Kevin Trenberth

Selected Achievements of Kevin Trenberth


Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth is a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section (CAS) at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He is also affiliated with the University of Auckland. 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 (member 2007-14); and chaired the 2014 7th International Scientific Conference on the Global Water and Energy Cycle Committee.

He has also served on many U.S. national committees. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), 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. In 2017 he was honored with the Roger Revelle medal by AGU. He edited a 788 page book Climate System Modeling, published in 1992 and has published 568 scientific articles or papers, including 67 books or book chapters, and over 280 refereed journal articles. On Google Scholar, there are over 94,200 citations and an H index of 119 (119 papers have over 119 citations). He has given many invited scientific talks as well as appearing in a number of television, radio programs and newspaper articles.

A recent paper explores citations for scientists in all fields and in the broad category of Earth & Environmental Sciences, out of 223,246 scientists who have published 5 or more papers from 1996 to 2017 Kevin Trenberth ranks first.

Ioannidis JPA, Baas J, Klavans R, Boyack KW (2019) A standardized citation metrics author database annotated for scientific field. PLoS Biol 17(8): e3000384.


  • Sc.D Atmospheric Science/Meteorology
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1972
  • B.Sc HONS First Class Mathematics
    University of Canterbury, 1966

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.

The environment in which all storms form has changed owing to human activities

Kevin Trenberth, 2011 on attribution of extremes to climate change

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. However, Trenberth has published on many topics and is highly cited. 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. He has determined the mass of the atmosphere as a fundamental physical quantity and how it varies as water vapor varies, and utilized the conservation constraint to evaluate datasets.

Read more about Kevin's research here

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