The Warren Washington Research and Leadership Medal is presented to individuals who are recognized for the combination of highly significant research and distinguished scientific leadership in the atmospheric and related sciences.
Nominations are considered by a committee comprised of two members each from the Atmospheric, Hydrologic, and Oceanographic Research Awards Committees, which makes a recommendation for final approval by AMS Council. The chair and chair-elect of the committee shall rotate each year among the three Research Awards Committees.
An internationally recognized expert in atmospheric science and climate research, Warren Washington specializes in computer modeling of Earth's climate.
Washington became one of the first developers of groundbreaking atmospheric computer models in collaboration with Akira Kasahara when he came to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in the early 1960s. These computer models, which use fundamental laws of physics to predict future states of the atmosphere, have helped scientists understand climate change. As his research progressed, Washington worked to incorporate additional aspects of the climate system into models, including the oceans and sea ice.
Washington, a senior scientist at NCAR, has engaged in research for over 50 years and has given advice, testimony, and lectures on global climate change. An Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling, written by Washington and Claire Parkinson, is a standard reference in the field.
Washington served as a science advisor in the presidential administrations of Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, and he also served as chair of the National Science Board. He is a past President of the American Meteorological Society, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and a Vice President of the American Philosophical Society. He is also an elected member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In 2010, Washington was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama, the nation's highest science award "for his development and use of global climate models to understand climate and explain the role of human activities and natural processes in the Earth's climate system and for his work to support a diverse science and engineering workforce."
As the second African-American to earn a doctorate in the atmospheric sciences, Washington has served as a role model for generations of young researchers from many backgrounds. He has mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students. In 1999, he won the Dr. Charles Anderson Award from the American Meteorological Society "for pioneering efforts as a mentor and passionate support of individuals, educational programs, and outreach initiatives designed to foster a diverse population of atmospheric scientists."