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Radiation Conference Honors Verner Suomi

by Terri Gregory, SSEC Public Information Specialist
July 1999

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In the News CIMSS scientist Steve Ackerman appeared on Madison’s WISC-TV’s morning news show Friday, June 25, to talk about the 10th Conference on Atmospheric Radiation. The Conference, jointly sponsored by the American Meteorological Society and UW–Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center, would feature tributes to Verner E. Suomi, SSEC’s founding director. Steve told viewers of Professor Suomi’s pioneering work with weather satellites. He amazed the news anchor with an account of Professor Suomi’s visualizing a continuous display of satellite imagery while watching football instant replay on TV.

A news release by AMS consultant Stephanie Kenitzer and UW’s Terry Devitt went to regional news outlets, especially weather broadcasters on June 21. The release followed Terry’s advisory explaining that the conference would “portray some of the most important research from around the world into the influence of radiation from the sun and other sources on climate, clouds, tropical storms, snow cover and rainfall.” Terry also noted that “the late Verner Suomi … conducted some of the first insightful measurements of the energy delivered to Earth from the sun.”

Isthmus, Madison’s free weekly newspaper, listed SSEC in its Conventions section. In Isthmus for June 25, UW Space Science and Engineering Center was listed as a group to meet at Monona Terrace.

The conference was held June 28 through July 2 in Madison’s Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. It attracted 250 atmospheric radiation researchers who presented topics ranging from retrieving data “hiding between the lines” in radiance spectra from SSEC’s Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer to a climate atlas made from long wavelength infrared radiation data, both new research approaches. Paper abstracts are still available on the Web (as of July 13) and the Proceedings are published by the American Meteorological Society.

For more information, follow the links below.

Invited talks highlighted the conference. Many of these were tributes to Verner Suomi which presented research grounded in his own pioneering work on Earth’s heat budget, showcased new research which Professor Suomi surely would have championed, or included Suomi stories, some with Suomi one-liners. These have come to be known affectionately as “Suomi-isms” and include “No amount of planning can replace dumb luck,” his exhorting cautious scientists to “take a bravery pill,” and, “If man can build it, I can make it work.”

At Tuesday’s banquet William L. Smith, former CIMSS director who now directs atmospheric research at NASA’s Langley Research Center, gave a warm personal account of Verner Suomi’s life based on their 30 years of work together. Master of Ceremonies Paul Menzel, NESDIS research scientist, told his own stories and opened the floor to others, including Suomi student Thomas Vonder Haar, who now directs the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University.

For more information, follow the links below.

Besides presentations of state-of-the-art research at UW and around the world, demonstrations of SSEC work were given, particularly of VISITView, a distance learning training tool to teach National Weather Service forecasters. SSEC presenters also previewed the Verner Suomi Virtual Museum to be open for business on the Web this fall.

For more information, follow the links below.

ITT Industries used 2 images from SSEC’s Web site on its poster advertising POES products—the sea surface temperature composite and the global montage. Both are shown with the SSEC credit line.

For more information, follow the links below.

Timely Satellite Data Heralded

George Gallepp (with UW–Madison’s Agricultural and Consumer Press Service) reported the Soil Science and CIMSS Internet work which “replaces the old University of Wisconsin Automated Weather Observation Network.” Products on the Web sites are the combined work of SSEC’s CIMSS, the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Cooperative Extension Service with funding from NASA, the agriculture industry and UW–Madison’s Graduate School. Soil scientist Bill Bland, credited with the Internet approach, said that “weather data is the backbone of most integrated pest management and integrated crop management programs.” At SSEC, scientist George Diak developed 48-hour forecasts from the CIMSS numerical weather model, while soil physicist John Norman (CALS) applies his own model to specific agricultural uses. Growers visit the Web site about 1500 times a month during the growing season.

For more information, follow the links below.

CIMSS Director Named

Steven Ackerman, AOS professor and SSEC scientist, has been named director of SSEC’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. Steve has been a CIMSS researcher since 1987 and a professor in UW–Madison’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences since 1992. Steve received a distinguished teaching award this year. He researches the transport of aerosols, and the effects of contrails and other clouds on the atmosphere. Versions of a news release are posted with details on UW–Madison’s home page under Milestones (left frame), in Wisconsin Week Wire for July 14, and on SSEC’s media page.

For more information, follow the links below.

