Pusan National University’s Distinguished Professor Axel Timmermann and Director of the IBS Center for Climate Physics (ICCP), has been awarded the 2017 Milutin Milankovic Medal for his fundamental and pioneering contributions to the understanding of climate dynamics.
The Milutin Milankovic Medal is one of the highest honors bestowed by the European Geosciences Union (EGU) upon scientists working in the field of climate change and modeling. Since 1993 the EGU Division on Climate: Past, Present & Future has awarded this medal to 25 other outstanding scientists.
Prof. Timmermann was selected for the medal as he “represents a rare example of a truly universal scientist who made significant contributions to understanding climate dynamics on very different spatial and temporal scales relevant both for past and future climate change” (Milutin Milankovic Medal 2017).
Prof. Timmermann has made major contributions in a range of topics, including: El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) dynamics, abrupt climate change, dynamics of thermohaline circulation (ocean circulation driven by differences in seawater density), glacial dynamics, and human migration.
During the medal lecture on “The Astronomical Theory of Human Migration”, Prof. Timmermann presented a new numerical modeling framework to understand and quantify the role of orbitally-driven past climate change in driving early human migration out of Africa, into Eurasia, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Computer simulations of his climate/human dispersal model reveal migration patterns that are in close agreement with paleo-anthropological and archeological data.
Prof. Timmermann’s medal lecture also addressed the apparent discrepancies between paleo-genetic studies, which suggest a marked “Out of Africa” event around 60-70 thousand years ago, and paleo-climatic evidence which shows that this period was the least favorable for human migration because massive deserts spread across northeastern Africa, Sinai, and the Arabian Peninsula.