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Scientist named to NOAA post

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NOAA Release

don johsonEmeritus professor and research scientist Donald R. Johnson has been appointed NCEP Special Project Scientist for the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Johnson is a highly regarded scientist specializing in diagnostic analysis and numerical modeling of the atmosphere. He and his modeling group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are currently developing a general circulation model (the UW Hybrid Model ) that provides the potential to advance the accuracy of numerical prediction. NCEP has asked him to work with models used by the National Weather Service in forecasting weather and climate.

As the NCEP Project Scientist, Johnson will seek answers to questions like, Why do some models make better predictions than others? He plans to use his experience with his UW Hybrid Model as a basis and plans to focus on regional climate.

Johnson said that he is “looking forward to this opportunity of direct interaction with a wide range of scientists.” He will work with scientists in the National Science Foundation, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, other federal agencies and various universities.

Johnson is to be active in three major areas. He said, “I will be very much involved with the development of the next generation of weather and climate models.” He hopes to work for closer collaboration of all agencies that develop weather and climate models. He is also eager for scientific exchange in other areas, such as the North American Monsoon Experiment, which studies the summer-time heavy rains over portions of the U.S. and Central and South America. He also expects to work with key scientific officers in the National Weather Service to shorten the lag between science advances and operational use. He seeks to advance the use of satellite data in numerical models, an extremely important issue due to the tremendous amount of satellite data that is available globally now and in the future for global simulations of weather and climate.

NCEP director Louis Uccellini said, “Dr. Johnson is a renowned expert in atmospheric energetics, global circulation and the utilization of advanced research models for analysis and prediction.” Uccellini studied with Johnson at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the 1970s.

Johnson notes that through the efforts of SSEC’s founding director, Verner E. Suomi, the university's connection with NOAA is long. SSEC became home to a group of NOAA researchers in 1977, headed by William L. Smith. The NOAA group works with the university's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies in SSEC to develop techniques for better weather forecasts. Johnson directed the Cooperative Institute's activities in the late 1990s.

Johnson retired from active teaching in UW-Madison’s Department of Atmospheric Science in 1994. Since that time, he has continued research in numerical modeling at the university's Space Science and Engineering Center and accepted a position with the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, MD where he is now vice president for Earth Sciences. The new NOAA scientist position is nominally half time with a quarter of his time spent in Washington, D.C. He still maintains an active presence in Wisconsin.

Besides being influential with his research into numerical modeling and atmospheric energetics, Johnson has helped more than three dozen students graduate with Master's or Ph.D. degrees. He has also served as president of the American Meteorological Society and served on numerous national and international science committees and boards. His colleagues have honored him with fellowships in both the American Meteorological Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

More information can be found about Donald Johnson’s group efforts in modeling the atmosphere and hydrological cycle on their Web site.

An interview with Emeritus Professor Johnson can be arranged through SSEC's Public Information Officer, 608-263-3373.

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