UMD: A Globally Connected University

Antonio Busalacchi

Dr. Antonio Busalacchi, professor of atmospheric and oceanics and director of the UMD Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE), for enhancing our “understanding of tropical oceans in coupled climate systems via remotely sensed observations.”

Busalacchi, whose global climate research began with a path-breaking 1982 Florida State University Oceanography Ph.D. dissertation on “El Niño,” said that he was, “shocked, stunned, and of course very humbled and honored" by the NAE induction. That citation also noted Busalacchi’s “international leadership of climate prediction/projection research,” as reflected in his service since 2008 as chair of the Joint Scientific Committee that oversees the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), the leading international organization studying climate change.

Busalacchi also co-chairs the National Research Council's Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space, a project that, he says, will “set the agenda” for satellite-monitoring of Earth for the next 10 years.

“My research deals with the climate system in the tropical Pacific,” he said. “I began looking at how the tropical ocean circulation coupled with the climate system.”

Busalacchi's interest in this work traces back to his childhood.

“As a kid, I used to scuba dive,” Busalacchi said. "I always wanted to become an oceanographer.”

Looking to the future and how his current research will affect the global scale, Busalacchi said that the data collected from U.S. satellites can be shared with other countries, and vise versa for other countries monitoring Earth through satellites.

"The study we're doing has clear international implications," he said. 

Busalacchi's other professional honors include being a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.