Senior scientist and head of the Climate Change Research Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), he has advised five U.S. presidents on climate change. Washington was one of the first developers of computer models for predicting atmospheric and climatic conditions.
From 1974 to 1984, Washington served on the president’s National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. In May of 1995, he was appointed to the National Science Board, which helps oversee the National Science Foundation and advises the White House and Congress on science-related matters.
Washington participated in several panels of the National Research Council and chaired its advisory group for “Climate Puzzle,” a film produced for the 1986 PBS television series Planet Earth. He was a member of the U.S. secretary of energy’s advisory board from 1990 to 1993 and has served on the secretary of energy’s Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee since 1990.
Washington has more than 120 publications to his credit and is co-author with Claire Parkinson of a textbook that has become a standard reference: An Introduction to Three-Dimensional Climate Modeling. In later years, Washington has worked with other scientists to incorporate ocean and sea ice physics into climate models. Such models now involve atmospheric, ocean, sea ice, surface hydrology and vegetation components.
Born in Portland, Ore., Washington earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in meteorology from Oregon State University. He joined NCAR in 1963 as a research scientist after completing a doctorate in meteorology at The Pennsylvania State University. His group at NCAR shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as significant contributors to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.