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Climatologist scoops major prize at IoP awards

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Climatologist Barbara Maher has been awarded the Chree Medal and Prize, the Institute of Physics' highest honour, for her work on predicting climate change on Earth.

Maher, who is Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Lancaster, uses studies of magnetism in rocks and soil to track changes in the climate. Her work revealed a link between the climate and the magnetism of rocks and soil, and allowed her to reconstruct the Earth's climate over geological timescales.

It means that she can also differentiate between changes caused by natural events, and those resulting from human activity. This helps other researchers working on the question of climate change understand how our activities today could affect the climate of tomorrow, because it provides hard data of the geological history of the Earth's weather against which they can check their models.

The awards were presented at a ceremony at the Savoy Hotel in London last night. Other winners include John Ellis, who won the Dirac medal for his work on the Higgs boson and the top quark; William Vinen, who was awarded the Guthrie medal for the first direct confirmation of the application of quantum mechanics to a macroscopic body - superfluid helium. Geoff Hall won the Duddell Medal for work which has enabled the precise detection and measurement of charged particles produced at the Large Hadron Collider.

Dr Paul Danielsen, director of communications at the IoP, noted that the awards "recognise outstanding achievements by physicists in their respective fields. Previous winners constitute a roll-call of those who have shaped physics in the 20th century. This year's winners demonstrate that UK physicists continue to make remarkable contributions into the 21st Century." ®

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