Prestigious Balzan Prize for climate researcher Hans Oerlemans

Italian-Swiss 'Nobel prizes' granted

Professor Hans Oerlemans has been emeritus for three years now, but his work continues to be honored. On 12 September, it was announced that he and his Danish colleague Dorthe Dahl-Jensen are joint winners of one of the 2022 Balzan Prizes. The researchers will receive the certificate and the accompanying cash prize from Italian President Sergio Mattarella in November.

The Italian-Swiss Balzan Prizes have been awarded annually since 1961 to researchers who, in the opinion of a jury, contribute significantly to knowledge development. The format of the Balzan Prizes is similar to that of the Nobel Prize, with four official prize categories within culture and science plus a prize for peace. The prize money is 750,000 Swiss francs (770,000 euros), compared to 930,000 euros for the Nobel Prize last year. Eight Balzan Prize winners later won the Nobel Prize. The Balzan Prizes were created by the daughter of Eugenio Balzan, a wealthy, Italian journalist.

Emeritus professor Hans Oerlemans

Paving the way

Oerlemans and Dahl-Jensen receive the prize for their fundamental and pioneering research on the dynamics of glaciers and ice-sheets. The jury also praised the impact the research has had on knowledge of climate change and its underlying mechanisms. It has "paved the way to more reliable predictions of ice-sheet behavior and related sea level changes”.

No small prize

Oerlemans responds enthusiastically and is thrilled to win the scientific prize. "It really is no small one! It's also a nice recognition of the field of Glaciology, and Climate Physics in general." He adds that it would never have been possible without the efforts of his colleagues at the Utrecht Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (IMAU).

Most influential climate scientists

The 71-year-old climate researcher is more often praised for his work. Just last year, for example, he appeared on the ranking of the world's most influential climate scientists, compiled by Reuters. Already in 1989, Oerlemans published a first prediction of the expected sea level rise, which is not much different from what we are working with today, organized large meteorological experiments on glaciers and ice-sheets, and initiated the Karthaus summer school in 1995, for young researchers in the field of ice-sheets and glaciers.