Columbia, Princeton Scientists Share 2017 Vetlesen Prize
Two scientists who untangled the complex forces that drive El Niño, the world’s most powerful weather cycle, have won the 2017 Vetlesen Prize for achievement in earth sciences. The $250,000 award will go to S. George Philander of Princeton University and Mark A. Cane of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
The men laid out the cyclic interaction of winds and currents that sweep the tropical Pacific Ocean every two to seven years, affecting weather across the world. Their work led to practical forecasts of such swings; institutions worldwide now monitor warning signs to help prepare for crop planting, disease control, and floods or droughts.
The Vetlesen Prize was established in 1959 by the New York-based G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, and is administered by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. It is awarded for “scientific achievement resulting in a clearer understanding of the Earth, its history, or its relation to the universe.”
Cane and Philander will receive this year’s prize in April in a ceremony at Columbia University.