In 2020, the AFEQ-CNF INQUA has rewarded for the first time a professional francophone whose career has been devoted to the study of Quaternary whatever the discipline concerned. Set to be awarded every two years, this distinction honors Henriette Alimen (1900-1996), a French geologist known for her many works on the Quaternary of the Pyrenees and Africa, former president of the Société Géologique de France and founder of the Laboratory of Quaternary Geology in Meudon.
Rules of the contest
Each nomination must be submitted by two members of the AFEQ-CNF INQUA, at least one of whom does not belong to the same laboratory as the person proposed. The assessment of the files is entrusted to the Association Council (CA), assisted if necessary by external stakeholders. The final decision is voted on by the CA. The selection criteria include the candidate’s national and international scientific outreach and the services provided to AFEQ-CNF INQUA or other international associations working for the Quaternary.
The nomination file includes a letter of justification signed by the two members of the AFEQ-CNF INQUA who sponsor the candidate, a curriculum vitae, a list of publications and, possibly, letters of support from Quaternary specialists, members or not of the AFEQ-CNF INQUA. The file must not exceed 5 pages. It should be sent in digital format (pdf) before September 30, 2019 to Julie Dabkowski, Secretary of the AFEQ-CNF INQUA (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The first Henriette Alimen medal was awarded in February 2020 at the Quaternary Q12 symposium in Paris by the President of AFEQ-CNF INQUA and the laureate Catherine Ritz gave a presentation of her work on this occasion.
Catherine Ritz is CNRS research director at the Institut des Géosciences de l’Environnement in Grenoble. She made a major contribution to the dating of ice cores and to the modeling of the evolution of large polar caps.
She had a major contribution to the dating of the Antarctic core of Vostok, which was the first to cover one, then four glacial-interglacial cycles (eg Ritz et al., J. Geophys. Res., 2001 and references included). She developed the use of inverse methods and data assimilation for many glaciological problems (paleothermometry, ice flow, altimetry, gas transport in firn, dating). She has also strongly contributed to the coupling of ice cap and climate models, through a long collaboration with the LSCE. A striking result, included in the 5th Synthesis Report of the IPCC, is the evolution of Greenland during the preceding interglacial (120,000 years ago) obtained by forcing the model to impose the presence of ice at the NEEM glacial drilling (since the Eemien was found there), this implies that Greenland’s contribution to sea level was quite modest at that time (between 0.65 and 1.5 m) and in compensation, it suggests a significant contribution from Antarctica (Quiquet et al., 2013). In a 1st author article in Nature (Ritz et al., 2015), she also showed that glaciological mechanisms make very strong contributions of Antarctica to the future sea level suggested by other authors implausible.
Antarctica and Greenland from this model both participate in the ISMIP6 experiments for the 6th IPCC Synthesis Report and will be used in the IPSL and Météo France models.
Award ceremony of the Henriette Alimen medal to Catherine Ritz (right) by AFEQ President Pascal Bertran (left) and AFEQ Secretary Julie Dabkowski during the Q12 conference, February 2020, Paris.
In recent years, she has been strongly involved in the modeling of geophysical data in order to select the site of the future European drilling aiming to obtain an ice core more than 1.5 million years old (eg Passalacqua et al., 2017; Cavitte et al., 2018).
Her presence for 6 years on the Council of the International Glaciological Society, her election to Section 37 of the National Council of Universities (2012-2015) and recently as Vice-President of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research in charge of science (2018-) testify to her national and international influence.
Passalacqua, O., Ritz, C., Parrenin, F., Urbini, S., and Frezzotti, M.: Geothermal flux and basal melt rate in the Dome C region inferred from radar reflectivity and heat modelling, The Cryosphere, 11, 2231-2246, https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-11-2231-2017, 2017.
Quiquet, A., Ritz, C., Punge, H. J., and Salas y Mélia, D.: Greenland ice sheet contribution to sea level rise during the last interglacial period: a modelling study driven and constrained by ice core data, Clim. Past, 9, 353-366, https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-9-353-2013, 2013.
Ritz, C., Rommelaere, V. and Dumas, C.: Modeling the evolution of Antarctic ice sheet over the last 420 000 years: implications for altitude changes in the Vostok region. J. Geophys. Res. 106, (D23), 31, 943-31, 964, 2001.
Ritz C., Edwards T.L., Durand G., Payne A.J., Peyaud V. and Hindmarsh R.C.A. Potential sea-level rise from Antarctic ice-sheet instability constrained by observations Nature 528, 115–118 doi:10.1038/nature16147, 2015.