While serving as Director of the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), Dr. Eugenia Kalnay led the development of their pioneering operational ensemble weather forecasting system, producing better forecasts with quantified uncertainties that are now part of everyday life. She also was lead author on the NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis, the effort to provide a consistent, accurate atmospheric history by using an up-to-date system to assimilate historical data.
With students and colleagues, she has worked vigorously to cross-fertilize nonlinear-dynamics and meteorology, with special focus on Kalman filters for data assimilation. She has applied her techniques to such disparate problems as weather on Mars and carbon sources and sinks on Earth. She has especially sought to solve problems of societal relevance, helping develop the HANDY model exploring interactions among economics, population dynamics, and environmental quality, and showing how massive renewable-energy installations could increase Saharan rainfall and vegetation.
She was the first female Ph.D. recipient and first female faculty member in the MIT Department of Meteorology. She joined the University of Maryland as Department Chair in 1999 and is now a Distinguished University Professor, after service with NASA, NOAA, and the University of Oklahoma. Professor Kalnay has received numerous prestigious awards, including the 2015 AMS Joanne Simpson mentorship award and election to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Academia Europaea, and the Argentine Academy of Sciences. In the American Geophysical Union’s Fall 2019 meeting, Professor Kalnay was awarded the Roger Revelle Medal in recognition of “her exceptional contributions to numerical weather prediction, ensemble forecasting, data assimilation, and interactions between society and the environment.”