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NRI scientist V. Ramanathan wins prestigious Cozzarelli prize


Washington, March 13, 2007
Sudesh Mehta

NRI scientist, Dr. V Ramanathan of University of California, San Diego, along with other researchers Jeffrey Vincent and Maximilian Auffhammer share Prestigious Cozzarelli Prize for 2007

The prize is named for Nick Cozzarelli, the late editor-in-chief of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). This year’s awards will be presented at the PNAS Editorial Board Meeting on April 29, 2007, in Washington, D.C. It was among the six papers awarded the Cozzarelli Paper of the Year Prize by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Papers receiving the Cozzarelli Prize were chosen from the 3,300 research articles published in PNAS in 2006 and represent the six broadly defined classes under which the National Academy of Sciences is organized.

PNAS is one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. Since its establishment in 1914, it continues to publish cutting-edge research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy. Coverage in PNAS spans the biological, physical, and social sciences.

A paper co-authored by two UC San Diego researchers showing that reductions of air pollution could create agricultural benefits in one of the world's poorest regions was one of six awarded the Cozzarelli Paper of the Year Prize by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

UC San Diego scientists V. “Ram” Ramanathan, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography climate scientist and Jeffrey Vincent, an economist in the Graduate School of International Affairs and Pacifc Studies, collaborated with Maximilian Auffhammer of UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources on the winning paper, entitled “Integrated model shows that atmospheric brown clouds and greenhouse gases have reduced rice harvests in India,” which appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of PNAS. The paper related trends in Indian rice production to the influence of climate trends from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Rice harvests increased dramatically in India during the "Green Revolution" of the 1960s and 1970s, making the country self-sufficient in its staple food. Harvest growth has slowed since the mid-1980s, however, raising concerns that food shortages could recur in this densely populated developing nation. Several explanations for the slowdown have been proposed, but until this paper, none had taken into account the complex interactions of two pollution-related sources of climate change: atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs), which form from soot and other fine particles in the air (collectively termed aerosols), and the better-known problem of global warming caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

In the PNAS paper, Auffhammer, Ramanathan and Vincent analyzed historical data on Indian rice harvests and examined the combined effects of atmospheric brown clouds and greenhouse gases on growing conditions. They found that the combined effects were negative and were greater after the mid-1980s than before, coinciding with the observed slowdown in harvest growth. They estimated that harvests would have been 20 to 25 percent higher during some years in the 1990s if the negative climate impacts had not occurred.









  • Dr. V. Ramanathan, Chief Scientist
  • 1974 Ph.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA Planetary Atmospheres
  • 1970 M.Sc. Indian Institute of Science, India Engineering
  • 1965 B.E. Annamalai University, India Engineering
  • Specialization: Radiative transfer in the atmosphere and ocean
    Air-sea interactions
    Biogeochemical cycle
  • Prof. Ramanathan is the Alderson Professor of Ocean Sciences at SIO, and the Director of SIO's Center for Atmospheric Sciences. He received his Ph.D. in Planetary Atmospheres in 1974 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "Ram" has been in the forefront of atmospheric and climate research since then, and was the first to demonstrate that a significant number of anthropogenic trace gases, including chlorofluorocarbons, have strong greenhouse effect potentials that need consideration in a "global warming" scenario.
  • Ram was a pioneering scientist with the NASA Langley Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) of 1985-90. Ram held faculty positions at Colorado State University and the University of Chicago before joining SIO/UCSD in 1990. While at SIO, Ram has carried out fundamental and pathfinding research into the thermodynamics of tropical deep convection, physics of radiative transfer in clouds, and the global climatic effects of anthropogenic tropospheric aerosol. In 2002 Ram was elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences. Ram's other numerous awards include the American Meteorological Society's Rossby Medal, the Buys Ballot Medal of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, and NASA's Medal for Outstanding Scientific Achievement.