility in the climate modeling community as a whole.
Dave continues to rigorously test the behavior of CESM with research into the dependence of climate simulations on the horizontal, vertical and temporal resolution in the atmosphere. His ongoing invaluable insight into the models' behavior lends greater credibility to all research and applications performed with CESM.