Dr. Andrea Celeste Saulo is the Second Vice-President of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Director of the National Meteorological Service in Argentina, a full professor at the University of Buenos Aires and a research scientist at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research. Dr. Saulo’s involvement in regional and international activities is extensive, especially in the capacity building of the young regional scientists. She’s an investigator of the IAI CRN3035 project on a quality-controlled weather database for developing climate information products for stakeholders.
With the new temperature records and other extreme climate events that have been observed recently, raising the people’s awareness on climate issues is more crucial than ever. Every year on March 23rd, WMO marks the World Meteorological Day to commemorate the day of establishment of the World Meteorological Organization in 1950. Member countries all around the world participate in activities to highlight weather and climate-related issues. This year’s theme, “The Sun, the Earth and the Weather” emphasizes the sun’s impacts on earth, climate, and our well-being.
1. Can you remember the moment you decided to become a scientist?
It is hard to define a moment. I would say it was a process. I started my Ph.D. and everything was flowing smoothly, doing my research and discussing with my mentor. I was working on my thesis and I realized that I was becoming a scientist, developing a critical way of thinking, being curious, looking for new questions and finding new answers...
2. What are some of your research findings (or career highlights)?
One of the topics of research I've enjoyed most is that related with the South American Low-Level jet and its role in the organization of deep convection at its exit region, thus generating heavy precipitating events over Central Argentina. Probably, the reason why I've enjoyed this topic so much is that I covered it from different perspectives: observational, participating in the SALLJEX (South America Low-level Jet field Experiment), performing analysis of unique data sets and then carrying out model experiments, testing different hypotheses to better understand the underlying mechanisms. Through this work, together with many other colleagues, we were able to build a conceptual model of how this jet interacts with organized convection that contributed to improving our forecasts. Also, I started this research as a post-doc in Brazil and ended it supervising a Ph.D. thesis at the University of Buenos Aires. I also felt a personal growth while doing this research.
3. This year’s World Meteorological Day theme is “The Sun, the Earth, and the Weather”. Why is it important to raise awareness about the sun on World Meteorological Day?
Although we have recognized the key importance of the sun in driving the atmospheric circulation since the early stages of our discipline, it is incredible how much we have been learning about the role of the solar activity and its cycles in modulating climate at different time scales in the last decade. Now, new satellites will improve our knowledge of what we call "space weather" which relates to what happens in the outer space (e.g. cosmic rays and other phenomena) and solar activity. It is clear that our science has still lots of things to understand related with the sun, solar variability, and its interaction with other phenomena of the upper atmosphere.
4. WMO conducts observation of climate around the world. Which aspect of climate change worries you the most?
The increased occurrence of extreme events is what worries me the most. The fact that our societies are being exposed to phenomena that have never been experienced before and that they are not prepared, particularly those that are more vulnerable. On the other hand, it worries me that besides all the efforts made by the scientific community through the IPCC and its reports, there is no clear evidence of greenhouse gases emission decrease. It is hard to be optimistic, and I think that we need to reinforce our commitment to work hard on this topic.
5. What is the most urgent action we need to take to prevent further temperature rises?
As mentioned before, we need to be better at decreasing greenhouse gases emissions. This is an effort that cannot be accomplished by a single sector, but we need social and natural scientists to work together with the civil society and decision makers to convey a clear message and take responsibility.
6. Could you tell me what you like to do when you aren't working?
I like reading and listening to music. But I have to recognize that I spend most of my time working because I'm really passionate about what I do. So sometimes I'm just doing nothing, but thinking about how can I do something new to improve our service. I'm a dreamer and a fighter...
7. What’s one bit of science that you think everyone should know?
One bit of science? It is hard to define that. I would rather say that I'd love that everyone could cultivate a critical way of thinking, the one that we usually relate with scientists. For me, this is one key for moving forward.
8. As an IAI project scientist, do you think the IAI has an important role in the Americas?
Definitely, yes. The IAI started with a clear vision of increasing interdisciplinary research. It took us some time (speaking from the natural sciences) to understand and really carry out this type of research. But the IAI helped us to jump a barrier, to think, work and co-produce knowledge. The IAI was innovative in this sense, while also pushing us to cross -geographical barriers, fostering collaborations that strengthened the Inter-American research community. In both senses, I envision IAI as a strategic partner of WMO that now will start a new era in terms of fostering the “science for service” concept. We need to attract scientists to work collaboratively with Met Services if we want the Americas to be ready to face the huge challenges associated with disaster risk reduction and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.