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California Space Institute
Professor/ Director
Scripps Institution of Oceanography


Dr. V. Ramanathan is the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego. In the mid 1970s he discovered the greenhouse effect of CFCs and numerous other man-made trace gases. He correctly forecasted in 1980, along with R. Madden, that the global warming due to carbon dioxide would be detectable by the year 2000. He and his students also used satellite radiometers to detect the atmospheric greenhouse effect directly from observations and demonstrated using satellite and ground based observations that the coupling between atmospheric warming and water vapor greenhouse effect exerted a strong positive feedback effect, thus confirming earlier model predictions. Teaming up with NASA colleagues, he showed that clouds had a large natural cooling effect on the planet using direct measurements of the atmospheric greenhouse effect. He, along with Dr. Paul Crutzen, led the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX) that first discovered the widespread South Asian Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs). Using INDOEX, Dr. Ramanathan showed that the South Asian brown clouds led to large scale dimming of the ocean slowed down the monsoon circulation and decreased monsoon rainfall. He followed this with a path-breaking study with agricultural economists to show that ABCs and greenhouse gases were responsible for a 14% decrease in rice harvest in India. In 2006, he used miniaturized instruments on light weight unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, to show that black carbon in ABCs are causing a large heating of the atmosphere over Asia, linking ABCs to the melting of Himalayan and Tibetan glaciers. During the summer of 2008, he used these UAVs to track pollution from Beijing during the Olympics. His most recent publication suggests that human activities have likely committed the planet to exceed the threshold for several climate tipping points during the twenty first century. Dr. Ramanathan currently chairs the UNEP-sponsored ABC Project with science team members from the USA, Europe, India, China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. He is the recipient of many national and international awards such as: the American Meteorological Society's Rossby medal, the Buys Ballot medal by the Dutch Academy of Sciences, the Volvo environment prize in 1997 and the Zayed International prize for environment in 2008. He has been elected to the American Philosophical Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope John Paul II, the Academia Europea, the Third World Academy of Sciences and most recently to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He chairs the National Academy of Sciences panel that provides strategic advice to the US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), a $2 billion/year inter-agency research program. He is part of the Nobel Peace prize (2007) winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change since its inception, and for the 2007 report served as one of the lead editors in IPCC-AR4 (2007), WG-I. A more complete resume and bibliography can be seen at: