Ye is considered the founder of Chinese atmospheric physics, and was awarded the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award in 2005 by President Hu Jintao, which is the nation's highest scientific prize.
1935-1941, Ye studied at Qinghua University, Beijing. 1941-1943, he did his graduate study (M.Sc) at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou. 1943-1944, he was a research assistant at the Meteorological Institute, Academia Sinica, Chongqing (war-period capital of China).
1945-1948, Ye studied at University of Chicago USA, and obtained his PhD there (under Carl-Gustaf Rossby). 1947-1950, he was a research staff at University of Chicago. 1950-1966, Ye served as a division director and professor at the Institute of Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. From 1966 till now, he was the chief director and later the honorary director of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Science (IAP/CAS). 1981-1984, he was the vice-president of Chinese Academy of Science. From 1984, he was also an advisor of Chinese Academy of Science.
1978-1986, Ye was the president of Chinese Meteorological Society. 1982-1988, he was the chairman of the Chinese National Committee for the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). 1987-1991, he was the chairman of the Chinese National Committee for International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG). 1987-1993, he was the chairman of the Chinese National Committee for the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP).