People - Written by on February 10, 2015

Wigner Distinguished Lecturer Visits OLCF

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Left, Susan Solomon, and, right, James Hack discuss DOE’s commitment to providing leadership on high performance science computing.

Left, Susan Solomon, and, right, James Hack discuss DOE’s commitment to providing leadership on high performance science computing.

Atmospheric scientist Solomon tours leadership computing facility

Shortly after delivering the Eugene P. Wigner Distinguished Lecture at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in December, internationally known atmospheric scientist Susan Solomon paid a visit to the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF). Her visit highlighted the crucial link between climate science and high performance computing.

“I went to ORNL prepared to be impressed—but frankly the high performance computing facility, the OLCF, was more than impressive; it was jaw-dropping,” said Solomon, the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “What a wonderful resource that is, and how skillfully the range of management challenges associated with dealing with a facility like that are handled.

“In the field of climate science, having access to computational power has a direct relationship to advancing our knowledge,” Solomon added. “We’ve come far in the past decade, but the ORNL facility will take progress to a new level. It was very exciting to me to have the chance to tour the actual hardware.”

Greeting Solomon during her visit to OLCF, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, was James J. Hack, Director of the National Center for Computational Sciences.

“We were delighted to have welcomed Susan to tour the OLCF,” Hack said. “It was a great pleasure to host such an internationally renowned scientist at our facility and to have the opportunity to give her a sense for ORNL and DOE’s commitment to providing leadership on high performance scientific computing, something of great importance to advancing knowledge of many aspects of the climate system.”

Early in Solomon’s noteworthy career, her work in identifying the cause of Antarctica’s springtime ozone losses led to an international ban of chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). As an atmospheric scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992 and was awarded the 1999 National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor, by the Clinton Administration. The first NOAA scientist to receive this award, she was honored for her work on the ozone hole. She also received the French government’s Grande Médaille, the highest award of the French Academy of Sciences.

More recently, Solomon served as co-chair of Working Group I of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); in that position, she played a key role in producing the report that concluded warming of the climate system is unequivocal. As an outcome of this effort, IPCC was awarded the shared 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with former Vice President Al Gore. Solomon’s impactful scientific accomplishments led Time magazine in 2008 to name her to its prestigious Time 100, a list that identifies the individuals Time believes to be “the world’s most influential leaders, thinkers, heroes, scientists, and more.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is supported by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit