EMS Young Scientist Award 2024: Bianca Mezzina

The recipient of the EMS Young Scientist Award 2024 is Bianca Mezzina, Italy, currently working at the Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. She was nominated with the publication “Contributions of atmospheric forcing and ocean preconditioning in the 2016 Antarctic sea ice extent drop”, Bianca Mezzina et al 2024 Environ. Res.: Climate 3 021002

With her research, Bianca Mezzina continuously contributes to the physical understanding of key climate processes in the atmosphere and in the ocean, as well as their mutual interactions and impacts.

The EMS Awards Committee selected Bianca Mezzina as the awardee because her research provides significant contributions to the challenging research into understanding of ocean-sea-ice-atmosphere climate dynamics and coupling. She also has a very strong publication record in the early stage of her career.

The award will be handed over during the Awards Session at the EMS2024 in Barcelona; The award lecture will be given in the  EMS2024 Session UP2.4 Atmosphere-Ocean interactions: open-ocean and coastal processes

Award Lecture: What was the contribution of the ocean to the 2016 Antarctic sea ice extent drop and was this event unprecedented?

Bianca Mezzina, EMS Young Scientist Awardee 2024 (photo: private)
Bianca Mezzina, EMS Young Scientist Awardee 2024 (photo: private)

Bianca Mezzina received a Master from the Università degli studi di Trieste, Italy, in 2016, and her PhD in 2021 from the Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. She currently works as PostDoc at the Earth and Life Institute of the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium. Her master and PhD theses were focused on atmospheric dynamics and in particular tropical-extra tropical teleconnections.
At UCLouvain, Bianca extended her research topics to sea ice and polar climate dynamics. She received a highly competitive personal fellowship from the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (F.R.S.-FNRS Belgium) for a project proposal on the downward impacts of the stratosphere on the variability of Antarctic sea ice, that will support her research for the next three years.
She also joined APECS Belgium (Association of Polar Early Career Scientists), a group of young volunteers committed to communicate and educate different audiences about polar sciences, as well as building strong national and international networks for young researchers .

The Antarctic sea ice extent has reached record lows in the past few years after a period of relative stability. Both this stability and the sudden decrease are puzzling and the associated mechanisms are a major subject of research interest, not only for the Southern Ocean community but more widely because of the dominant role of Southern Ocean in the oceanic carbon and heat uptake and on sea level rise through interactions with the Antarctic Ice Sheet. A majority of the research on the subject has been focused on the role of atmospheric circulation in explaining the evolution of the Antarctic sea ice or on the role of changes in oceanic circulation. Bianca was able to demonstrate that large scale atmospheric dynamics is the initial driver of the changes but the ocean controls the response on multi-annual timescales and to quantify the different contributions.

Bianca Mezzina has also been supporting the EMS Annual Meetings for a number of years already, by chairing the session on Mid-latitude atmospheric teleconnection dynamics and joining the convenor team of the session on cryosphere and cold region processes in the climate system,  promoting the topics in the community.


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