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Steve Ackerman

Steve Ackerman, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, is an expert in the area of satellite meteorology, a field largely invented at UW–Madison. He is well known as an accomplished researcher, teacher and communicator of the science of weather and climate. He previously served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research in the Physical Sciences. As Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, Ackerman oversees the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, which includes administration of 19 cross-campus offices and research and service centers and maintains oversight of the Graduate School. The Vice Chancellor’s leadership team consists of faculty and staff members representing the various disciplines of research and graduate education, including administration, compliance, policy, physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences and arts and humanities.

Academic Education

  • 1985-1987 Colorado State University; Ph.D. – Atmospheric Science
  • 1976-1979 Colorado State University; M.S. – Atmospheric Science
  • 1972-1976 State University of New York – Oneonta


  • 2019-2020 Sigma Xi/American Meteorological Society Distinguished Lecturer
  • 2017: New Library World 2017 Highly Commend Award for 2016 publication
  • May 2014: Colorado State University Alumni Award
  • Jan 2014: Elected Fellow of the American Meteorological Society
  • May 2011: Elected Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Science, Arts and Letters
  • Nov 2010: Finalist in NSF International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge
  • May 2010: NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal
  • June 2009: State University of New York at Oneonta: Distinguished Alumnus Award
  • Jan 2009: American Meteorological Society’s Teaching Excellence Award
  • Summer 2004: UW-Madison Vilas Research Associate
  • Spring 2003: Winner of the Society of Academic Author’s Talby prize to “recognize excellence in visuals in textbooks and other learning materials.”
  • Summer 2003: NASA Group Achievement Award for Outstanding Teamwork on the Earth Observing System (EOS), Aqua Mission Team
  • April 1999: Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching
  • Dec 1996: NASA Group Achievement Award: FIRE II Science and Operations Team
  • April 1996: Recipient of a Lilly Teaching Fellowship
  • April 1995: Inducted as a Fellow in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Teaching Academy
  • September 1992: NASA ERBE Program Award “For outstanding contributions to the intercomparison and validation of ERBE scanner and non-scanner results.”


Globally, the earth-atmosphere system is balanced by the radiative energy gained from the sun and lost through infrared emission. The geographic distribution of radiative energy is an important climate variable. A change in one climate variable inevitably results in a change in another variable. Thus, a shift in the radiation balance at the surface of the earth, top of the atmosphere or within the atmosphere can result in a sequence of complicated changes in global climate. My interests center on understanding how changes in the radiation balance affect and are affected by changes in other climate variables such as clouds, aerosols, water vapor and surface properties. These feedback mechanisms are studied using a compliment of theoretical models and observations.

Books and Popular Articles

  • Ackerman, S. A., 2013: Satellites and Wisconsin. Published in Wisconsin People & Ideas, the magazine of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.
  • Martin, J and S. A. Ackerman, 2012: Ask the Weather Guys, an eBook published by Wisconsin State Journal, Madison-com & Capital Newspapers.
  • Pryor, A., D. Kemtz, R. Olson, and S. Ackerman, 2011: Here at Home: Learning Local Culture Pedagogy through a Cultural Tour. In A View From Practice: Folklife Resources and K-12 Schooling, Chapter 3 in Through the Schoolhouse Door: Folklore, Community, Curriculum, edited by P Bowman and L. Hamer. Published by Utah State University Press, 264 pp. 978-0-87421-859-6
  • Ackerman, S. A., 2008: Weather from Space, Extreme Weather, Astronomy magazine Kalmbach Publishing Co.
  • Ackerman, S. A., 2007: Developing Positive Team Collaborations. BAMS, 627-629.
  • Ackerman, S. A. and J.A. Knox, 2002: Meteorology: Understanding the atmosphere. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole-Thomson Learning. xxiii, 486p. (2nd edition published in 2006, other editions in 2011 and 2013)
  • Ackerman, S. A. and R. Pincus, 2003: “Radiation in the Atmosphere: Observations and Applications,” In Handbook of Weather, Climate and Water, edited by Thomas D. Potter and Bradley R. Colman. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
  • Pincus, R. and S. A. Ackerman, 2003: “Radiation in the Atmosphere: Foundations,” In Handbook of Weather, Climate and Water, edited by Thomas D. Potter and Bradley R. Colman. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
  • Higgins, Nadia (illustrated by D. Ward and content by S. Ackerman), 2010: Weather Watchers: A children’s book series on weather: “It’s a Tornado!”; “It’s a Thunderstorm!”; “It’s Hailing!”; “It’s a Tsunami!”; “It’s Snowing!”; and “It’s Raining!”. Published by The Magic Wagon.


Publications list @ Schwerdtfeger Library

Publications list @ Publons (H Index of 47)