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IMO prize to first ECMWF Director

10 June 2011

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The 56th IMO prize has been awarded to the late Aksel Wiin-Nielsen as a lifetime achievement award. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has awarded scientists for outstanding contributions in the field of meteorology, climatology, hydrology and related sciences. The scientists were selected by the WMO Executive Council during its annual June meeting.

The IMO prize is WMO’s most prestigious award. It originates from WMO's predecessor, the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873. It is granted annually by the WMO Executive Council for outstanding work in the field of meteorology or in any other field referred to in Article 2 of the WMO Convention.

Professor Wiin-Nielsen, who passed away last year, was particularly renown for his leadership and success in setting up ECMWF. A Danish national, Professor Wiin-Nielsen was ECMWF’s first Director from I January 1974 to 31 December 1979. He put ECMWF on track to become a world leader in global Numerical Weather Prediction. On leaving ECMWF he became WMO Secretary-General in 1980, and then Director of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) in 1984. In that function, Professor Wiin-Nielsen returned to ECMWF to attend sessions of the ECMWF Council, representing Denmark. He served as President of the ECMWF Council in 1987.

This is the second time that this prize is awarded to a former ECMWF Director after Lennart Bengtsson in 2006.