Alley to receive Heinz Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, Penn State, is a recipient of a $100,000 Heinz Award for being a leader in climate and polar ice studies.

The Heinz Awards, now in their 17th year, honor visionaries who have made extraordinary contributions to the environment, a life-long area of commitment for the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. Alley and nine others nationwide are recognized for their significant efforts benefitting the environment.

Alley's discovery that the last Ice Age came to an abrupt end over a period of only three years broke open the field of abrupt climate change. This debunked the myth that climate change is a slow process and suggests that some climate changes in response to human-induced activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels, may arrive more rapidly than expected.

"Dr. Alley's research on ice cores has provided an essential cornerstone to the study of environmental change," Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation said. "He discovered that such changes can be abrupt and massive and he is able to communicate these complex ideas in a clear and compelling way."

Alley is considered one of the most active voices in communicating earth sciences to the general public. Earlier this year, he hosted a PBS special on climate change and sustainable energy called "Earth: The Operators' Manual." He is the author of a companion book of the same name.

"Climate change is an enormous challenge that requires big action," said Alley, "Our grandchildren will one day ask us to explain the choices our leaders made today."

The Heinz Awards will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 15.

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Last Updated September 15, 2011