The ICTP Prize is awarded annually to young scientists from developing countries who have made outstanding and original contributions to physics.
Rondrotiana Barimalala of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the Norwegian Research Center, Bjerkeness Center for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway, and Narendra Ojha of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India, were awarded the 2021 ICTP Prize for their important work on diverse aspects of climate change in Africa and Asia.
The recipients of the 2021 ICTP Prize will be honoured at a ceremony at ICTP to be held on Wednesday 27 July 2022 at 15.00 hrs in the Budinich Lecture Hall on the ICTP campus.
An outline of the Ceremony follows:
Rondrotiana Barimalala will give a talk on "The Southern African Rainfall: Modulation of Large-Scale Signals by Regional Processes"
Abstract: The tropical-subtropical convergence zones, including the South Pacific, South Atlantic, and South Indian Ocean Convergence Zones (SPCZ, SACZ, and SICZ, respectively), are important features of the Southern Hemisphere climate during austral summer. In the southern African regions, the SICZ plays a crucial role on rainfall variability and mean and is forced by different factors that interact with each other at various spatial and temporal scales.
Unlike the SPCZ and SACZ, which are fed by direct moisture transport from the southeast Pacific and the South Atlantic, respectively, the mountainous island of Madagascar, approximately spanning over 15° of latitude, prevents such a direct transport from the southwest Indian Ocean into mainland southern Africa. Instead, the easterly moisture flux from the Mascarene high is deflected first to the south of Madagascar and then northwestward around the Mozambique Channel Trough.
By using regional climate models, we found that a flatter than the actual topography over Madagascar leads to a strengthening of the SICZ. Anomalously high easterly moisture fluxes are therefore transported from the Indian Ocean and the Mozambique Channel. These in turn trigger a significant increase in precipitation over southern Africa extending from Mozambique to Angola and a decrease in rainfall over Madagascar. These results have important implications for the improvement of the representation of southern African rainfall mean state and variability, which has been identified as a persisting issue in different generations of state-of-the-art climate models.
Biosketch: Rondrotiana Barimalala recently joined the Norwegian Research Center, Bergen, as a Senior Researcher. Her work focuses on Southern and Eastern African climate, as well as on linking climate research and services. Rondrotiana was one of the first set of ICTP Earth System Physics Diploma students, graduating in 2007. She, then, pursued her PhD through the joint program between the University of Trieste, OGS and ICTP. She spent a year and half of her PhD studies at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta through a collaboration between ICTP and Georgia Tech. Her PhD was on teleconnection between the tropical Atlantic, northern Indian Ocean and the Indian monsoon, under the supervision of Dr. Fred Kucharski, Dr. Annalisa Bracco and Dr. Alessandro Crise. Rondrotiana was a recipient of the IPCC scholarship 2011, as well as the Schlumberger fellowship for women in science.
Before moving to Bergen, Rondrotiana was a researcher at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, under the “ Future Climate For Africa” programme. Her work particularly focused on understanding the driving mechanisms of the southern African climate. She was also a recipient of the “Future Leader, African Independent Researcher” fellowship by the UK Royal Society, as well as a fellow of the Climate Research for Development program by the African Academy of Sciences. Rondrotiana was a lead author of the Sixth Assessment report of the IPCC, working group I.
Narendra Ojha will give a talk on "Modeling of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols over the Indian subcontinent"
Abstract: Atmospheric chemistry and dynamics over the Indian subcontinent profoundly impact the air quality and climate over regional to global scales. Despite of remarkably diverse natural and anthropogenic processes over Indian subcontinent, the observations are sparse and often limited to few chemical species. In this regard, we performed atmospheric modeling to unravel the impacts of emissions, chemistry, and dynamics on trace gases and aerosols. Model results reveal significant contribution of the crop-residue burning in post-monsoon to fine particulate matter over the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP). In addition, the stagnant atmospheric conditions during winter trap the local anthropogenic emissions leading to the widespread air pollution across IGP. In sharp contrast, the hotspots of volatile organic compounds over western coast and northeast were linked to natural biogenic processes. Model could also resolve the topography however still had limitation in reproducing local-scale dynamics above Himalaya. We show that machine learning can complement atmospheric modeling to unravel pollution-meteorology feedbacks over the fragile but complex Himalayan ecosystem.
Biosketch: Dr. Narendra Ojha is a faculty member in the Space and Atmospheric Sciences division of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, India since May 2018. During his PhD (2007-2013) at ARIES, Nainital, he studied the distribution of atmospheric ozone by performing balloon-borne and ground-based observations. He worked extensively on global and regional-scale modeling with focus over India and Europe during his 4-year postdoctoral tenure at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany. His current interests include pollution-meteorology feedbacks, detailed chemical mechanisms, and dynamics over complex terrains (Himalaya). He is an editor for international journal - Climanosco, an innovative platform for interactions between climate scientists and the public. He is an author / co-author on 51 peer-reviewed publications and several book chapters.
An introduction to the 2021 ICTP Prize winners will be delivered by Prof. Fred Kucharski, ESP/ICTP.
Each year, the ICTP Prize is given in honour of a scientist who has made outstanding contributions to the field in which the prize is given. The 2021 ICTP Prize is dedicated to the memory of Jacob Bjerknes, who discovered the connection between sea surface temperature and easterly winds anomalies in the equatorial Pacific.
The 2021 ICTP Prize Ceremony takes place during the 3rd Summer School on Theory, Mechanisms and Hierarchical Modeling of Climate Dynamics: Tropical Oceans, ENSO and their teleconnections | (smr 3727). For more information on the School, see: https://indico.ictp.it/event/9817/