Annual Yanai Lecture


Michio Yanai was born on January 16, 1934 in Tokyo, and grew up in Chigasaki. Early in his life, his screenwriter father instilled an appreciation for science, and this affection continued on in middle school when he joined the Meteorology Club, which made typhoon observations and issued storm warnings. He attended University of Tokyo where he studied geophysics the majority of his undergraduate years, until senior year when he enrolled in the meteorology program. There he met his future wife, Yoko.

Yanai began graduate studies at University of Tokyo and wrote his Master's thesis on decaying typhoons in 1958. Soon after he earned his D.Sc in 1961 at the University of Tokyo with his Doctorate thesis on typhoon formation. He was then invited to join the newly formed Typhoon Research Laboratory and to later visit Colorado State, where he forged many important friendships during that period. However, he returned back to Japan to marry Yoko in 1965 and served as Assistant Professor at the University of Tokyo. Once the student riots of U. Tokyo emerged, he moved to UCLA where he worked full-time as a professor. In 2010, he was selected by the American Meteorological Society to be honored at a special symposium dedicated to his life and career. However, amidst the excitement and joy gathering information for the occasion, he suddenly passed away on October 13th, 2010 at his home. He is survived by his family--four grandchildren, sons Takashi and Satoshi, wife Yoko, and sibling Tetsuo Yanai.


Yanai's research interests and publications covered a wide variety of topics, including tropical cyclones easterly waves, equatorial waves intra-seasonal oscillation, cloud clusters, monsoon interannual variability, etc. His MS thesis regarding the tropical cyclone genesis served to be one of the most comprehensive references on the topic at the time. Much of his impactful work is still used today, such as observations made regarding the mixed Rossby-gravity waves, definitions of heat sources Q1 and moisture sinks Q2, contributions on equatorial variability and convections, and studies on the Tibetan Plateau's effect on the Asian Monsoon. His groundbreaking work earned him the Jule Charney Award in 1986 by the American Meteorological Society "for highly original contributions to enlarging our knowledge of the dynamics of the atmosphere, particularly in the tropics." Soon after he was also the recipient of the Fujiwara Award of the Meteorological Society of Japan in 1993. Since 1996, his UCLA Tropical Meteorology and Climate Newsletter had served as an indispensable resource to the meteorological community until its last issue on October 8th, 2010.

Michio Yanai will always be remembered by his colleagues and community for his major contributions and exemplary character. In his honor, the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences has founded the Annual Yanai Distinguished Lecture which will feature an esteemed guest speaker covering topics related to his research relevant to the world today.

Fourth Annual Distinguished Lecture

El Niño Comes of Age

John Michael Wallace


University of Washington

Thursday, May 4, 2017
5:00 p.m. reception | 6:00 p.m. lecture
California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), UCLA

El Niño has come of age. The earliest indications of a global pattern of climate anomalies that has come to be known as El Niño— or, in the scientific community as the El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon— date back to around 100 years ago. The preeminent figure at that time was Sir Gilbert Walker, a colorful British academic who spent most of his career in India studying the monsoon. A major breakthrough in our understanding of ENSO came with the visionary and provocative papers of Jacob Bjerknes of this department, published about 50 years ago.

 ENSO research began made another quantum leap forward in 1982, with the statistical analysis of marine surface observations by Eugene Rasmusson— a great admirer of Bjerknes and (despite the spelling of his name) also of Norwegian ancestry. Since the time of Rasmusson’s paper, advances in remote sensing by satellites and the archiving and analysis of atmospheric and ocean data have revealed much about the space-time signature of ENSO in key variables, sea surface temperature, sea level pressure, surface wind and tropical rainfall, and other important variables such sea level, subsurface ocean temperature, upper level geopotential height, temperature and wind, and teleconnections to the extratropical circulation. The ENSO cycle affects even the length of the day. The relationships between these various signatures provide textbook illustrations of many of the governing principles of atmospheric dynamics.  Because of its persistence from July through the following winter El Niño has value in short term climate prediction. The skill of forecasts based on ENSO is much better than those based on the proverbial groundhog, but still of limited value for southern California rainfall. I don’t expect the skill to improve anytime soon.