In Print

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HAWC

SSEC ADR

Astronomical Refrigerator Noted

Space News (June 28) included SSEC’s Adiabatic Demagnetized Refrigerator on its short features page. The piece focused on the ADR being made for the University of Chicago’s High Resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC). Work on the HAWC ADR has just begun; it is not completed as reported in the headline. Otherwise the piece accurately represents the ADR’s use: “the refrigerator cools the HAWC’s detector[s] to a constant temperature near absolute zero … at which all molecular activity ceases.” According to program manager Bob Paulos, the HAWC detectors (bolometers) count photons by measuring small individual temperature increases. HAWC will fly as a first payload (a first light instrument) on NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) in 2001. Professor Dan McCammon, space physics group, is principal investigator for the ADR.
CIMSS

Site Lauded

CIMSS and its GOES Gallery were touted as Web site of the day in Madison’s Capital Times newspaper for June 25. Higher education reporter Gwen Carleton said that the CIMSS Web site “offers a birds-eye view of the most dramatic weather events in the nation.” Scott Bachmeier, CIMSS’ GOES Gallery editor, has compiled interesting weather phenomena since 1996. He and others provide meteorological background and imagery for each weather event.
GOES Burning

Elaine Prins, who leads the CIMSS NOAA group, was featured in the Stoughton News “Know Your Neigbor” section. Reporter Dan Whelan asked Elaine probing questions about her duties and her interest in weather. As the article states, Elaine “is studying and researching the impacts of climate changes and hazards caused by fires occurring in the Western Hemisphere.” Learn more about her work with geostationary weather satellites on her group’s Web site.
The Ice

A Washington Post reporter interviewed Rob Holmes for information on the South Pole. Rob has visited the pole as part of his duties with Charles Stearns’ Automatic Weather Station program. The story ran Thursday, July 8, and was related to an emergency air drop of medical supplies the previous weekend. Rob’s information on weather conditions was used as background.
Triana/DSCOVR

The New York Times (June 1) featured Triana and problems facing the proposed satellite. Brainchild of U.S. Vice President Al Gore, the simple little satellite would view Earth from an orbit (around L-1) keeping the planet’s summer side up. Like a geostationary satellite, Triana would see the whole earth. However, its L-1 orbit would ensure that the earth was always in sunshine; the satellite would always view the tropics and the hemisphere currently experiencing summer.

The satellite proposed by Scripps Institution of Oceanography would “see” light in a variety of wavelengths, “from ultraviolet to near infrared to measure ozone, cloud height, aerosols … and other parameters.” It could also take detailed measurements of the moon passing between Earth and the satellite. Since NASA’s acceptance of the Scripps proposal, Triana has run into political and scientific opposition and may not survive the budget process. According to the NYT, Donald R. Johnson, SSEC associate director who now directs the Universities Space Research Association’s Division of Earth Sciences, thought that “continued monitoring of Earth can attract attention to the planet’s problems globally and be a useful educational tool.”

On the Net

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Tropical Cyclones

Winds Used in Hurricane Forecasting

CIMSS’ Tropical Cyclone group—Chris Velden, Tim Olander, Jason Dunion and Dave Stettner—produce wind measurements which help describe hurricane tracks using water vapor imagery of the GOES weather satellite. NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division has used the data since about 1997 (beginning with Hurricane Danny or before) in analyzing wind radii of tropical cyclones. The group got its start when Chris Velden helped take McIDAS to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in 1985.

Since that time, the NHC has used McIDAS to show hurricanes approaching the U.S. coast, and has recently begun to use the CIMSS wind measurements. NHC reports that it is using CIMSS cloud drift winds again this year and mentions them regularly in online discussions. The NHC primarily utilizes wind shear and divergence products.

The CIMSS wind measurements are mentioned regularly in the tropical cyclone discussion group of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center at Pearl Harbor, HI and other Navy forecast groups. The email list is one that meteorologists depend on for forecasts of weather events in the Pacific Ocean.

An example of wind measurements made from water vapor imagery can be seen on the cover of the Proceedings of the Fourth International Winds Workshop. The workshop took place in Switzerland in October 1998; the proceedings were recently published. The field of water vapor wind measurements illustrates a paper by Holmlund and Velden.

Over the Air

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Antarctic Meteorology Research Center

SSEC’s Antarctic Meteorology Research Center supplied NSF videotapes to NBC Nightly News. Reporters also interviewed AMRC researchers Matthew Lazzara and Rob Holmes. NBC also used a still from Rob’s unofficial Web site. The interviews and tapes of Antarctic conditions and activities were part of a story on a medical emergency in Antarctica. Wisconsin Public Broadcasting sent taped material to NBC in New York from their satellite dish on Madison’s South Beltline Highway.

Outreach and Education

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Madison Astronomical Society

SSEC Outreach

The Madison Astronomical Society recognized Sanjay Limaye and Rosalyn Pertzborn of SSEC’s outreach office at their annual banquet in April. Capitol Skies, the society’s newsletter, noted in June that Rosalyn and Sanjay “were tireless in theier efforts to organize the 1998 Department of Planetary Sciences convention.” The society especially appreciated the efforts expended to make the event meaningful for hundreds of Wisconsin school children who visited an exhibit held during the meeting.

Direct comments, questions, and information about other SSEC media appearances to SSEC's Public Information Officer. For information about past media appearances, visit the SSEC In the News page.

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