Climate is like your wardrobe. Weather is like what you are wearing today

Science and Society

The title of this article comes from Dr. John E Walsh, recipient of the Mohn Prize 2022 for his continuous leading role in generating our common understanding of how sea ice dynamics link intimately with ongoing changes, including extreme regional events, throughout the Arctic system.

By: Morten Hald, Marit Reigstad and Karine Nigar Aarskog // UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Dr. Walsh is Chief Scientist at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Dr Dag Rune Olsen, Rector of UiT The Arctic University of Norway. announcing the Mohn Prize at the Fram Centre.
Dr Dag Rune Olsen, Rector of UiT The Arctic University of Norway. announcing the Mohn Prize at the Fram Centre.

“Our warmest congratulations go to Dr. John E. Walsh. He has taught us that linking all elements of a system is essential to understanding and predicting the future. This integrative approach, using observations and models, has enabled him to extend Arctic phenomena to global impacts as well as recognise extreme weather and environmental events specific to the distinct regions of the Arctic,” said Dr. Dag Rune Olsen, Rector of UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

The Laureate responded: “I want to express my sincere gratitude for the Mohn Prize. When I was informed of the selection, I was stunned, and humble. The Mohn Prize is the Arctic’s most prestigious award, and I hope to do it justice, through the tremendous opportunities it provides.”

The Committee’s statement

The Mohn Prize Steering Committee unanimously views Dr. Walsh as an influential generator of new, ground-breaking knowledge about the changing Arctic climate system that is simultaneously creative, practical and of high public value beyond the scientific community. He is one of the most authoritative scholars in the field of modern Arctic change. The Committee underscores the importance of the breadth and depth of Dr. Walsh’s contributions, which are critical to our understanding of the future development of the Arctic.

About the Mohn Prize

The Mohn Prize is intended to highlight excellent and important research for the northern regions and research relevant for society and the local population. The goal is to put important questions on the agenda, both nationally and internationally. UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø Research Foundation, and Academia Borealis – The North-Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, together award the prize (2 million NOK) every other year.

Read more about the prize here

About the laureate

Dr Walsh is Chief Scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center and distinguished President’s Professor of Global Change at UAF. He is also the co-lead of the Climate Expert Group of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. He continues to be one of the most active scholars in the fields of Arctic environmental change, seasonal to decadal variability of sea ice, predictability of climate change at high latitudes, and changes in Arctic weather in the context of rapid change.

Dr Walsh has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers, including insightful articles that educate broadly and highlight fruitful research directions. He works across scientific disciplines, publishing with numerous co-authors from many countries.

He was lead author for the cryosphere chapter of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA, 2005), the Polar Regions chapter of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4, 2007), the Arctic climate and modelling chapters of the Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic report (SWIPA, 2011) of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) of the Arctic Council, the chapter “Our Changing Climate” and key appendices in the 3rd US National Climate Assessment report (2014), and the Arctic Extreme Events chapter of AMAP’s Climate Update report (2021).