Richardson Medal 2023 awarded to Prof. A. Vulpiani

Our colleague from the Physics Department of the University of Rome “La Sapienza” Prof. Angelo Vulpiani, ISC associate, has been awarded the 2023 Lewis Fry Richardson Medal is awarded “for contributions to stochastic resonance, as a mechanism for climate variability, the development of multifractals to describe turbulence and chaotic systems, and its implications for predictability”.

Angelo Vulpiani has significantly advanced nonlinear and statistical physics, nonlinear processes and nonlinear geoscience. He made important contributions to stochastic resonance including as a mechanism for climate variability. He helped develop the multifractal model for turbulence and chaotic dynamical systems, furthering our understanding of intermittency and the physics of turbulent energy cascades. He made numerous contributions to the understanding of multiscale dynamical systems (their modeling, predictability etc).

Particularly relevant to nonlinear geoprocesses – and the Richardson medal – are his contributions to the understanding of particle pair separation in turbulence. This problem was pioneered by Richardson himself and Angelo Vulpiani characterized it in terms of the Finite Size Lyapunov Exponent (FSLE). Over the last 20 years, the FSLE has become a standard measurement for in situ experiments and has been used to study turbulence in the ocean and atmosphere in both mixing and predictability problems. The FSLE effectively measures the growth of errors – for the case of particles, a slight change in initial position – relevant notably to the spread of pollutants, volcanic ash and radioactive fallout. The same approach can be used to characterise predictability, a central concern in weather and ocean prediction.

Angelo Vulpiani has published over 200 peer reviewed papers and many text books. He is the recipient of the 2021 European Physical Society’s Statistical and Nonlinear Physics Prize and since 2004 he has been a fellow of the Institute of Physics. His legacy includes a key role in establishing a school of nonlinear physics and physical fluid dynamics in Italy. For the general public, he has written newspaper articles and books popularizing science, its history and epistemology.