John Michael Wallace (born October 28, 1940), is a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington, as well as the former director of the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (JISAO)—a joint research venture between the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His research concerns understanding global climate and its variations using observations and covers the quasi biennial oscillation, Pacific decadal oscillation and the annular modes of the Arctic oscillation and the Antarctic oscillation, and the dominant spatial patterns in month-to-month and year-to-year climate variability, including the one through which El Niño phenomenon in the tropical Pacific influences climate over North America. He is also the coauthor with Peter V. Hobbs of what is generally considered the standard introductory textbook in the field: Atmospheric Science: An Introductory Survey. He was the third most cited geoscientist during the period 1973–2007.

third annual distinguished lecture

Fingerprinting the Climate System

Benjamin David Santer

climate researcher. Ph.D.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Lecture: May 5 2016 6pm
Reception: May 5 2016 5pm

Fingerprint research seeks to improve understanding of the nature and causes of climate change. The basic strategy is to search for model-predicted patterns of climate change (“fingerprints”) in observed climate records. Fingerprinting exploits the fact that individual influences on climate have unique signatures. These unique features are clearer in detailed patterns of climate change than in global-mean climate information. Fingerprint methods are a powerful tool for separating human and natural climate-change signals. The results of fingerprint research provide scientific support for findings of a “discernible human influence” on global climate.

Twenty years ago, at the time of publication of the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), most fingerprint studies relied on surface temperature. Critics of this work argued that a human-caused fingerprint should be identifiable in many different aspects of the climate system – not in surface thermometer records alone. Fingerprint researchers responded to this justifiable criticism by moving beyond early “temperature only” studies, interrogating modeled and observed changes in rainfall, water vapor, river runoff, snowpack depth, atmospheric circulation, salinity, and many other climate variables. The message of this body of work is that human-caused fingerprints are ubiquitous in the climate system.

The Yanai lecture affords an opportunity to look back at the scientific and personal lessons learned from over two decades of efforts to fingerprint the climate system – and to tell the story of how the scientific community identified a human-caused warming signal.

Ben Santer is an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). His research focuses on such topics as climate model evaluation, the use of statistical methods in climate science, and identification of natural and anthropogenic “fingerprints” in observed climate records. Santer’s early research on the climatic effects of combined changes in greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols contributed to the historic “discernible human influence” conclusion of the 1995 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). His recent work has attempted to identify anthropogenic fingerprints in a number of different climate variables, such as tropopause height, atmospheric water vapor, the temperature of the stratosphere and troposphere, ocean heat content, and ocean surface temperatures in hurricane formation regions.

Santer holds a Ph.D. in Climatology from the University of East Anglia, England. After completion of his Ph.D. in 1987, he spent five years at the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, where he worked on the development and application of climate fingerprinting methods. In 1992, Santer joined LLNL’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison.

Santer served as convening lead author of the climate-change detection and attribution chapter of the 1995 IPCC report. His awards include the Norbert Gerbier–MUMM International Award (1998), a MacArthur Fellowship (1998), the U.S. Department of Energy’s E.O. Lawrence Award (2002), a Distinguished Scientist Fellowship from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Biological and Environmental Research (2005), a Fellowship of the American Geophysical Union (2011), and membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (2011). He recently visited the Juneau Icefield in Alaska, and enjoys rock-climbing, mountaineering, and exploring the beautiful state of California with his wife Kris. 

second annual distinguished lecture

exploring global warming with climate models

Syukuro Manabe

senior meteorologist. Ph.D.

