Dr. James Hansen Receives Navy Meritorious Civilian Award

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory physical scientist Dr. James Hansen, of the Meteorological Applications Development Branch, Monterey, Calif., is the recipient of the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for meritorious performance of service as research and development lead in the Piracy Attack Risk Surface (PARS) project.

Dr.CAPT Anthony J. Ferrari, NRL Commanding Officer, presents Dr. James Hansen, physical scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory Meteorological Applications Development Branch, the Department of the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Dr. Hansen receives the award for meritorious performance of service as research and development lead in the Piracy Attack Risk Surface (PARS) project. (Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory - Marine Meteorology Division)

PARS dynamically couples shipping, pirate behavior, and meteorology and oceanography (METOC) to identify areas that are subject to the greatest risk of pirate attack. This predictive product enables the Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and others policing piracy to maximize placement of limited assets for successful deterrence and interdiction operations.

Dr. Hansen's high level of technical proficiency in probability, statistics, and ensemble modeling enabled him to develop methodologies to successfully model pirate behavior and quantify the uncertainties associated with these predictions, said Dr. Simon Chang, superintendent, Marine Meteorology Division. His exceptional ability, superb leadership, professionalism and loyal dedication to duty reflect great credit upon himself and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

The sophisticated PARS model simulates piracy behavior ranging from a single small skiff operating near the coast using ocean currents to extend their range, to the use of multiple mother ships supporting numerous independent and coordinated piracy attack groups thousands of miles away. PARS exploits pirate operational and tactical input parameters available from the Office of Naval Intelligence, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces supporting anti-piracy operations. The PARS model is run operationally each day and disseminated via the Naval Oceanographic Office.

Beginning his federal career in 2006 as a research scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Global Modeling Section located in Monterey, Calif., Hansen progressed to the position of lead scientist of the Probabilistic-Prediction Research Office in 2008 and is branch head of NRL's Meteorological Applications Development Branch.

A Rhodes Scholar, Hansen graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder, receiving a master's degree in aerospace engineering in 1993. In 1998 he received a doctorate in philosophy (D.Phil.) in atmospheric, oceanic and planetary physics from Oxford University, Oxford, United Kingdom, where he developed his thesis on adaptive observations in spatially-extended, nonlinear dynamical systems.

Hansen is the lead scientist for the U.S. Observing System Research and Predictability Experiment (THORPEX), a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) international research and development program and is a member of the National Science Foundation's Geosciences Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the National Unified Operational Prediction Capability Post-Processing committee and editor of the American Meteorological Society's Monthly Weather Review. In addition, Hansen has published articles in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, Physica D, Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, Tellus, World Resource Review, and the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.