Rick Thoman

Richard “Rick” Thoman, an Alaska climate specialist at IARC’s Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP) is a 2020 recipient of a NOAA Distinguished Career Award for Professional Achievement. The award recognizes individual NOAA employees—present and recently retired such as Rick—who have made long-term contributions and commitments to accomplishing NOAA goals. 

The NOAA Distinguished Career Award honors contributions on a sustained basis and a body of work, rather than a single defined accomplishment.  In addition, this award recognizes significant accomplishments across all NOAA program areas and functions that have resulted in long-term benefits to the bureau’s mission and strategic goals.  

Rick was honored after a 30 year career with the National Weather Service for continued efforts to improve climate services in Alaska and for outstanding outreach efforts working with the Alaska Native community.  

The following information is modified from the submitted nomination.


Rick has a passion for Alaska and Alaskans and dedicated his 30 year career to addressing the unparalleled impacts of climate change in the state. 

Among his many accomplishments, Rick spearheaded the NWS Alaska’s push to extend beyond the normal one to eight day forecasts to meet the emerging requirements for medium range and seasonal forecasts in Alaska. Rick worked tirelessly with Alaska customers like the State of Alaska, the Alaska Interagency Coordination (wildland fire) Center as well as other federal agencies to understand user needs and, along with modelers and scientists at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, address those needs. His coordination and expertise has a track record of tangible impact-based decision support results, especially in resource allocation planning that is critical in remote Alaska.    

Coupling his passion for Alaska Native culture with expertise in climate science, Rick emerged as a respected resource for coastal resiliency, and understanding impacts of climate change on subsistence and fisheries.  The true extent of Rick’s influence can best be measured by the number of people and agencies who use and trust the climate information that he regularly produces, including all of Bush Alaska.


Rick now continues his efforts to improve climate services to all of Alaska and especially Alaska Native communities in his role with IARC. Well done Rick and we are honored to work with you!

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