Earth Scientist Receives PECASE Award
Ian Howat, assistant professor, School of Earth Sciences, will receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at a dinner at the White House in October. The PECASE is the highest award given by the United States government to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Howat studies the state of the earth’s large ice sheets, using data collected from space satellites as a primary observational tool. This is the second year in a row that a young researcher from earth sciences has received the award. Steven Lower was selected for a PECASE in 2010.
Howat was nominated for the award by NASA, the agency that funds most of Howat's research.The nomination is a true vote of confidence in both the quantity and quality of Howat's research. "The award is a real honor and a real career boost for me," Howat said.
Howat's study appearing in the journal, Geophysical Research Letters in May, refined the way ice loss in Greenland is measured. It provides a "high-definition picture" of climate-caused changes showing that in the last decade, two Greenland glaciers have lost enough ice to fill Lake Erie.
Having access to space satellites, "allows us to collect real-time snapshots that give a better perspective of all the processes causing these sheets to melt," Howat said. "This is one of the triumphs of innovation. We are always finding new ways to use the data, data that was never intended to be studied this way.The great additional benefit, is that we are maximizing available information at no additional cost to taxpayers."
Although Howat still needs to do field work, as some things simply have to be observed on-site, "having access to GPS/satellite systems," he said, "has revolutionized the whole time-scale on which I can work."