One of World’s Most Highly Cited Professors Awarded Mason Gold Medal by Royal Meteorological Society

Professor Colin O’Dowd, Director of the Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies in the School of Physics at NUI Galway.
May 10 2016 Posted: 09:19 IST

The Royal Meteorological Society has announced that Professor Colin O’Dowd from NUI Galway and one of the world’s most highly cited and influential scientific minds in 2014 and 2015 as cited by Thompson Reuters, has been awarded the 2015 Mason Gold Medal award.

The Society recognises excellence in meteorology and climate science through its medals, awards and prizes. The Mason medal is the most prestigious acknowledgement that the society can award.

Throughout his career, Professor O’Dowd, Director of the Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies in the School of Physics at NUI Galway, has published several hundred scientific articles including 240 peer-reviewed publications. He has provided international leadership in the field of atmospheric aerosol particles. His work has focused on making detailed and careful observations of particles, particularly in the marine atmosphere, and providing novel insights into the advancement of our knowledge of many key processes.

Of his many important contributions, Professor Colin O’Dowd is probably best known for establishing a physical basis for the formation of new particles in the marine atmosphere, first observed by John Aitken in 1898. He has also played a leading role in the establishment of the role of organic matter in new particles formation over terrestrial forests. These findings of new particle formation have provided a firm basis for explaining the re-population of small particles in the atmosphere and the role they subsequently play in cloud formation. 

Professor O’Dowd has made many contributions to the production of sea spray aerosol into the atmosphere and has shown that small sea spray particles are not composed solely of salts but are greatly enriched in organic matter resulting from natural biological detritus on the sea surface. These advances have greatly improved our understanding of the role aerosols play in the atmospheric and climate system.

In addition to his major scientific contributions, Professor O’Dowd has been responsible for developing the Mace Head Atmospheric Research Station on the west coast of Ireland into one of the best equipped and scientifically important World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Global Atmospheric Watch stations in the world. He has given considerable service to the international community through his editorship of Journal of Geophysical Research.

Professor O’Dowd stated: “The Royal Meteorological Society is one of the longest established and most respected meteorological societies in the world and it is a great pleasure to receive their most prestigious award. It is particularly important for Irish climate research to see such an important institution acknowledge the efforts of Irish research in the topic of atmospheric composition and climate change. It is especially significant for me to receive the Mason Gold medal in honour of the late Sir John Mason who passed away in 2015. Sir John, as he was known in the community, is perhaps the single most influential atmospheric physicist in history having published the seminal works The Physics of Clouds in the 1950s and having spawned about five generations of atmospheric and climate scientists and meteorologists.” 

The Mason Gold Medal is awarded to a Fellow of the Society for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the fundamental processes that determine the variability and predictability of weather and climate. The Medal is awarded biennially and will be presented to Professor Colin O’Dowd at the High Impact Weather and Climate Conference at the University of Manchester on 7, July 2016, followed by a lecture by Professor O’Dowd.


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