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Awarding Science Excellence

ICTP's Filippo Giorgi receives prestigious EGU Medal

Filippo Giorgi, head of ICTP's Earth System Physics section
Filippo Giorgi, head of ICTP's Earth System Physics section

26/10/2017 - Trieste, Italy

ICTP scientist Filippo Giorgi has been awarded the prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Medal by the European Geosciences Union (EGU), Europe’s top association of geoscientists.

The EGU awards the Alexander von Humboldt Medal to scientists of exceptional international standing whose research benefits developing countries. As the head of ICTP’s Earth System Physics section, Giorgi has made tremendous impact on some of the thousands of developing-world scientists who pass through ICTP every year.

Giorgi is an international expert in climate modeling and climate change research. He pioneered the field of regional climate modeling and leads an ICTP team that develops and maintains the RegCM regional climate model system, which is used by a large scientific community worldwide. He has been deeply involved with international efforts at the climate-policy interface, having contributed to all five reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

"I am very happy about this award, as it also recognizes the work done with developing country scientists, which is very important to me," said Giorgi.

The Regional Climate Model system (RegCM) is flexible, portable and easy to use. It can be applied to any region of the world and can be used for a wide range of studies, from processes to paleoclimate and future climate simulations. The model is particularly attractive to scientists from the developing world, explains Giorgi, because it is freely available and comes with strong support from Giorgi and his team at ICTP.

"We have workshops that teach scientists how to use RegCM, and we build a support community where they can ask questions and provide feedbacks," said Giorgi, adding, "We enable users to understand the modeling tools they are using, and I think they really appreciate that. They can apply the model to problems that are of high interest for local conditions in their countries."

In addition to RegCM, Giorgi has led the development of the COordinated Regional Downscaling EXperiment (CORDEX), a programme that coordinates the evaluation and improvement of regional climate downscaling techniques and produces fine-scale (down to a few square kilometers) climate projections for regions worldwide.  His current CORDEX efforts focus on the completion of a new set of climate projections using several different climate models. The hope is that these exercises will produce a more homogenized set of climate projections that could be fed into the next IPCC Assessment Report.

"One problem in the past with these models was that there was a lot of information on Europe and the US, but not so much for more vulnerable regions, such as Africa, Central and South America and Asia. If we can cover these regions with different models it will be a first time to have high resolution information on all world regions, which will be useful for people looking at impacts," Giorgi explains.

Filippo Giorgi obtained a Laurea in Physics from the University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy in 1982 and a PhD from the School of Geophysical Sciences of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 1986. From 1986 to 1998 he was a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, USA. He has been at ICTP since 1998.

Giorgi will receive his prize, and deliver a medal lecture, at the EGU 2018 General Assembly, which will take place in Vienna on 8–13 April.

--Mary Ann Williams