Ralph Cicerone


Credit: National Academy of Sciences

Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President Emeritus of the National Academy of Sciences and a world-renowned authority on atmospheric chemistry and climate change, died on November 5, 2016 at his home in New Jersey. Prior to his service from July 2005 to June 2016 as President of the NAS, Dr. Cicerone was the chancellor of the University of California – Irvine campus from 1998 to 2005.   He was recruited to UC Irvine in 1989 to organize its new Department of Earth System Science from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which he had joined in 1980 as a senior scientist and director of NCAR’s Atmospheric Chemistry Division.

Dr. Cicerone received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He held faculty positions in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Michigan from 1971 to 1978, prior to joining Scripps Institution of Oceanography as a research chemist.  He came to national attention in 2001 when he led a National Academy of Sciences panel on climate change, commissioned by President George W. Bush.   In a clear and concise report, the panel concluded that  “greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth’s atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise.”

Among his many honors and awards, Dr. Cicerone received the AGU James B. Macelwane Award in 1979, the AGU Roger Revelle Medal in 2002, and the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2004.  He served as AGU president from 1992 to 1994.

The National Academy of Sciences has posted a memorium at http://www.nasonline.org/news-and-multimedia/news/nov-5-2016-Ralph-J-Cicerone.html and AGU has posted a discussion of his career in the EOS newsletter at https://eos.org/articles/former-u-s-science-academy-president-ralph-cicerone-dies-73.  Extensive obituaries can be viewed in the Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ex-sciences-academy-president-ralph-j-cicerone-dies-at-73/2016/11/05/438c2e08-a3cd-11e6-8864-6f892cad0865_story.html  and in the Los Angeles Times at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-uci-chancellor-dead-20161105-story.html.