„Pioneering contributions to the development of Earth system models“: EGU awards

04/07/2011 - For his role in helping to understand mechanisms of glacial climate change, Andrey Ganopolski of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has been honoured by the European Geosciences Union (EGU). He was awarded the Milutin Milankovic Medal in Vienna this week “for his pioneering contributions to the development of Earth system models of intermediate complexity”, the EGU stated. These models – systems of mathematical equations representing processes in the atmosphere, oceans and other planetary compartments – show high computational efficiency. They allow scientists to perform more and longer projections, in contrast to state-of-the-art Earth system models. For the first time, Ganopolski and his collaborators made it possible to realistically simulate and explain some important aspects of transitions between glacial and interglacial periods – providing important insights which also help to assess anthropogenic global warming.
 „Pioneering contributions to the development of Earth system models“: EGU awards
Andrey Ganopolski

“Solving the mystery of glacial cycles, which has attracted much attention from scientists over the past two centuries, not only aims at satisfying natural human curiosity”, Ganopolski says. “It is also important as the proof of our ability to understand and predict climate changes." Glacial cycles represent the most dramatic natural climate oscillations over the past millions of years. Some of the factors involved are the carbon cycle, atmospheric dust, ice sheets instability, and ocean circulation.

Ganopolski, born in 1960 in Russia, a physicist, works as a senior scientist in PIK’s research domain “Earth System Analysis”. He is also lead author of the chapter on paleoclimate for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014). The Milankovic Medal is one of the most prestigious international awards in the field of climate research.

With the “outstanding young scientist award” the EGU also honours Reik Donner PIK. His work focuses on the development of advanced nonlinear methods of time series analysis and their application to climate-related questions. This “highly innovative” approach, the EGU states, can serve, for instance, to identify  tipping points in the climate system, on the basis of paleoclimatic data. The analysis of complex networks at first sight is quite abstract – but may provide “a new paradigm for analysing and modelling geoscientific systems”, Donner says. The physicist, born in 1977, works as a research associate in PIK’s research domain “Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods”.

Reik Donner

Reik Donner


- Andrey Ganopolski
- Earth system models of intermediate complexity
- Reik Donner
- ECONS project (Evolving Complex Networks)