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Two USGS Scientists Selected as Fellows of the American Geophysical Union

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Dan Cayan
Above: Dan Cayan.

Tom Parsons
Above: Tom Parsons.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists Daniel R. Cayan and Thomas E. Parsons have been selected as Fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in the class of 2012.

Dan Cayan (San Diego, CA) was selected as a Fellow in AGU’s Hydrology section for his pioneering, cross-disciplinary contributions and leadership advancing understanding of hydroclimatic variation and change in western North America. A scientist with the USGS and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Cayan conducts research that has led to major shifts in the way that the climate and hydrology of western North America are studied and understood by most scientists and decision makers in the region. Early in his career, he collaborated with others to illuminate recurring, long-distance (or “teleconnected”) centers of action in global patterns of atmospheric circulation and ocean conditions that strongly influence the climate of the Pacific-North American sector. His studies of global-scale, quasi-periodic climate modes—such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation—provided important foundations for understanding and predicting key patterns in the North American climate. A focus on western rivers and snowpacks led Cayan to recognize and demonstrate important trends over the past 50 years toward more rain and less snow, earlier snowmelt, earlier vegetation greenup, and earlier streamflow from snow-fed rivers across western North America. While bringing the global-warming debates home to the West in clear and visceral ways, Cayan has also been the voice for calm science-based approaches as agencies have begun to swing into action to plan their potential responses. In addition to his own careful research, Cayan has inspired many students and scientists to explore the roles of climate in diverse water and environmental applications.

Tom Parsons (Menlo Park, CA) was selected as a Fellow in the Tectonophysics section for his fundamental insights into earthquake triggering, earthquake interaction, and fault mechanics. A geophysicist at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, Parsons studies earthquake triggering and fault interaction, probabilistic methods to forecast earthquakes and tsunamis, statistical seismology, and crustal deformation/fault mechanics. He is equally at home with finite element analysis, elastic dislocation theory, crustal and mantle rheology, waveform seismology, and plate tectonics. He has employed these tools to probe how earthquakes are triggered, to understand how tectonic forces drive the interplay of faulting and volcanism, and to improve seismic-hazard assessments destined for the public and for engineers in our nation and beyond. “What we most admire about Tom’s research agenda is his utter lack of fealty to any hypothesis, idea, or conviction,” wrote his nominators. “This agility and fierce objectivity are what propels science forward, but are exceedingly rare because most of us defend and burnish our past work rather than tear it down to reveal the next or deeper insights.”

Parsons, Cayan, and 59 other 2012 Fellows were selected by the AGU Fellows Selection Committee (the full list is available in an AGU news release). AGU members who are selected as Fellows have attained an acknowledged eminence in a branch of the geophysical sciences. The number of Fellows selected annually is limited to no more than 0.1 percent of the AGU membership. Congratulations to these distinguished scientists!


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AGU Announces 2012 Fellows

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Gas Hydrates and Climate Warming

Real-Time Mapping of Methane Concentrations

Coastal and Marine Geoscience Data System

Exploring Geophysical Data Using GeoMapApp and Virtual Ocean

Weather Prevents Survey of California Sea Otter Population

Exhibit Will Celebrate Collaboration Between Artists and Scientists

Antarctic Science and Arts

USGS Scientists Selected as Fellows of the American Geophysical Union

Staff Chinese Scientist Visiting USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Belgian Volunteer Assists Staff in Everglades National Park


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