Prof. Sobel Wins Award to Help Launch New Extreme Weather Initiative

Jan 16 2014 | By Holly Evarts | Photo: Eileen Barroso

Superstorm Sandy expert Adam Sobel is getting ready to launch a new initiative on extreme weather, thanks to a €250,000 two-year AXA Award in Climate and Extreme Weather he has just received from the AXA Research Fund. He and colleagues from Columbia Engineering, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and several other schools and groups at Columbia will use the award to study the local dynamics and global patterns of extreme precipitation and other extreme weather events.

Adam Sobel

“This award will enable my colleagues and me to work towards our vision of a broadly conceived ‘science of extremes,’ and I am deeply honored and grateful to receive it,” says Sobel, professor of applied physics and applied mathematics and of earth and environmental sciences. Sobel is organizing an interdisciplinary team, including researchers from the Law School and the School of International and Public Affairs, that is working to establish a new research initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate.

“This initiative will take advantage of the broad expertise that already exists across the University in both the science of extreme weather events—like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and heat waves—and their relation to climate,” notes Sobel, who is also a professor at Lamont-Doherty. “It will also explore both the societal impacts of these events and possible engineering solutions. Receiving this award is great as it’s the first external support to our new emerging initiative and will really help seed our program.”

The AXA Research Fund recently established the AXA Awards to spur and accelerate the pace of academic innovation, and Sobel is the first AXA awardee. The awards are designed to support mid-career researchers with extremely high potential for innovation in their fields and are given by AXA’s Scientific Board following recommendations from independent search committees composed of eminent academics.