NCDC Scientist Receives PECASE

Today the White House named NCDC Scientist, Dr. Anthony Arguez, and two other NOAA scientists as recipients of the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).This award is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their careers. They will receive the PECASE along with other honorees from across the federal government later this year in a ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. Dr. Arguez is the second NCDC scientist to receive this award in just the past few years; Dr. Matthew Menne also received a PECASE in 2009 for using innovative methods to develop high-quality climate datasets.

Anthony Arguez was 14 when Hurricane Andrew devastated his family's home in 1992. His father, who had fled Cuba in 1963 in search of freedom, was a South Florida farmer who saw firsthand the role of weather and climate on the harvest each year. Both of these experiences led Anthony to pursue a Ph.D. in Meteorology with an emphasis on climate science and statistics. Today he is a physical scientist at NCDC, leading the team that developed the 1981–2010 U.S. Climate Normals.

Dr. Arguez’s PECASE recognizes this work on the development of next-generation Climate Normals, which is cutting-edge from both a climate science and a user engagement perspective. “Although this is an individual award by nature, I see this mostly as a validation of the hard work of everyone on the Normals team,” Dr. Arguez said. Dr. Arguez and the team not only developed the new Normals, but also established innovative scientific methods used in its production. This once-per-decade release updates the previous edition, which covered the period 1971–2000. In just the first two months after its release, the public accessed this product over 22,000 times.

In his 7-year tenure as a Physical Scientist at NCDC, Dr. Arguez has accomplished a great deal in addition to his work on the Climate Normals. In 2007, he was lead editor of the “State of the Climate in 2006” report. Dr. Arguez coordinated this 135-page supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society with over 200 scientific colleagues around the world. Dr. Arguez has also published ten additional papers and presented dozens of talks and posters at professional meetings and workshops. Dr. Arguez also has a deep commitment to mentoring and educating younger scientists and serves as a mentor to a NOAA Hollìngs Scholar and on the Master’s Committee of a student in the University of South Carolina’s Marine Sciences Department.

Dr. Arguez also currently leads a project on Alternative Climate Normals that attempts to compute Normals that are more representative of current climate conditions than 30-year averages. This project aims not only to derive Alternative Climate Normals that describe the current state of the climate, but also to develop estimates of what Normals will be in the future. The Alternative Climate Normals project is bringing together scientists, researchers, business leaders, and various policy and regulatory decision makers to address the implications of using traditional Normals and the options of using Alternative Normals as metrics of climate change.

NCDC, NOAA, and the Nation will continue to benefit for years to come from Dr. Arguez's leadership and scientific innovation. Congratulations to Dr. Arguez on this prestigious award!