Princeton University

Lecture: May 7 2015 6pm
Reception: May 7 2015 5pm

One of the most powerful tools for studying global warming is climate models. It has evolved from the dynamical model of numerical weather prediction that has become indispensable for daily weather forecasting. Using high speed, electronic computer, climate model simulates the state of the coupled atmosphere-ocean-land system based upon the laws of physics. It has been very useful as virtual laboratory for exploring the physical mechanism of climate change. In this presentation, I review the modeling studies of global warming, in which I have participated. For example, I show that climate models have successfully simulated many salient features of global climate change that has occurred during the last several decades. The talk will conclude with the discussion of the predicted change of the global water cycle that is likely to exert far-reaching impact upon the water availability of the world.

Syukuro "Suki" Manabe is a Japanese meteorologist and climatologist who earned his Ph.D. in Tokyo University and currently serves as Senior Meteorologist and visiting research collaborator at Princeton University. He is known for developing the use of general circulation models and using computers to simulate global climate change and natural climate variations. His various scientific achievements include demonstrating effects of increased carbon dioxide concentrations into the atmosphere, pioneering climate simulations with coupled ocean and atmosphere models, and researching greenhouse gas concentrations effect on the Earth's climate.

These achievements have earned him many awards, including the Rossby Research Medal in 1992 from American Meteorological Society and the Bowie Medal in 2010 from the American Geophysical Union. His prizes include the Blue Planet Prize from the Asahi Glass Foundation and the Volvo Environment Prize. He serves as a member of the US National Academy of Sciences since 1990.

first annual distinguished lecture

road maps for transitioning all 50 US states to wind, water, and solar power

Mark Z. Jacobson

professor of civil & environmental engineering

stanford university

Our First Annual Yanai Lecture was held on May 7, 2014 in the Charles E. Young Library and was a huge sucess with Mark Jacobson from Stanford University, discussing plans to convert the energy of infrastructures to wind, water, and sunlight.

Global warming, air pollution, and energy insecurity are three of the most significant problems facing the world today. This talk discusses the development of technical and economic plans to convert the energy infrastructure of each of the 50 United States to those powered by 100% wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) for all purposes, including electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, and industry after energy efficiency measures are accounted for. The plans call for all new energy and transportation to be clean by 2020, ~80% conversion of existing infrastructure by 2030 and 100% by 2050 through aggressive policy measures and natural transition. Wind and solar resource availability, land areas required, jobs created, changes in energy costs, cost savings from avoided air pollution and global warming, and methods of ensuring reliability of the grid will be discussed. Air pollution reductions alone due to the plan would eliminate a mean of 60,000 premature mortalities in the U.S., avoiding costs equivalent to 3.3 percent of the United States gross domestic product based on statistical cost of life. The roadmap will also stabilize energy prices.

More information can be found at http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/susenergy2030.html.

Mark Z. Jacobson is Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Woods Institute for the Environment and Senior Fellow of the Precourt Institute for Energy.  He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering with distinction, an A.B. in Economics with distinction, and an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University, in 1988.  He received an M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 and a PhD in Atmospheric Sciences in 1994 from UCLA. He has been on the faculty at Stanford since 1994. His work relates to the development and application of numerical models to understand better the effects of energy systems and vehicles on climate and air pollution and the analysis of renewable energy resources.  He has published two textbooks of two editions each and 135 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.  He received the 2005 American Meteorological Society Henry G. Houghton Award for “significant contributions to modeling aerosol chemistry and to understanding the role of soot and other carbon particles on climate,” the 2013 American Geophysical Union Ascent Award for “his dominating role in the development of models to identify the role of black carbon in climate change,” and the Global Green Policy Design Award for the "design of analysis and policy framework to envision a future powered by renewable energy." He co-authored a 2009 cover article in Scientific American with Dr. Mark DeLucchi of U.C. Davis on how to power the world with renewable energy, served on the Energy Efficiency and Renewables Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy, and recently appeared on the David Letterman Show to discuss converting the world to clean energy.

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