Venkatramani Balaji

Princeton University researcher Venkatramani Balaji was chosen among 18 recipients to participate in French President Emmanuel Macron's climate science program. The Indian American heads the Modeling Systems Group at Princeton's program in atmospheric and oceanic sciences. (Princeton.edu photo)

Venkatramani Balaji, a researcher at Princeton University, was among 18 researchers chosen to take part in French President Emmanuel Macron's climate science program.

Balaji heads the Modeling Systems Group at Princeton's program in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, a collaboration between the university and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Additionally, the Indian American serves as an associate faculty member at the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering.

After Macron’s invitation, France’s National Centre for Scientific Research selected 11 men and seven women from six countries for the project to investigate a range of climate-related issues, including agriculture and food security, ocean-atmosphere interactions and renewable energy, the university said in a news release.

The researchers have received grants of up to $1.7 million to set up labs for three to five years at scientific institutions across France, it said.

Balaji’s project, known as Project Hermès (High-Resolution Modeling of the Earth System), includes creating very high-resolution simulations — at the limit of today’s computing technology — of key processes in the atmosphere and oceans, Princeton said.

These simulations are used to build and train fast approximations of the Earth system to explore questions that are currently impossible with the full model, it added.

“The unique feature of Project Hermès is the combination of computationally challenging simulations and fast models for uncertainty exploration,” Balaji said in the report.

In the coming months, he will set up shop at the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace on the Jussieu campus of Paris’s Sorbonne University, under the auspices of the Climate and Environmental Sciences Laboratory in Saclay, France’s Atomic Energy Commission, the University of Versailles in St. Quentin in Yvelines and the CNRS, according to Princeton.

“Hermès will build upon work I’ve done with colleagues at Princeton and GFDL for more than 20 years, and we of course will continue to collaborate for the duration of this project as well,” Balaji added in the report.

Balaji is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur. He has headed the Modeling Systems Group at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory since 2003.

He is co-chair of the WGCM Infrastructure Panel, tasked with developing the scientific requirements for the global data infrastructure underlying the Climate Model Intercomparison Project, a pillar of the IPCC Assessment Reports of the state of the Earth’s climate, according to his Princeton bio.

He was an author on the 2012 National Academies Report ‘A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling’ and the 2016 National Academies Report,’ From Maps to Models: Augmenting the Nation’s Geospatial Intelligence Capabilities’, it added.

He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, as well as for DOE’s Accelerated Climate Modeling for Energy Project, and NCAR’s Computing and Information Systems Lab.

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