Marty Ralph
Marty Ralph

F. Martin Ralph, Ph.D.

Special Recognition Award

Below is the text found on the Special Recognition Award presented to Marty Ralph at the 2018 California Extreme Precipitation Symposium held at the University of California, Davis on July 9, 2018.

Special Recognition Award

Presented To

F. Martin Ralph, Ph.D.

Your colleagues and friends want to acknowledge and thank you for your unique passion, vision, dedication, and collaborative leadership to understand the forecasting challenges of extreme precipitation events impacting the Western U.S.

In 1992 you started as a research meteorologist at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory. In 1994 the term "atmospheric river" first appeared in the literature. As Chief Scientist of PACJET and CALJET field experiments, you identified these phenomena as critical to West Coast extreme precipitation. Now "atmospheric river" is routinely used to alert the public to potential extreme winter storms.

From 2001-2013 as Chief of ESRL's Water Cycle Branch, you led the creation of NOAA's Hydrometeorology Testbed to accelerate the infusion of new observing technologies, models, and scientific results from the research community to improve National Weather Service daily forecasts.

Collaboration is central to your success. You developed an extensive collaborative scientific network with other NOAA research labs, NOAA line offices, local forecast offices, and universities. After highlighting the need for research investments, you worked tirelessly with Federal, state, local agencies, and elected officials to garner research support. This led to the highly successful CalWater I and II field experiments that focused on the physical properties of ARs.

Knowing the importance of better observations from HMT's results, you convinced NOAA and the California Department of Water Resources to fund the 21st Century Observing Network for California. It brings cutting edge observation, display, modeling, and decision support capabilities to bear on the state's water resource and flood protection issues. You expanded these ideas to cover the entire Western US by partnering with the Western States Water Council.

In 2013 you left NOAA to create the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes within Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to realize your conviction that a focused organization is needed for resolving the West's most vexing weather and water forecasting challenges. CW3E is tackling these challenges while developing the next generation of researchers committed to this important cause. CW3E hosted the 2nd International Atmospheric River Conference this June.

Co-leading the prototype Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations research for Lake Mendocino (2014) and Prado Reservoir (2017) is a natural evolution of your scientific explorations and application to Western U.S. challenges and opportunities.

Sharing your deep scientific knowledge is second nature as exhibited by publication of 118 refereed articles with 30 as first author and being CEPSYM's most frequent speaker at seven starting in 1999.

Your work is ongoing but it is time to recognize your "watershed" changing contributions which profoundly advanced our understanding of the physical processes producing Western US extreme precipitation ranging from floods to droughts. This knowledge saves lives, lessens hardships, reduces property damage, and enables resilient communities. On behalf of everyone benefiting from all you have done and will do, Thank You!

California Extreme Precipitation Symposium
July 9, 2018

Professional Background

For a complete list of Marty's honors, publications, programs and projects, and employment history up to the date of this award, see his full CV [PDF* .3 MB].


At the Event

Presentation of award to Marty Ralph
Left-to-right: Gary Estes (CEPSYM Founder), Marty Ralph, and Rob Hartman (Hydrologist-in-Charge, retired, California-Nevada River Forecast Center) sharing the moment

Marty was invited to say a few words at this symposium. His comments are included in the audio of the presentation below. Here are the slides he discusses in the audio:

Download the slides [PDF* 1.1 MB]

Hear the presentation:

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