April 2011

Obituaries

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WMO expresses condolences for the passing of Carl Christian Wallén

Carl Christian Wallén died peacefully in the autumn of 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. A former Deputy Director-General of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), he also served for many years at WMO.

Born in 1917 in Stockholm, Dr Wallen obtained a PhD in geography, with focus on glaciology. He studied with Tor Bergeron and spent a year with the Chicago School under Professor Rossby.

He worked at the University of Stockholm, and was appointed Deputy Director-General at SMHI in 1963. In 1967 Dr Wallen was appointed Chief of the Scientific and Technical Division at WMO, including responsibility for the Technical Commissions of Climatology, Agricultural Meteorology, Atmospheric Science and Instruments and Methods of Observations. Already in the 1950s he got involved with acid rain and the long-range transport of air pollution. This resulted in the establishment of the Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network. As a climatologist, he was always concerned with observations, monitoring and data, and his involvement when the Global Climate Observing System was established was obvious. In an interview for the WMO Bulletin, he stated, “I had always been particularly concerned with the climatic aspects of meteorology and the application of meteorology and climatology to human activities and socio-economic matters.”

Dr Wallen was also elected as President of the Swedish Student Union, Secretary to the Swedish National Committee for International Union for Geodesy and Geophysics, and a board member of the Swedish Geophysical Society. He was frequently engaged in setting up key programmes, often as a board or group member, including the formation of the World Climate Programme, the establishment of United Nations Environmental Programme, the first UN Conference on Environment in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972 and the terms of reference for the International Panel on Climate Change.

His interest in climate change and it potential impact on society never faded. As he said in his WMO Bulletin interview, “I am happy to see that climate has become such an extraordinarily important scientific subject, even an issue.”

CC Wallén was interviewed in the WMO Bulletin (Vol. 42, No. 1 - Jan. 1993).

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WMO pays tribute to Brian Tucker

Brian Tucker  

With the death of Dr Brian Tucker in November 2010 at the age of 80, international meteorology lost one of the most respected and influential Australian atmospheric scientists of the 20th century. His 50-year professional career began in the United Kingdom Meteorological Office and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and was followed by a long and distinguished leadership role in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of Australia. He guided the direction of research and shaped the scientific careers of a generation of Australian meteorologists and support staff, and ensured that Australia became a major player in the international weather and climate research agenda of the Global Atmospheric Research Programme and the World Climate Research Programme.

A graduate of the University College of Aberystwyth of Australia, he obtained his doctorate from Imperial College, London, United Kingdom. He began his career as a weather forecaster in the Royal Air Force, participated in a trade winds study in the West Indies and worked as a research scientist in the UK Meteorological Office, resulting in papers in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society and the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.

He then joined the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Under his leadership he provided the scientific basis for Australia’s emerging responsibilities as operator of one of the three World Meteorological Centres of the World Weather Watch. It established the foundation for the Australian Numerical Meteorology Research Centre and subsequent research centres.

Through his 28 years in leadership roles at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Brian Tucker reshaped the Australian meteorological research agenda and ensured that Australian research was integrated with global research. He was an early and active participant in the design of several major initiatives of the Global Atmospheric Research Programme, especially the southern hemisphere component, and served as Vice-Chairman of its committee. He also served as a committee member for the World Climate Research Programme. He was active, too, in the WMO Commission for Atmospheric Sciences and served as Committee Chair for its Eighth Session.

Dr Tucker spoke out forcefully on scientific and environmental issues on the Australian scene, served on many advisory bodies and contributed greatly to the public communication of science, such as through radio broadcasts. He chaired the Australian Academy of Science’s National Committee for Atmospheric Science for a number of years and was elected to Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. Dr Tucker also served as President of the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics.

He also served as a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, following his retirement from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, performing a national agenda-setting role on issues of environmental science and public policy.

Throughout his career, Brian maintained his own research interests and he wrote and spoke extensively on meteorological topics, holding firm views on the decoupling of research from operations. He contributed strongly to the national dialogue and debate on environmental issues and in 1981, he wrote the Australian Academy of Science’s influential monograph, The CO2-Climate Connection: A Global Problem from an Australian Perspective, long before “greenhouse” and “climate change” had become household terms.

From the beginning, he acknowledged both the potential and the limitations of science in addressing the challenges of global warming. He was the first to stress the risks of public misunderstanding of the concept of “model predictions” in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This led to the introduction of the now well-established use of “projections” for the emission-scenario-dependent output from climate models.

In his thought-provoking 1997 World Meteorological Day address in Melbourne on Realism, human existence and the environment, Dr Tucker observed that, from his nearly 50 years in atmospheric science, “… one perception above all others has stayed with me: the importance of critical objectivity for genuine progress in understanding.” This deep commitment to the objectivity and integrity of scientific research shaped the Australian meteorological research culture that he fostered throughout his career.

He leaves an outstanding legacy of research leadership, scientific integrity and public respect for meteorology in Australia and internationally, and a generation of Australian meteorologists and support staff who look back with affection and gratitude for his generous encouragement and support in their early careers.

 

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