2014: Marika Holland

Marika’s contributions to the CESM project span 15 years and several versions of the model. Most recently, she served an extended term as the CESM Chief Scientist, helping to shepherd various versions of CESM1 development and inclusion of the model in the recent IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. This progress has been especially noteworthy, because it was achieved during a time of increasing budgetary pressures. After serving a standard two-year term, Marika demonstrated her commitment to the project by selflessly agreeing to remain Chief Scientist for another several months, until a successor could be found.

In addition to holding this recent leadership position atop the CESM project, Marika has a long history of dedication to the polar science community by serving eight years as co-chair of the Polar Climate Working Group. This might be a record for continuous service as a co-chair of any working group and was interrupted only by her ascension to Chief Scientist. During her tenure, the PCWG thrived and grew, amid recognition by the community at large of the increasing importance of the Arctic and Antarctica within the global climate system. A particularly important achievement by Marika during this period was her central contribution to improving CESM’s sea ice model, which has become one of the most accurate in any climate model in the world. Through research by Marika and others, CESM realistically represents the major characteristics of sea ice, due in part to its sophisticated treatment of melt ponds, solar radiation physics, and an ice-thickness distribution. Even using earlier versions of the model, Marika made internationally recognized discoveries in sea ice predictability and the behavior of rapid sea ice changes, documenting abrupt and dramatic short-term losses amid a gradually retreating ice pack. Besides these important scientific contributions, Marika embodies the community ethos of CESM by collaborating willingly and widely with other polar scientists within the PGWG and beyond, in addition to interacting with the broader world of climate modelers and climate-change researchers.

For all of these reasons, Marika is highly deserving of this award and would provide an ideal example of how to combine science, service, and professionalism.

Congratulations Marika!