AAPT.org - American Association of Physics Teachers

AAPT Announces 2011 Klopsteg Memorial Award Winner is Dr. James E. Hansen


College Park, Maryland, April 7, 2011—James E. Hansen, is the 2011 recipient of the Klopsteg Memorial Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Hansen will receive the award on August 3 at the 2011 AAPT Summer Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. The theme of the meeting will be communicating with the public about physics and Hansen's work on global climate change has been an exemplar in this area.

Klopsteg awardees are chosen for their extraordinary accomplishments in communicating the excitement of physics to the general public. Hansen will present a lecture on a physics topic of current significance suitable for nonspecialists, in memory of Paul Klopsteg, AAPT Past President.

Often called the “father of global warming,” Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Earth Sciences Division. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.

Hansen was trained in physics and astronomy in the space science program of James Van Allen at the University of Iowa. He obtained a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics, a M.S. in Astronomy, and a Ph.D. in Physics, all three degrees from the University of Iowa. He participated in the NASA graduate traineeship from 1962 to 1966 and, at the same time, between 1965 and 1966, he was a visiting student at the Institute of Astrophysics at the University of Kyoto and in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Tokyo. Hansen began work at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in 1967.

After graduate school, Hansen continued his work with radiative transfer models and attempting to understand the atmosphere of Venus. He is best known for his research in the field of climatology, his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988 that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to limit the impacts of climate change. He has authored and co-authored an impressive number and variety of scholarly papers about climate change.

Hansen was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996 for his "development of pioneering radiative transfer models and studies of planetary atmospheres; development of simplified and three-dimensional global climate models; explication of climate forcing mechanisms; analysis of current climate trends from observational data; and projections of anthropogenic impacts on the global climate system.”

In 2001, he received the 7th Annual Heinz Award in the Environment for his research on global warming. In 2006 he was listed as one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time Magazine. Also, in 2006, the he was selected to receive the AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility.

In 2007, Hansen shared the US $1 million Dan David Prize for "achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world." In 2008, he was named by EarthSky Communications and a panel of 600 scientist-advisors as the Scientist Communicator of the Year. In 2009, Hansen was awarded the American Meteorological Society’s Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, their highest honor. He was the 2010 winner of the Sophie, Prize, set up in 1997 by Norwegian Jostein Gaarder, for his "key role for the development of our understanding of human-induced climate change." A well known authority on climate change issues, Hansen authored the book, "Storms of My Grandchildren" which was published in 2009 by Bloomsbury USA.

About the Award
Established in 1990, this award is given to a notable physicist in memory of Paul Klopsteg. The Klopsteg Memorial Award recipient is asked to make a major presentation at an AAPT Summer Meeting on a topic of current significance suitable for non-specialists.

Previous Awardees:
2010 Robert Scherrer, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
2009 Lee Smolin, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, ON
2008 Michio Kaku, City University of New York, New York, NY
2007 Neil deGrasse Tyson, Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
2006 Lisa Randall, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
2005 Wendy Freedman, Carnegie Observatories, Pasadena, CA
2004 Anton Zeilinger, University of Vienna, Austria

About AAPT
AAPT is an international organization for physics educators, physicists, and industrial scientists—with more than 10,000 members worldwide. The association is dedicated to providing the most current resources and up-to-date research needed to enhance a physics educator's professional development. The results are not only a deeper appreciation of the teaching profession, but most importantly, more enthusiastic involvement from their students. Founded in 1930, AAPT is headquartered in the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland.

For more information: Contact Marilyn Gardner, Director of Communications, mgardner@aapt.org, (301) 209-3306, (301) 209-0845 (Fax), www.aapt.org.