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Blue Planet Prize Is Awarded to Columbia's Broecker

Wallace S. Broecker, Newberry Professor of Geology at Columbia, has been named to receive the 1996 Blue Planet Prize for achievements in global environmental research.

The international prize, given by the Asahi Glass Foundation, was first awarded at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. It is presented annually to two individuals, groups or organizations "whose achievements have contributed to the resolution of global environmental problems." Each recipient will receive 50 million yen, about $463,000, at a ceremony October 31 in Tokyo.

Professor Broecker was cited for making "major contributions to our understanding of climate change and global warming through his research into global ocean currents and ocean chemical cycles, particularly the carbon cycle."

In the 1980s he recognized the presence of a "great conveyor belt" of ocean currents that circulates throughout the worlds' oceans and plays a critical role in earth's climate. His research has shown that the earth's climate system has shifted abruptly many times in the past, and he has been a leading voice warning of the potential danger of the buildup of greenhouse gases in earth's atmosphere.

Professor Broecker, a geochemist, earned his B.A. and Ph.D. at Columbia in the 1950's and has held professorships at Columbia throughout his career. He pioneered the development of techniques to measure radiocarbon and other chemical isotopes in the ocean. He has used methods to trace ocean circulation patterns over time, to date marine shells found in ocean sediments, to study gas exchanges between the ocean and atmosphere, and to trace carbon as it cycles through the earth's chemical, physical and biological systems.

The second recipient of the 1996 Blue Planet Prize was the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation of India, a nonprofit organization that supports the promotion of sustainable agriculture and rural development.