Richard Somerville

Richard Somerville is an internationally recognized climate scientist and an expert on communicating clearly to the public what scientists have learned about climate change.
His interests include all aspects of climate, including climate science outreach and the interface between science and public policy. Somerville has commented frequently on climate and environmental issues for the media. He has also testified before the United States Congress, briefed United Nations climate change negotiators, and advised government agencies on research, education and outreach.

Somerville has been a Coordinating Lead Author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its “efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

Among his honors, Somerville has been named a Fellow of three scientific societies: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and the American Meteorological Society (AMS). He has also received awards from the American Meteorological Society for both his research and his popular book, The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change.

In 2015, Somerville was awarded the Climate Communication Prize of the American Geophysical Union. This prize recognized him for his work in promoting scientific literacy, clarity of message, and efforts to foster respect and understanding of science-based values as they relate to the implications of climate change.

In 2017, Somerville won the Ambassador Award of the American Geophysical Union. This award is given for outstanding contributions in the areas of societal impact, service to the Earth and space community, scientific leadership, and promotion of talent and the career pool.

Somerville’s research has been focused on critical physical processes in the climate system. He has made fundamental contributions to the mathematical and physical foundations of computer models for the dynamics of fluid flows, for weather prediction, and for climate simulation. Somerville is an authority on the prospects for climate change in coming decades. He is an author, co-author or editor of more than 200 scientific publications.

Richard Somerville is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He has been a professor at Scripps since 1979. He received a B. S. in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University in 1961, and a Ph. D. in meteorology from New York University in 1966.

“Perhaps the most important function of climate science on an issue of broad interest like global warming is to help educate the public and to provide useful input into the policy process. Governments, corporations, and individuals should listen to and learn from the science, just as intelligent people listen to their physicians when their health is in question. Good science input can inform wise policymaking. The role of scientists is to help assess the science and present it in an intelligible way that is policy relevant.”

– The Forgiving Air: Understanding Environmental Change

A sample of his writing that educates the public, and promotes harmonious family holidays, “Thanksgiving advice: How to deal with climate change denying Uncle Pete”, was published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

More information about Richard Somerville, including his curriculum vitae and publications lists, as well as links to videos of several of his talks and downloads of many of his publications, can be found at these two websites:
• Personal website:
• University website: