The World Meteorological Organization honoured Gordon McBean of Western University Ontario, Canada, and President, International Council for Science, with the sixty-second IMO Prize on 16 May 2017 for his outstanding work in meteorology and climatology and his leadership as a scientific researcher.
The IMO Prize is the most important award in meteorology. Established in 1955 and named after the predecessor of the WMO, the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), it is awarded every year by WMO Executive Council to individuals in recognition of outstanding contributions to the field of meteorology, hydrology, climatology or related fields.
Mr McBean received the IMO Prize for his outstanding contributions to meteorology as an atmospheric and climate scientist and a leader of international and national scientific research programmes, most notably the World Climate Research Programme from 1988 to 1994. Mr McBean, a former Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment Canada, led global efforts to raise awareness about climate change impacts and played a key role in the development of the Intergovernmental Panel in Climate Change (IPCC). He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as an IPCC contributor in 1997.
He made many breakthroughs and discoveries on the atmospheric boundary layer, his original field of research. He was the first to identify and examine the roles of active-passive scalars in turbulent transfers, to quantify the pressure-turbulence relationships in the turbulent energy budget and to evaluate the Obukhov-Corrsin constant for micro-scale temperature. As part of his research on larger scale phenomena in the atmosphere and oceans, Mr McBean examined the structure of frontal systems over the North Pacific, estimated the Pacific Ocean meridional heat flux at 35° North and studied the principal North Pacific heating anomaly patterns and their relation to atmospheric circulation.
More recently, he work has been cross-disciplinary, addressing the challenges of integrated research on disaster risk weather and climate and the relationships between climate extremes and housing rights in communities in Africa. He has also completed a 5-year study of coastal cities at risk due to weather, climate and flooding – with teams in Bangkok, Manila, Lagos and Vancouver – in order to develop urban resilience models.
He has published in 72 peer-reviewed journals and contributed to 42 books and 65 other publications. In addition, he has made 328 presentations in international and national scientific and professional events.