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Professors named fellows of American Geophysical Union

Two Florida State University oceanography professors have been named fellows of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a professional scientific organization representing scientists in 139 countries.

Allan Clarke, the Adrian E. Gill Professor of Oceanography, and Jeffrey Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography, were selected for the fellow designation by their peers in the organization for outstanding contributions to earth and space sciences.

“It is always great to see colleagues receive national and international recognition for their outstanding contributions to scientific research, and for doing the kind of work that they love and have been dedicated to for many years,” said Professor James Tull, chair of the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science. “The prestigious fellowship designation recently bestowed on professors Chanton and Clarke by the American Geophysical Union is an excellent example of the fruition borne by the hard work, dedication, scientific curiosity and high intellect exhibited by the faculty of EOAS. “

Established in 1919, the AGU is dedicated to advancing the earth and space sciences through scholarly journals, conferences and outreach programs. It has nearly 60,000 members.

Scientists who are elected fellows must be vetted by their peers from subsets within the organization. They also must have attained an acknowledged level of excellence in the field by making a breakthrough or discovery, innovating in instrument or methods development or creating sustained scientific impact.

The organization’s most recent crop of fellows hail from some of the top institutions across the country including Princeton, University of California – Berkeley, University of Colorado at Boulder and University of North Carolina. Chanton and Clarke are the only two scientists selected from Florida.

“It’s a huge thrill,” Clarke said. “I’m very grateful to all who helped in my nomination and to FSU for providing me such an ideal place to work.”

Clarke focuses on understanding and predicting the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).Generated by air/sea interaction in the central equatorial Pacific, ENSO is the major factor causing short-term climate variability on earth. He has written more than 70 journal articles and authored the 2008 textbook “An Introduction to the Dynamics of El Niño the Southern Oscillation.” He also has a model that predicts El Niño.

“I love trying to understandthe ocean and atmosphere using mathematics and physics, computers andwhatever other toolwill help me understand observations,” Clarke said."A lot of my work has involved understanding and predicting El Niñoas well as the dynamics of the coastal ocean. There’s so much we are still learning.”

Chanton focuses on the gas methane, which is an important trace gas produced by microbes involved in earth’s carbon cycle. It has led him to do work on climate change and more recently, the BP oil spill.

“Methane is everywhere, from the deep sea, to wetlands, peatlands, permafrost, landfills,” he said.“It even serves as a possible marker of life on the planet Mars.”

Like Clarke, Chanton credited FSU and said he was “very pleased” to learn of the award.

“I’ve been lucky to have great colleagues to work with over the years, and a great place to work,” he said.