Faculty Member Peter Webster Wins Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water
Professor Peter Webster of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences accepts International Creativity Prize for Water at United Nations.
There will be a reception for Peter Webster December 7, 2016 at 3:30pm in the Ford ES&T building atrium.
Peter Webster, a professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, has won the Creativity Prize of the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water (PSIPW). Awarded every two years by a council of individuals representing the government of Saudi Arabia and international academic institutions, the Creativity Prize recognizes innovative approaches to solving the problems of global water scarcity and potable water availability.
Webster’s contribution to water science is informed by his understanding of ocean-atmosphere interactions, a research topic he has pursued for many years. Using data from sophisticated weather forecast models in the U.K., as well as river inundation models, Webster and his team developed analysis methods and algorithms to forecast major floods during monsoon seasons in Asia.
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The prize is awarded to Dr. Webster for his work on ocean-atmosphere interactions and their effect on monsoon strength, which is used to provide one to two-week lead time forecasts of monsoonal floods that often provoke catastrophic inundations in highly populated coastal regions.
Dr. Webster started using the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting (ECMWF) global model for predicting the active and break cycles of the monsoon and developed a method for forecasting upcoming dry and wet spells based on statistical analysis of the ECMWF output. He combined the ECMWF weather forecasts with a river runoff model to forecast river flow and also the inundation following the flood “front”. The system has been able to predict with remarkable accuracy the probability of floods that have devastated Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, and India in the last several years. He then went beyond led the development of the Climate Forecast Applications in Bangladesh (CFAB) project, in which he developed and implemented a probabilistic rainfall and river discharge forecast system for the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers in Bangladesh, which were successfully put to test in the 2007 and 2008 floods. In 2012, Webster helped the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES) to obtain a regional stream of the daily ECMWF forecast output. With this data, RIMES was able to take over the CFAB forecasts for Bangladesh, providing them daily to the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre of Bangladesh. He has also applied these models to the Indus River.
Dr. Webster received his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972. He began his career at Georgia Tech in 2002 where his research interests include low-frequency atmospheric and ocean dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interactions, and wave propagation through complex flows. In 2006, Peter became the Chief Scientist and co-founder of Climate Forecast Application Network (CFAN), a Georgia Tech enterprise company. In 2016, Dr. Webster received the Georgia Tech Sigma Xi Sustained Research Award. Dr. Webster is a Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society and Royal Meteorological Society.