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Kevin Trenberth, Distinguished Senior Scientist

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Kevin Trenberth Surface Water Prize
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About Kevin

Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth is a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. From New Zealand, he obtained his Sc. D. in meteorology in 1972 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a lead author of the 1995, 2001 and 2007 Scientific Assessment of Climate Change reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize which went to the IPCC. He served from 1999 to 2006 on the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and he chaired the WCRP Observation and Assimilation Panel from 2004 to 2010 and chaired the Global Energy and Water Exchanges (GEWEX) scientific steering group from 2010-2013; he is still a member and chairs the 7th International Scientific Conference on the Global Water and Energy Cycle Committee. He has also served on many national committees. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the American Association for Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. In 2000 he received the Jule G. Charney award from the AMS; in 2003 he was given the NCAR Distinguished Achievement Award; in 2013 he was awarded the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, and he received the Climate Communication Prize from AGU. He edited a 788 page book Climate System Modeling, published in 1992 and has published 520 scientific articles or papers, including 60 books or book chapters, and over 235 refereed journal articles. He has given many invited scientific talks as well as appearing in a number of television, radio programs and newspaper articles. He is listed among the top 20 authors in highest citations in all of geophysics.

Research Interests

Kevin Trenberth has been prominent in all aspects of climate variability and climate change research and is a leader in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments and in the World Climate Research Programme. Recently his primary research has focused on the global energy and water cycles and how they are changing. His work mainly involves empirical studies and quantitative diagnostic calculations. Trenberth is a primary advocate for the need to develop a climate information system that is an imperative for adaptation to climate change. He has evaluated many datasets and been the primary promoter of the need to reanalyze global data into fields in ways that meet climate requirements for continuity and consistency.

"The environment in which all storms form has changed owing to human activities."
Kevin Trenberth, 2011 on attribution of extremes to climate change.

Research Topics

  • Interannual variability of climate and El Niño
  • Climate change and global warming
  • The heat and energy cycles
  • The water cycle and atmospheric moisture budget
  • The mass of the atmosphere
  • Datasets and reanalysis
  • The global climate observing system
  • Hurricanes and climate change