GFDL Hosts Fulbright Scholar
August 23, 2010
recently hosted a Fulbright scholar from Greece. Nikolas “Nikos” Hatzianastasiou
spent the summer looking at the simulated aerosol properties of the lab?s world-renowned
atmospheric climate model, comparing them with actual measurement data for the Mediterranean.
Under the leadership of GFDL Director Dr. V. Ramaswamy and senior scientist Paul
Ginoux, Hatzianastasiou evaluated the AM2?s aerosol properties over the Mediterranean
basin during his 10 weeks at GFDL?a new undertaking for the laboratory, and a departure
from his previous work. “My earlier research focused on cloud, not climate models,”
said Hatzianastasiou. “I had been interested in working with a climate model in
general, and knew that GFDL had a renowned one.”
The visiting scientist would find the Mediterranean basin a unique region to
analyze as it includes a confluence of different aerosol types: dust from the African
deserts, sea-salt from the sea and pollutants (sulfate and carbonaceous aerosols)
from the industrial regions of Europe. Emissions from these aerosols have changed
considerably over the last few decades, thus altering aerosol effects on climate.
Ginoux said this alteration posed a central question to GFDL, one that Hatzianastasiou
was instrumental in answering.
“It made us wonder, ?Did we properly simulate these changes?? Nikos helped us
address that question,” said Ginoux. “If the answer to that question is positive,
then we can try to understand the physics behind such changes using our model.”
The GFDL model had been previously evaluated over basins other than the Mediterranean.
The prospect of the aerosol model being revaluated over the Mediterranean specifically
excited the GFDL team.
A graduate of Greece?s University of Saloniki (Bachelor of Science in Physics,
1991) and France?s Polytech in Clermont-Ferrand (Master of Arts in 1994 and Ph.D.
in 1997), Hatzianastasiou said science has always fascinated him. Collaborating
with an American laboratory, he said, was the best way to flesh out his research.
He crafted a proposal for the Fulbright Scholarship program with the intention of
merging his climatology interests with his past experience of modeling Earth?s radiation
budget and examining how that radiation interacts with aerosols and clouds.
Fulbright is the chief international educational exchange program sponsored
by the U.S. Department of State. It is designed “to increase mutual
understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other
Ginoux and Ramaswamy said Hatzianastasiou was a welcome addition to GFDL and
both want him to return to GFDL. “We would like Nikos to come back and collaboratively
engage in more advanced research,” said Ramaswamy. “In fact, the Fulbright
arrangement is anticipated to be the seed for interactions between our
institutions on problems whose solutions would be of mutual benefit.” Hatzianastasiou said he too looks forward
to someday returning to GFDL and expanding his research even further.