Climate researcher and Distinguished Professor Raymond Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Center (CSRC) and co-director of the Northeast Climate Science Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has received the Roy J. Zuckerberg Endowed Leadership Award “in recognition of his courage, conviction and selflessness in devoting his time and talent to helping the University of Massachusetts to accomplish its goals.”
Applicants for the two-year appointment, which is effective on July 1, are judged by a committee with members from each of the five UMass campuses and the president’s office. UMass Amherst Provost James V. Staros recently announced Bradley’s selection. The winner must have made an impact as a leader in research, teaching or service on a local, national or international level.
Over the past five years, Bradley has led his CSRC colleagues in research to understand how the climate system operates and how climate has changed over time. He says, “Together, we have achieved a very high profile, placing more than 25 papers over the past five years in leading scientific journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Geoscience and Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.”
“This reputation no doubt helped us to be selected by the U.S. Department of the Interior for the Northeast Climate Science Center, one of only eight in the nation focused on present and future climate and the impacts of climate change on the natural and cultural resources. In addition, Governor Deval Patrick recently announced that the Commonwealth will establish the Office of State Climatologist at the university, to strengthen communication about climate change and its impacts on our region.”
The Roy J. Zuckerberg Endowed Leadership Award has three primary aims: to foster leadership by rewarding faculty and staff of good character and high standards who have distinguished themselves in service to the university, to encourage leadership by focusing attention upon leadership’s profound importance to the future of public higher education in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and to celebrate service to the university by fostering dialogue among the campuses about their shared mission, and further collaboration of their collective goals.
Bradley believes that “communicating accurate information about climate change in general, and the significance of global warming in particular, is of crucial importance so that the public and policy makers can make well-informed decisions about relevant actions.” He has given many media interviews and public lectures, briefed Gov. Patrick, other state and federal representatives and staffers, and testified to the U.S. Senate on climate research.
In addition, Bradley has given many lectures around the world and written articles and books for both professional and lay audiences, “to make our current understanding of climate science widely available and broadly accessible.” These include a book for high school students, “Climate Change and Society,” and contributions to realclimate.org, a key resource for the media and the public for accurate climate information.
“Through all of these activities, I believe that I have had an impact on people’s understanding of the science of climate change, its significance for our future, and the political issues that surround the topic,” Bradley notes.
The award equals $100,000 over two years, which includes $30,000 to support research, teaching or service linked to a demonstration of leadership and an award stipend of $20,000. “Awardees will have distinguished themselves through their leadership and commitment to the goals and mission of the University of Massachusetts, as well as public education more generally, especially in the impact they have had on the students of the university,” an award spokesperson says.
Bradley plans to use the Zuckerberg funds to invest in research to further understand natural climate variations, because “whatever changes in climate may be brought about by human activities, they will be superimposed on the underlying natural variations in climate that began long before global warming became an issue,” and it is important to understand these variations and their causes.
Second, he hopes to convey how expected future changes in climate may impact the region in which we live. “I believe that the public and their political representatives are not fully aware of the significant changes that are likely to occur if carbon dioxide emissions continue at their current rate,” he notes. “I will therefore prepare specific materials about the probable impacts of climate change on each congressional district across the Northeast, using simple graphics and imagery to illustrate how climate is likely to change, and what the consequences will be for forests, rivers, agriculture, transportation, coastal communities and so on.”
Finally, Bradley plans to hold a seminar, “Climate Change Impacts on New England,” for interested faculty from the entire UMass system and the Five Colleges. “Many people in the region are studying this topic from different perspectives such as ecology, hydrology, public health, urban planning, transportation, fisheries, coastal hazards and more. This seminar would provide a forum for students and faculty members to share their interests, and perhaps develop research collaborations.”